sunday ROW80 check-in ~ #7

Today’s check-in may be more of a reflection than an update.  It may also be a bit disjointed; if it is, apologies in advance.

It’s Day 35 of Round 3 of ROW80.  I was just entering today’s wordcount into the spreadsheet I’ve been keeping to track my progress toward my goals, and I realized that in the last 35 days, I’ve written 48K+ words.  This in and of itself is astounding to me, but then when I reflect on the fact that I wrote almost 80K words during the month of June while participating in CampNaNoWriMo, I’m further shocked at myself.  Yet the problem…well, maybe problem isn’t the right word.  The observation I can make from these reflections is that none of these words were “The End”.  In spite of writing all of these words over the course of the summer, I have yet to type those two small words that give me such a thrill of happiness and exhilaration, and I’m not sure how I feel about this.  Particularly since I had made the goal of finishing June’s CampNaNoWriMo with a complete draft of a story.  On the other hand, one of the things I wanted most out of the summer was to be creative, and I have certainly been creative.  I’ve let my imagination run wild, be inspired, be challenged, and those are all good things.  Still, I can’t deny that I wanted that thrill of happiness that comes with “The End” and I have yet to experience it this year.

I also want to be honest with myself and allow myself to recognize that all of this writing that I’ve done this summer has reinforced my decision to change career directions.  This summer has made it extremely obvious to me that I don’t really want to do the kind of writing I’d have to do in order to find the kind of job I thought I wanted in my current profession.  I’m not sure I would have committed so strongly to making a career change if I hadn’t spent so much of this summer writing, and I’m not sure I would be so certain that it was the right decision for me to make at this point in my life.  I thought that the writing I had planned to do over the summer would be a way to keep my mind engaged and to keep myself entertained and busy with a project while I waited for the return of school and steady income.  It has been that, but it’s also given me time to think about what I want, what I’m willing to settle for, and what risks I’m willing to take in order to find a career that’s more fulfilling than the one I have now.  What makes that statement even more extraordinary is that that discovery was a complete accident.  I had intended for my blog posts to be the place where I made those kinds of discoveries, but instead it happened while I was writing fiction.  I certainly wasn’t expecting that.

One other thing that participating in ROW80 has taught me thus far is to make a commitment to make time for myself and the things that are important to me.  Writing has been one of my outlets for a long time, but it’s only this summer that I’ve committed to making time in my schedule on an almost daily basis to engage in one of my passions.  Before I’ve always looked at my writing as an indulgence, but I’m becoming aware of it now as a necessity.  Logically, I’ve known the importance of making time for myself, but this is the first time in a long time that I feel like I can say I have actually done that, and it’s amazing how much different life looks because of it.  Not surprisingly, the determination to commit time to activities that will not only keep me sane but also healthy has spilled over into other aspects of my life, and I’ve already seen benefits in those areas, too.  Maybe this is all to say that what I thought was the end goal of the summer–to write “The End”–wasn’t really the end goal that I needed most, but because I was in search of those words I found something else that was much more important.

End of reflection.  It’s time to talk about my goals.  Here are my current goals:

  • Goal #1 – Write 1000 words.  My last check-in was last Sunday, so in the days since then, I met my goal on 4 of the 6 days that I was scheduled to write, and I did manage to take Saturday off from writing.  Considering that I spent the first three days of the week trying to get back into work-mode, I’m pretty happy with what I managed to get done.
  • Goal #2 – Stick to my blog post schedule.  Okay, really?  I cannot seem to get back on schedule with my blogging.  The good news is that I am making today’s check-in.  Also, I want to post book reviews on Monday, and tomorrow’s review is already written and scheduled for posting. I also know the topic of my next blog post.  So, things might be looking up, but we’ll see if the plan actually gets executed.  Blogging definitely is something that seems to fall by the wayside when I get busy or distracted with other stuff.
  • Goal #3 – Complete the first draft of my WIP.  I still think this can happen during Round 3, and I’m still making progress.  Like I said earlier, I’ve added just over 48K+ words to my draft since the start of Round 3.  Today’s writing session revealed the identity of the individual who is threatening my heroine, but the why has yet to be revealed.  Not sure how much of the story I have left, but it’s still moving along.

With school starting in just two weeks, I’m going to go ahead and make some changes to my goals now.  Here are my new goals, which I hope will remain in place through the end of Round 3:

  • Goal #1 – Write at least three days each week.  In order to get everything in my life done, I know that I’m not going to be able to find time to write everyday.  I do think I can find time to write at least three days a week though, and my goal is to write at least 1000 words on each day that I write.  The plan now is to write on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.
  • Goal #2 – Stick to my new blog post schedule.  I find that checking in twice a week is too frequent, though I can’t really put my finger on exactly why I feel that way.  I plan to make at least one check-in each week, likely on Sundays.  I also plan to continue posting book reviews on Mondays.  Beyond that, I want to blog on whatever topic interests me at least once each week.  I’m not going to continue to be so rigid in terms of saying these have to be posted on a particular day.  As long as I post once each week, no matter which day that is, I’ll be happy.
  • Goal #3 – Complete the first draft of my WIP.  This goal remains unchanged.  I find that I really like having a project that I commit to finishing by a specified deadline, and I don’t want to lose writing as my outlet once school starts.

Huh. I didn’t really intend to write all of that but I guess I just needed to get it out.  I hope everyone has a great week, and thanks for stopping by my blog!

sunday ROW80 check-in ~ #6

Hooray! I am finally ending my streak of missed Sunday check-ins!  I’m also making this check-in first thing in the morning, which is unusual but today it’s necessary.  My afternoon is blocked off for a very special friend’s bachelorette wine tasting party.  Yes, you read that correctly.  I’ll be touring a few of the local wineries this afternoon under the guise of a bachelorette party. It’s going to be a wild and fun time.

But that’s not why you’re here so let’s get to it.  Here’s how the last few days have gone since Wednesday’s check-in:

  • Goal #1 – Write 1000 words daily.  On Thursday I was about 180 words short of meeting my goal, but I made up for it on Friday and met the goal.  Knowing that I was probably not going to have time to write today because of my aforementioned plans, I wrote yesterday instead so that I could take today off, and I met the daily goal yesterday.
  • Goal #2 – Stick to my blog post schedule.  I missed Thursday’s blog post, but I knew that I was going to so I’m okay with that.  I am making today’s post (woo-hoo!) and I think I’m going to manage to get a book review done for tomorrow.  So, this goal is definitely seeing improvement but has room for more improvement.
  • Goal #3 – Complete the first draft of my WIP.  Since the beginning of Round 3 I’ve added almost 39K words to my draft.  I’m almost at a total of 52K words, and I still feel like I’m about halfway through the story.  I think I can still achieve this goal, but to do that I’m going to have to be disciplined about meeting Goal #1 once school begins.

Ah, fall semester.  It’s just coming into visibility on this road I’m on.  Starting tomorrow I’m going to start practicing my new work routine so that I’ll have worked out the kinks and already have an idea of what’s going to work and what’s not going to work in terms of how I’m going to get everything done everyday.  You might have guessed that I love having a routine.  I’m just made that way, I guess, and it takes me some time to get into a regular routine, so that’s why I’m starting early.  I’m also adding an item to my routine that hasn’t been there in some time.  Some of you are very familiar with it.  It’s that thing called exercise.  Yes, I’m trying to integrate that into my routine.  Four days a week.  We’ll see how it goes.  Me and exercise are not BFFs.  We break up.  A lot.  Definitely an on again and off again kind of relationship.  I’m all set to try this program called Couch to 5K.  Heard of it?  Done it?  If so, share your thoughts below.  I do not like to run (understatement), but it’s exercise I can get without having to pay for a gym membership and then feel guilty about not using it.  I downloaded the app on my smartphone and got a new armband for my phone (definitely less than even one month of a gym membership) so I should be all set to start.  I’m also starting zumba classes on Thursday. It’s not a whole new me, just me with some new stuff happening in my life.

All right, that’s it.  Everyone have a good week! Thanks for dropping by my blog!


(belated) wednesday ROW80 check-in ~ #5

Yes, my post is late! Last night, as the clock rolled past midnight, I was in the middle of an epic writing session that not only yielded 6300+ words but also made my heroine’s life rather miserable.  Someone got wine thrown in his face, tears were shed, trust was betrayed, and loads of embarrassment was felt.  Unfortunately, it’s going to get a bit worse before it gets better for my heroine.  You can see now how I might have neglected to get my post in on time, right? Maybe? Just a little?  Okay, then, let me just give you what you’ve come for…

  • Goal #1 – Write 1000 words daily.  The second week of ROW80 yielded all kinds of writing challenges.  The third week has gone much better for me, I’m happy to report.  I met my 1000 word writing goal on Thursday, Friday, Monday and Tuesday.  Saturday is my scheduled day off from writing and I did take the day off.  Go me!  Sunday I wrote 681 words, and Tuesday, I didn’t write anything at all.  Oddly, on Tuesday I got stuck in a place in my draft that I never thought would have caused trouble, and so nothing got written at all.  Gratefully, I’m past that little roadblock.
  • Goal #2 – Stick to my blog post schedule.  While the writing has been going well over the last week, the blogging has not.  I missed my Sunday check-in, I missed my Monday book review (I ran into a problem last week–both novels that I finished were books 6 and 4, respectively, in a series; it didn’t feel right to post a review of a book in an ongoing series because what if readers hadn’t read the books that came before? They wouldn’t be able to follow my review.  It was quite the conundrum and so I elected not to post a review at all on Monday), and my Wednesday check-in, as I ‘ve already explained above, is late.  Bah!  This area of my goals definitely needs to see improvement over the next week.
  • Goal #3 – Complete the first draft of my WIP.  This is the little ray of happiness in my goals this week.  Since Round 3 of ROW80 began, I have added just over 33K words to my draft.  Given that goal #1 is to write 1000 words each day and to take Saturday’s off, I was only expecting that I would write 26K words during the first 30 days of the round, but I’m well ahead of that pace. I’m in the middle of chapter seven of my WIP, and I’m thinking that maybe I am now halfway through my story.  I don’t plot out how many chapters there will be before I begin writing, but I do know how the story is going to end and my drafts are usually 90K to 100K words.  Right now, I’m sitting at just over 45K. I have so much excitement about this draft right now it’s a bit ridiculous but so much fun.

All right, that’s it.  I do actually have to bring this belated post to a quick conclusion since I have an appointment with The Dark Knight in just over an hour.  Have a great weekend, fellow ROWers and thanks for stopping by my blog!

wednesday ROW80 check-in ~ #4

It’s been a weird week.  About this time last week, I looked at the calendar–really looked at it–and realized that fall semester begins in less than five weeks.  That realization made me turn my thoughts toward work I get paid for and away from writing, the work I currently do for sheer pleasure.  Which means I haven’t been so good at meeting my goals this last week.  Here’s my goals update:

  • Goal #1 – Write 1000 words daily.  This goal is all about writing something–anything–daily so that writing is a habit and a part of my daily life.  I haven’t done so well this last week.  I didn’t write anything at all on Thursday, Friday, Monday or Tuesday.  I didn’t write on Saturday, either, but Saturdays are my one day off from writing.  I did, however, manage to meet my goal on Sunday and today.  More on this below.
  • Goal #2 – Stick to my blog post schedule.  In the last week, I met most of this goal, but not all of it (my students would be asking for partial credit at this point).  I missed my Sunday check-in post.  However, I did manage to pull together a post for last Thursday and I also posted my weekly book review.
  • Goal #3 – Complete the first draft of my WIP.  There were several days when I didn’t write, but the days when I did write I made some progress toward this goal.  Since the beginning of Round 3, I have added 21,411 words to my WIP.  Still no title, though.

Looking back on the last week, I can see that one of the reasons why I didn’t write was because my mind has just been elsewhere.  I’ve recently decided to get rid of 25% of my book collection (I’m going to talk about this in greater detail in tomorrow’s scheduled blog post) and I’ve also been doing research into minimalist lifestyles and how to possess less stuff.  Work has also been on my mind, and in the last couple of days I’ve been going to the office and getting some work tasks done to prepare for fall semester.  I had some connectivity issues with my ISP that also were a distraction.  In a nutshell, it’s been a weird week that’s included a lot of self-reflection and examination of my life.  This in turn has led to some small amount of enlightenment in that I’m realizing that I have learned a lot about myself this summer, and now I’m trying to make some changes based upon what I’ve learned.  So my mind has been more focused on that than it has been on writing.

But as I said, when I have managed to write, I’ve made good progress.  On Sunday, after three days off from my WIP, I wrote just under 3,500 words.  Today, with the help and support of Lauren Garafalo and everyone at #teamsprinty on Twitter, I wrote 1,006 words in just an hour and almost at the end of a chapter that’s been hard to get down on paper.  I feel like I’m finally back on track now.  This is all good because it tells me that I’m not bored with my project, I just haven’t been mentally present enough to concentrate on it.

The other good thing that’s happened is that Dahnya Och gave me a great tip on how to come up with ideas for future blog posts.  This has resulted in four or five ideas for future Thursday blog posts that I’m actually excited about and looking forward to writing because they all focus upon prodding me to figure out more exactly the life that I want and take make some sustainable changes on how to get there.

So yeah, it’s been a weird week, but that’s not necessarily all bad.  Hope everyone else is having a good week.  Thanks for the support and dropping by my blog!

wednesday ROW80 check-in ~ #3

My how time has flown since Sunday! My check-in is just going to make it in on time, and that just says so much about the power of a deadline doesn’t it?  Anyway, here’s how the last few days have gone for me in terms of my goals:

  • Goal #1 – Write 1000 words daily.  I’ve met this goal each day since my last check-in.  I actually didn’t think I was going to get anything written yesterday but then last night, all of a sudden, I wanted to write, and it was a great writing session.  All is well here.
  • Goal #2 – Stick to my blog post schedule.  So far so good in that I haven’t yet missed a blog post.  The bad news is that I have a blog post due tomorrow and I have no idea what I’m going to write about (does this happen to anyone else?).  The good news is that I have already written the book review due on Monday.  This is the most challenging of my goals.
  • Goal #3 – Complete the first draft of my WIP. I want to have a full draft of my current WIP by the end of Round 3 of ROW80.  I feel like I’m on track, and the good thing is that I am getting words down now while I have loads of time to write and I think this will help me later in the round when school begins and I have infinitely less time to write.  Since the beginning of Round 3, I have added nearly 17,000 words to my WIP.

I continue to be amazed at how much more engaged I am in this WIP than I was with my CampNaNoWriMo novel.  A part of me wants to say that this is because I don’t have the pressure of writing at least 50,000 words in 30 days, so I can take more time.  But, when I look at my daily progress, I can see that I am still writing at a NaNo pace, even though I’m not intending to do that and even though I’m trying not to write at that pace.  I keep asking myself why it is that I seem to like this WIP more than the other (and I am trying to come up with a title for this WIP but it insists on remaining elusive and playing hard to get).  Not that it matters, I suppose, but it’s still a point of interest to me. I like knowing why I do the things that I do.  My current characters are just more…alive in my imagination and I just want to tell their story more than the others.  I think this is why I have been able to meet my daily writing goal almost each day of the challenge thus far.  I’m just a lot more into this WIP.  It’s more fun.  Which is a bonus since right now, writing is my best way of entertaining myself.

The other thing I have noticed about my writing since the beginning of Round 3 is that I have been much better about plotting out the next chapter, so that I have a road map for where the chapter is going to go, what scenes will make up the chapter, how the plot needs to advance and what needs to be revealed over the course of the chapter.  I started doing this during CampNaNo and I have made a conscious effort to continue doing it now and do it a bit better while working on this WIP.  I have never been an outliner, but the rough outlines that I make for the coming chapter have helped me immensely.  This is true even when I diverge somewhat (or even significantly) from the outline.  I would say that my current WIP is a suspenseful romance, so I find that plotting ahead at least one chapter helps me work out the suspense aspect more clearly in my head.

I suppose this is all to say that these check-ins are helping to illuminate some of my tendencies as a writer that I wasn’t necessarily aware of before or hadn’t thought about. Great! I’m all about self-reflection.

Hope everyone’s writing is coming along.  Good luck to everyone who is working on FastDraft right now.  I have been following your tweets and stand in awe and amazement at your progress and daily successes.  Have a good week and thanks for dropping by my blog!


wednesday check-in #1

It’s Wednesday, which means it’s time for a ROW80 check-in.  Let’s get the progress report part of this post out of the way first, shall we?

  • Goal #1 – Write 1000 words daily.  I am only two days into my first round of this challenge, but I have met my daily writing goal both days.  Success!
  • Goal #2 – Stick to my blog post schedule.  Mondays are designated as Book Review days, and this Monday I posted my review of The Lady in the Lake by Raymond Chandler.  I’m also making my Wednesday check-in so, success here, too!  I am still searching for inspiration for tomorrow’s “deep thoughts” blog post, but I have completed the book that I’ll be reviewing for next Monday’s post.
  • Goal #3 – Complete the first draft of my WIP.  I made progress toward this goal by adding just over 3,700 words to my draft.

So the last couple of days have gone well.  I have no complaints to register with myself, but there has been a strange shift in my writing routine, and I’m wondering if it’s just a side effect of having just finished CampNaNoWrimo or if it’s a change that’s here to stay.  I am a strong believer in establishing a writing routine and sticking to it.  Had I not done this, I have no idea how I would have made it through the process of writing a dissertation.  My current writing routine (and yes, my routine does change according to my schedule, be it summer vacation or fall or spring semester) is that I try to spend two hours writing first thing in the morning.  I got the advice to “write first” from a book by Joan Bolker* and it’s worked really well for me.  I also put into practice her advice of trying to write at the same time each day and in the same place, which have also yielded good results.  In the last couple of days, though, I haven’t been able to generate anything in my morning writing sessions.  I stare at the blank screen, check e-mail, the Internet, Twitter, do chores.  In general, I just allow myself to be distracted.  As I’ve said in another post, I have all kinds of ways of turning off my Internet distractions, but I haven’t employed them.

But I mentioned above that I’ve met my writing goal each day, so what gives?  On both days, instead of doing my writing in the morning, it’s gotten done in the evenings.  Now, I am self-proclaimed “night” person, but in the last few years I’ve managed to become a functioning morning person.  I have become used to doing most writing tasks in the morning and most reading tasks in the afternoons and evenings.  But Monday and Tuesday nights found me writing in the evening, from about seven to ten.  It’s like newborns who have their days and nights mixed up.  Which leads me to the question–is this just a temporary blip in my routine?  I don’t know the answer to this question but for now that’s okay.  I’m going to go with it and see what happens.

Perhaps the only other thing to say about my writing in the last couple of days is that it’s been a struggle to get the words out.  I think part of this stems from my attempt to take more time with my first draft (as opposed to being in the hurry-up mode of a NaNo month).  I wouldn’t say that I’m trying to get it right the first time, I’m just trying to write a less sloppy first draft (or zero draft, another term I got from reading Bolker’s book).  The flip side of that is that there isn’t an outside source of pressure, and for better or worse, I am a person who works best under pressure.  It’s another adjustment that this challenge is encouraging me to make and so for now it’s something to notice and see what comes of it.

With that, check-in #1 is done.  Thanks to everyone who has stopped by my blog and offered support and encouragement in this new endeavor of mine.  Have a good week!

*I am still learning all the tools and tricks of blogging, so I don’t yet know how to turn this into a link.  The book I’m referring to here is Joan Bolker’s Writing Your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes a Day.


goals for round 3 of ROW80

It’s time to make goals for my first round of ROW80.  I’m trying my best to keep these goals simple, challenging, and achievable.  So here they are:

  • Write at least 1,000 words each day, six days a week.  One thing I have learned in the last year is the importance of taking at least one day off each week and not doing any work on that day.  I’m applying this to my writing as well.  In the last couple of months I have tried to write on a daily basis, and I’ve noticed that I usually want to take a day off and that when I do I come back to my work-in-progress with more focus and enthusiasm.  Right now, I’m thinking that Saturdays will be my designated day off, but once school begins in the fall I’ll have to see if that day works or if I’ll need to shift my day off to another day.
  • Four new blog posts each week.  I just started this new blog and I want to post to it on a regular basis.  My previous blog was a place for random posts but I want this blog to be more focused and reflective.  I think the schedule I’ve come up with is one that I can stick to even when school begins and life gets a lot more hectic.  Also, I’m trying to keep each of my blog posts under 1,000 words.  Does anyone else have a specific maximum length for their blog posts?  This is part of my blogging goal because I feel that during the process of graduate school and writing a dissertation I lost the power of brevity and the ability to be concise.  This is a first step at getting those back. My tentative schedule for new blog posts is:

Mondays – Book Reviews
Wednesdays – ROW80 Check-in
Thursdays – Deep Thoughts
Sundays – ROW80 Check-in

  • Complete first draft of work-in-progress.  For the last few years I have finished a first draft of at least one work-in-progress, and I think that if I can achieve my first goal, I can also achieve this goal.

That’s it.  Progress reports will be forthcoming.  Good luck to everyone in your Round 3 odysseys!

it’s time to declare

I was having a conversation with a friend of mine a couple of months ago.  She has always wanted to take a pottery class, but she had never made time in her life to do just that.  One of the things that I got from our conversation was that she wanted to create something, and for her, that something was something tangible, something she could hold and touch.  During the conversation she said something to the effect of “but if we really want to do something, if we are really passionate about something, shouldn’t we find the time in our lives for what we are passionate about?”.  Fairly soon after this conversation, my friend enrolled in a pottery class.  The experience has taught her that making pottery is really difficult, and it’s not a skill she wants to continue to cultivate.  She’s decided to learn how to sew instead.

I, too, made a goal after this conversation.  I had said that writing was my creative outlet, that creative writing was one of the things I was passionate about, and yet I had to admit that I didn’t make enough time in my life to write.  Especially not in the last year.  I wrote when I had time, but only during a NaNo month did I strive to write a specific number of words each day and complete a draft of a particular work-in-progress.  I realized that I also wanted to make time to write, to cultivate a daily writing habit as far as creative writing was concerned.  So, starting in May, I made the goal of writing at least 1000 words each day.  This goal was also a way of preparing for CampNaNoWrimo which I intended to participate in when June rolled around.

It was while working on my CampNaNoWriMo novel that I stumbled onto ROW80.  I saw it as a hashtag in the tweets of other WriMos and was curious what it was all about.  So here I am, declaring my intention to participate in Round 3 of ROW80.  But here’s my secret confession: I’m not entirely sure that I belong here? I have been looking for a community of writers where I might fit in, but after reading through so many of the other blogs on the Linky, I feel a bit…intimidated to tell the truth.  Still, I am going to overcome that little fear and embrace this challenge and experience, and look forward to seeing how I grow as a writer over the next 80 days.  I think more than anything, I am looking forward to making time in my life for one of my passions and discovering where that commitment takes me.