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ROW 80 – Round Two

So…hi again. So sorry, I didn’t mean to vanish in Round One, but fell down a proverbial INFJ rabbit hole — which translates to a bottomless pit of research and ovethinking — it took me a good six weeks to climb out and wrap my head around what I learned. Am I tempted to jump back in? Heck, yeah! Research, especially unintentional research, is one of my favorite things. Give me an interesting website, something I can procrastinate over, and a random question (usually about a character or location) and I will check out of reality faster than you can say NaNoWriMo! Speaking of NaNoWriMo, I signed up for camp!

My goals for my first round were a bit ambitious. Or, totally insane and unrealistic, if I’m honest about it. Like you, my life is crazy, chaotic, and doesn’t always follow my precise schedule. Of course, being the idealist I am, I bit off way more than I could chew anyway because best laid plans always work out. Right?

For round two I’m going S I M P L E • B A S I C • E A S Y

Round Two Goals

  • Keep Writing Scared – I will continue to push myself to try new and uncomfortable things.
  • Camp NaNoWriMo – 30,000 by the end of April. That 30k will include all creative writing including blog posts.
  • My Inner Editor – She has to go. I haven’t figured out how she will be kidnapped and hidden away, but her time is up. Highwaymen in the Scottish highlands might be an option….send her to the back of beyond and forget about her for a few months.
  • Kill My Darlings – I will kill them, and I will cry about it. Well, maybe.
  • The INFJ Loop/Rabbit Hole – Now that I understand my personality tendencies I will be mindful of not getting lost in research, procrastination, technique, plotting obsession etc… I will use a timer to focus, especially if I need to look something up. If I can’t find the answers in 15 minutes I will make a detailed note on the manuscript and in ToDoist and come back to it after the draft is finished.

That’s it. That’s my plan. Too simple? Good. But let me end by saying that it’s practically killing me not to elaborate on my plans to revise my plot board, expand on my new organizational ideas, or give a breakdown of everything I learned in my rabbit hole. But sanity must be respected and preserved at all cost. Last year, April was the worst month of our lives and I just don’t know what to expect emotionally from myself and those around me. Unexpected loss has a way of shattering us in ways we can never comprehend, but healing has a way of rebuilding us in ways we can never dream of. We will see what April brings with writing and life, but I pray she will be kind for us all.

Here’s to a brilliant, simple, and creative Round Two!


Do you plan to keep your inner editor locked up during Round Two? If so, how?

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Reading, Researching, & Writing, Oh My!

Sitting down to write never seems to be as easy as just that, writing. Over the past week, I have found myself needing to know more about how I am writing, not just why I am writing. The researcher in me clawed its way out and threw me into a week of reading, research, and even a bit of writing.

It started with webcast with Grant Faulkner (NaNoWriMo), Ally Machete (The Writer’s Ally), and some tips from AutoCrit on self-editing. Ally recommended Hooked by Les Edgerton, and then I couldn’t resist a fourth read-through of Romancing the Beat by Gwen Hayes. Feverish writing ensued with surprising insights and a new perspective on my plot and structure. My fingers have been flying on the keyboard and I have adopted a new whiteboard to organize my thoughts, plots, and problems (surface problems and story-worthy problems).

Alexa notified me that I have two more books arriving this week and I have resorted to stalking the mailman. My newest writerly books include Scene & Structure by Jack M Bickham and Save the Cat! Writes A Novel by Jessica Brody. I can’t get enough. In retrospect, my word count could have been higher, but I feel that my time reading and researching is invaluable. I won’t say everything about my current manuscript is falling into place, but it is significantly closer to where it needs to be and I have a better sense of the overall direction and motivations I want to capture. All in all, it’s been a successful week.

Beginning February 1st I will be trying to adhere to a specific daily minimum word count goal. This book won’t write itself and I have a deadline in my head that I can’t seem to shake.

What are your go to writing books? Do you have a favorite writing reference you think all writers should have on their shelves?


Writing

Giving In

Sometimes in life, you just have to give in. Cave. Tuck tail. Throw in the towel. Surrender. Raise the white flag. The last part of the week was a bit like this for me. I don’t mean this to sound negative, on the contrary. I learned a great deal about my motivation and my writing habits this week, all thanks to KonMari, ROW80, and good ole procrastination…productive procrastination.

NOTE: If you aren’t familiar with the KonMari Method, or Marie Kondo – the creator of KonMari, it is a tidying and decluttering journey where you are encouraged to keep only what sparks joy.

Introspection:

  • Giving in to my desire to declutter and organize helps me focus on my writing – even just one little thing like a drawer or a bookshelf.
  • Procrastination isn’t always bad. If something is on my mind I am better off setting a timer and doing it rather than trying to write distracted.
  • ROW80 encourages me to be accountable for my writing, without it I wouldn’t have made the connection between writing, decluttering, and productive procrastination. Not in a million years!
  • If I don’t read or listen to a book for at least an hour a day my writing suffers. Writers should be the biggest readers. Period.
  • I am happier and more content when I write, even when I have to dictate it – nothing beats the feeling of new words on the page, no matter how they get there!
  • Everyone is happier when I’m not yelling about how messy the house is…

Accomplished:

  • Dictated 1 full chapter
  • Typed half of another chapter (still getting hung up with my inner editor when typing)
  • Words this week: 6,987 (just for the manuscript)
  • Worked on the aesthetic graphic for the new chapter
  • Signed up for a webinar on editing
  • Plotted a new twist…it struck when I was decluttering and gave me chills!
  • Decluttered my dresser, entire bathroom, two linen closets, bedroom bookshelf, Evie’s dressers, guest bedroom and bathroom, kitchen towels, and entire pantry
  • Spent a whole day with friends – it had been too long!
  • Canceled subscriptions that had forgotten about
  • Set the household budget for the next month
  • Got through all the laundry…not that it ever REALLY ends
  • Cleaned out my email (thanks to the app Chuck!)
  • Consolidated ALL my calenders – all 7 of them
  • Got a headstart on correspondence for the upcoming week
  • Planned all our meals
  • Accomplished all homeschool goals with the kids
  • Cleaned the house top to bottom
  • Read/listened to 3 books
  • No television or podcasts
  • Hosted a family dinner for 10 of us

Overall, I’m happy with what I accomplished this week. With so many meetings/appointments, family coming into town, and my sudden urge to declutter on top of our normal craziness, I was worried, but it all got done. I’m excited to see what the new week has in store and what I can accomplish with a few curveballs thrown my way. Here’s to “giving in” and accomplishing more than planned!

Writing

Writing Here, There, & Everywhere

The week has gone nothing like I imagined, I knew it would be busy, but I didn’t expect outright insanity to reign. According to my planner, there was time enough for everything. According to real life, not so much. Monday was meetings and appointments from 8am until 10pm…BUT I still wrote!!! The writing wasn’t pretty and consisted of me dictating as I drove from one place to another, but I did it. At the end of a 14 hour day, I had a rough new chapter. VERY ROUGH. But words are on the page and I have the beginnings of a chapter that didn’t exist before.

Tuesday and today were much of the same, rushing from one thing to the next, except this time crazy cleaning lady (me) made her appearance as we get ready to welcome guests. I made the mistake of watching a few episodes of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo on Netflix and now have this intense desire to tidy all. the. things. It seems improbable, but cleaning has made me want to write more. Go figure. Sitting in bed last night, I knew my dresser, bathroom, sitting room, pantry, and bookshelves were as clean and organized as possible. For the first time in a while I was able to focus entirely on writing. No more nagging feeling that something else needed to be done. Amazing!

Maybe, by the end of the year, my house will be a shining example of organization and my manuscript will be done. *wink* A girl has to have goals and this feels like a solid one to add to my list. And if one goal feeds off the other, even better!

I mentioned my planner at the beginning of the post and it is life-changing! Let me explain. It took me a while to build up the courage to change planners, however, in my continuing effort to do it scared, I ordered the Living Well Planner. It is everything I hoped for and more! Even better than my Erin Condren *gasp* and ranks right up there with my Passion Planner and Panda Planner…maybe even a little higher because of the spiral design, corner protectors, goal sheets, weekly goals, etc. Yeah, I’m gushing! The brilliant design makes me focus on my goals and keeps my writing, lists, to-dos, and projects right in front of me each day. If you are still looking for a planner for 2019, do yourself a favor and take a look at this one!

Last thing… Despite not being completely thrilled with my word count, I’m over the moon with joy that I persisted and “wrote scared.” I embraced a new way to get my story on the page and wrote/dictated when I didn’t think I could. It feels good to prove this to myself with the goals I have set. A small victory that feels HUGE in the face of my schedule for the next 3 months.

Do you have a favorite planner you use? And how do you handle getting your writing time in when your day is crazy from beginning to end?

Happy writing!

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Planner, Plotter, and…Hostage?

The last update I shared I had been busily planning, plotting and preparing my crazy life for two intense days of writing. For all intents and purposes, my schedule was cleared, my intentions made known to my family, and I was prepared to be typing away with a big, stupid smile on my face. My life cooperated. My characters did not.

I sat down with everything ready to go and proceeded to stare at my computer screen. All the “brilliant” ideas my characters had been feeding me dried up and died 10,000 deaths. I tried to make sense of the cacophony of voices in my head, each one louder than the last, each vying for my attention. Unable (or unwilling) to do anything, I was afraid to “upset” a character by choosing one direction over another. That’s when it happened, I became a literary hostage. Each character more insistent that their story direction was best and if I chose wrong the story would be over before it started. That’s a lie of course, but on Tuesday I believed it.

For the better part of the day, I was bound by fear of choosing the wrong path and listening to the wrong character. So I sat there wasting those precious planned hours of writing and then went on a cleaning spree (God help my family). In retrospect, it was the best thing and the very worst thing I could have done. It was for the best because I was forced to dig deep and make some hard choices…”scared” choices. It was the worst thing simply because now I’m mourning those hours when words should have been leaping onto the page.

Eventually, I did get a good amount of writing done, but this literary hostage situation was a new one for me. Now to see what I can do so this doesn’t happen again…

Have you ever been in a similar situation? What did you do to get through it and prevent it from happening again?

Update 1/10/19: As of today, the words are flowing and the characters are cooperating to the best of their scandalous abilities.

Writing

The Epiphany…

Happy Epiphany! Today, we are celebrating the journey that the Three Wise Men made to see the infant Jesus and the precious gifts they brought Him. This important, but often overlooked, holiday reminds me what precious gifts I should bring to my faith…and by extension, what I should bring to my writing.


Some of my Epiphany relfections for writing :

  • Am I setting aside the proper amount of time each day to further my goals?
  • Am I nurturing my passion for writing?
  • Am I being intentional?
  • Do I bring my finest gifts? Those things in life that are precious and rare? My time/commitment, love/passion, and care/intent.
20 + C + M + B + 19

Aside from everything above, I’ve spent a significant amount of time planning, plotting, and organizing this week. Not as much actual writing as I would have liked (only about 750 new words), but Scrivener is rearranged how I need it and the plot/order of my story has been overhauled top to bottom. It’s daunting to scrap entire chapters, even if they aren’t really in the trash, but it’s almost done and I finally feel at peace with the new direction the story is heading. This was my first real challenge in my “writing scared” commitment for 2019.

It’s going to be a crazy week ahead as we go back to school, dance, and all of our other activities, but by Tuesday I will be ready to simply write; other than homeschooling, I cleared my schedule on Tuesday and Thursday. It will make for a jam-packed Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, but I need a solid chunk of time to focus uninterrupted – or as uninterrupted as I can get with 3 kids at home, one being a 5-year-old with no off switch.

All in all, it was a productive and insightful first week of 2019!

Happy Epiphany & Happy Writing!


Writing

Writing Scared Since 2019

row80logocopyIt’s official, 2019 is my year of writing scared!!! This may seem an odd thing to be excited about, but there it is. I’m ecstatic! So, why write scared? It’s more of a promise to myself than actual fright, even if there IS some level of hesitation rolling through me. It’s about pushing limits, trying new things, and owning what my mind creates.

To be a little more specific, writing scared means getting out of my comfort zones, taking my writing from a “hidden pursuit” to one that demands accountability, and confronting topics and styles I’ve avoided at all costs…even when the story demanded such a turn. Writing scared is writing with no regrets. If last year taught me anything it’s that we always think we have more time than we do. It’s time to embrace what scares me and do it anyway!

Writing Goals of 2019

  • Post writing updates Wednesday and Sundays for accountability with A Round of Words in 80 Days
  • Write daily no matter what life throws at me…even if it’s a voice dictation to Penman or a brain dump in Bear (wonderful apps by the way!) 
    • This is an absolute minimum of 30 minutes or 250 new words written.
  • Monthly Breakdowns for ROW 80:
    • January: 45k words (Counting some, but not all of what I have from NaNoWriMo since most will be rewritten.)
    • February: 75k words
    • March: Hit my goal of 90k for the first complete draft
  • Finish my first revised draft of Chasing Daylight by March 21st – end of ROW Round 1
  • No fewer than two rounds of edits on Chasing Daylight in 2019
    • 1st round edits done by June 30th
    • 2nd round edits done by Sept 30th
  • Write scared each and every day!