March Goals: Week One Follow Up or Where Am I?

Even though it ‘s not a full week into March, I’m going to do my first week follow up today. Sunday will be a day of reflection and follow up as far as my writing goals are concerned.

So how did I do?

Over all, pretty good. I’m satisfied with my progress in a way that leaves me excited about where I’m headed.


 

Goal One: Two days off per week

This may be the easiest goal to accomplish since I’m basically lazy. 😀 But, yes, met this one. Took a couple of days off earlier in the week. What that means is that I need to write today since Sunday has typically been my day off writing.


 

Goal Two: Add 3000 words to WIP each week

I only added 2349 words to my WIP, so I failed to meet this goal. But the month (week) only started Tuesday, and I do plan to write today, so I’ll count this as a draw rather than a loss.


 

Goal Three: Complete the rough draft of one article

I have not worked on this yet. It’s not due until the end of the month. I do have work on this project scheduled this week. I’ll have an update next Sunday.


 

Goal Four: Complete the rough draft of one short story

Same as above. I have not started this project yet, but do have some work on it scheduled.


 

Goal Five: Set up a WIP word count tracker

Done! Woo Hoo! I’m using StoryToolz. You can see the counter in the sidebar on the right side of the page.


 

Goal Six: Research magazine markets

I have started this. I have a the Kindle version of the  2016 Writer’s Market. I ordered the 2016 Children’s Magazine Market from Institute of Children’s Literature late last week. I hope to receive it this week.


 

Overall, I think I’m off to a great start. Next weekend during my reflection time I will start working on writing out my April goals.

Have you made progress on your March goals? How do you track your progress?

Things I Learned During the #LeapAheadWritingMarathon

In February I joined my friend, Kaye Dacus, in a writing marathon. Kaye set up the marathon to focus more on developing commitment to writing rather than setting a word count goal alone. With great enthusiasm, I joined in the fun.

Along the way I (re) learned some things about myself and my approach to writing.

  1. My heart’s deep desire is to write. I’d let that passion dim over the years due to fear.
  2. I LOVE children’s literature and want to write it. I started out writing for kids, but turned to writing for adults years ago. I can’t even remember why. But this month, I returned to my roots.
  3. The more I write in my personal journal, the more I write other things.
  4. Although I’m a seat-of-the-pants writer, AKA pantser, I need to develop and use some way to create a story skeleton. Not a detailed outline. That might choke me to death. But a bare bones, one or two sentences about each story beat guide to keep me at least in the same story world throughout the process.
  5. Even though I’m an introvert of the highest order, I need my friends. My writing friends, especially, help me stay grounded, and keep me inspired.
  6. Social media derails me. Shortly after the start of the #LeapAheadWritingMarathon I began to limit my social media time. Wow, what a difference, not only in my productivity, but in my emotional state.
  7. Finally, I learned that I can be committed to writing and be afraid at the same time, and my head won’t spontaneously ignite.

Today March blew in with gusto, and Kaye started another writing marathon for our private little group of writing friends. I’m so stoked!! My goals for March may seem weird, but hang with me.

  1. Take two days per week off writing. I can still study and plan, but no actual writing. (Journaling doesn’ count.)
  2. Add at least 3,000 words per week to my novel length WIP.
  3. Complete the rough draft of at least one article.
  4. Complete the rough draft of at least one short story.
  5. Set up some type of WIP and word count tracker. (Maybe Story Toolz?)
  6. Start researching markets for the short pieces. I plan to spend one of the non-writing days each week on this.

I can’t even begin to explain how GREAT it feels to the passion for my dream back. 😀

If I Knew I Could Not Fail

What if I fly?

In working through a creative business planner and productivity workbook to try to get me on track for 2016, this question was in the first chapter: If I knew I could not fail, I would…

The exercise is to then answer that question honestly. It’s a great exercise. I can see how it could free many people to realize what they want to inspire them to go for it.

But to someone who has pushed down her dreams for years in order to tolerate the grind of the soul-eating day job, that question incites panic, maybe terror. In fact, I waited several days after I read the question to answer it. For so many years I’ve run in fear from my dreams. Nothing has worked to make them seem reachable or reasonable to me. I have always come back to the day to day grind of making a living.

For several days I grappled with the desire to work through the exercise versus the demons of practicality telling me to just let it go, that my dreams have passed me by. The voice telling me that at fifty one years of age I’m too old to dream is strong. Very, very strong.

Finally, after several days of prayer, I overcame that voice. What did I have to lose? More self esteem? Whatever. And just maybe, I have something to gain.

So here’s my list:

If I knew I could not fail, I would…
Write and publish stories
Weave beautiful chainmaille and sell it in a successful online store
Train and handle cadaver dogs

I feel nervous just typing out that list. But there it is.

You know what? None of those are out of the realm of possibility. I can attain any or all of them. Will I pursue all of them? I don’t know yet.

How do you answer that question? If you knew you could not fail, what would you do?

Writing Challenge

I am a writer.

Seriously.

Yeah, I know it’s hard to tell.

But it’s true.

What is also true is that I have been utterly unfaithful to my writing calling. Utterly. As of today, no more. Time to be true to myself. Time to stop the apologies for writing, for daydreaming, for imagining, for spending so much time inside my head. Today I grant myself the freedom to be me without feeling guilty.

Last fall I participated in National Novel Writing Month, AKA NaNo. Every year during November writers all over the world converge on the web to encourage each other to write 50,000 words in one month. Crazy? Yes. But, oh, so much fun. For several years I kind of half heartedly participated, typically dropping out after a week or less. But last fall, really late summer, I decided I really wanted to win NaNo. I started late September prepping for the November marathon by setting a goal of writing at least 100 words in my journal every day. Every. Single. Day. Guess what? I did it. By mid October I woke up with a need to get some words out of my pen onto the paper of my journal.

Roll on November 1, 2014 and the beginning of NaNo.

I attended a local write in. I highly recommend doing that if you ever participate in NaNo. I only made it to one, but it makes the online group a little more personal.

I attended several online write ins in our local group’s chat room. What fun! What inspiration! I wrote several thousand words during our chat room word wars.

By the third week of November I knew I was in a good position to finish strong. But that saggy middle, oh will it come back to bite you in the tail! That was hard. Perhaps the hardest, and maybe worst, writing I’ve ever done. And no one, not one soul, will ever read it as is. Ever. Don’t ask. I cried, kicked, screamed, thought about giving up. But I pushed through that week to enter the last week of November ready to finish strong.

On November 29, 2014, I reached my goal. I won NaNo for the first time!! My word count for the month: 50,227 words. I am still proud of myself for that.

But then I stopped. I closed that Word file. I put down my pen. I didn’t even write in my journal for a few weeks.

All that hard work and momentum. And I just freaking stopped. Stupid. Just plain stupid and lazy. And weak.

Enough beating myself up. And also enough ignoring my passion.

That’s where the title of this post comes in, the writing challenge part. My challenge to myself is to write 500 words per day. Doesn’t matter whether those 500 words are a blog post, journal entry, or part of my novel in progress. For my personal challenge, at least 500 words have to be on a single piece of writing. I will also post a weekly update every Sunday evening.

Are you a writer? Have you allowed yourself to stop writing? Are you tired of excuses? Join me in this challenge.

Reflections on the First Day of NaNoWriMo 2014

NaNoWriMo (AKA What the heck was I thinking) started November 1. I’ve signed up for the craziness before, but never really gave it my best shot. But this year is different. Not only do I have a different mind-set about, I have a story I like, and it just feels different.

So of course the few days leading up to NaNo kick-off some negativity started creeping into my thinking. But I silenced those negative voices with a first day word count of 4194. Yay me!

But what’s not so public is that a handful of local writer friends and I participate in our own little month-long marathon every October. I’ve always set some lofty goal that I’ve never reached. I decided to do something different for October 2014 marathon. I needed to get my mojo back after not writing for a couple of years.

My goal was to write something, anything, one sentence every single day of October. I needed writing to be a habit again, needed writing to become a need again.

I have written something every day since September 26, 2014. Again-Yay me!

My dream never left me, never died like I thought. It was there underneath all the negativity, underneath all the fear.

One Small Step

Big deep breath…

I took a huge (for me) step this morning. I ordered business cards. 

Gulp.

They’re very simple-nothing but my name and contact information. But it’s a step in presenting myself as a professional writer, as someone serious about reaching for her dreams with concrete actions.

Gulp.

What was the first significant action you took to make yourself feel more like a “real” writer before you were published?

The Great Writing Cave Clean-Up of June 2012

After months of thinking about cleaning up my writing cave, I finally took action this weekend. Here are some before pictures:

As you can see, I barely had room to walk to my desk!

What a mess!

The mess made it hard to write and was actually depressing.
Clutter everywhere-it made me crazy!

 

 

 

What a difference a day and a half make. Now I feel much better about using this room to do what I planned for it-to write.

Wow-I can see the top of the desk.
My large Post-It board and supply cabinet within easy reach of my desk.
Much less clutter. I can breathe!!
My writing room is now a place I want to spend time.