NaNo Wrap-up

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I really intended to write a few posts during NaNo, but somehow it didn’t happen. So here’s a wrap-up instead.

I got my win last night, and it feels weird.  This year, I have been using Habitica to get tasks done (you should check it out–it’s so fun and useful, too!).  So, I joined a writing guild that had a NaNo challenge going.  Because of this, I actually wrote every single day. I did have two days (the day before Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving itself) that I didn’t hit the daily goal, but I wrote.  Then I caught up over the weekend, so I didn’t have to do any crazy, 10K days, or even 5K days to catch up.  This is the first time I wrote every single day of NaNo (yes, I’m writing a bit on my story today so I can really say that).

I learned something this NaNo.  I am not an every day writer, at least not a comfortable every day writer.  My best writing schedule for stories is to write three or four days a week.  Maybe some writing practice on the other days.  Trying to work on my story every single day left me feeling oddly rushed and pressured even though I wasn’t behind on my word count, and I’m pretty sure the days I struggled the most (and wrote the worst drivel) happened because I needed a break from the story.  This is good.  Knowing my best rhythm is important, so I’m glad I did this experiment.

Now comes the fun part of trying to grab hold of this story and bring it together and finish it.  I ended up re-plotting it two different times during November. I think the new direction I found myself going in over the past three days is actually the right way to go, so now I need to figure out what parts of what I’ve written work with this and what needs to change and what needs to be added.  For today, though, I’m mostly going to celebrate.

I won!

 

NaNo 1st

nanobanner

I’m starting a new habit. I’m going to post writing goals on the first of each month.  November’s are kind of easy.

November Goals

  • Win NaNoWriMo
  • Keep up with Habitica NaNo challenge tasks
  • Do crit group feedback and meeting

The hardest part will be the Habitica tasks. Two of them are daily tasks–meet the day’s word goal and update on the NaNo site. I don’t usually write every day, but I really want to win the challenge, so I’m going to do it.  But it’s going to be a little bit odd for me.  It *will* be nice to not need to do any marathon catch-up days.

Now, off I go to get those words started!

Retreat!

McMenamins Edgefield

McMenamins Edgefield

Saturday, I got the opportunity to go to a day-long retreat with PDX Writers at this glorious place (McMenamins Edgefield).  It was such a welcome break from the ordinary–it was just the thing right now.

I got really lucky–I’m unemployed right now, so I wasn’t going to be able to go to this, but I got a scholarship.  It felt like such a wonderful luxury.  This is my second writing retreat–last year when I was employed I was able to go to the PDX Writers weekend-long retreat.  I’m thinking I need to schedule in more regular breaks from the everyday for myself–it doesn’t have to be a fancy retreat. I could do something like this for myself now and then. I think we should all do this–our writing will love it!  And doing something different is a great way to shake up the writing and get things moving.

During the prompted writings I got some character work done on someone who’s been living in my head for a while and has lots of stories to tell.  In the afternoon, we had free time for walking, thinking, writing on our own. I got some planning done for NaNoWriMo, so I think I’m ready to start tomorrow.

But that’s tomorrow. I’m sure I’ll be back writing about NaNo throughout November. For now, here are more pictures of the lovely writing escape. I’m off to get ready for the trick-or-treaters. Happy Halloween!

 

Glimpses of a day of writing

Glimpses of a day of writing

 

A Writer’s Day, October 22, 2016

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This is the first installment of a new thing I’m trying out–rambly, chatty reports on my writing life. I’m hoping sharing what I’m doing will get me doing writing things more regularly.

So this is a little bit of two pieces of my writing life. Notebooks and writing practice.

Last year I decorated the cover of the composition book I was doing hand written exercises in, and I liked it so much I decided I need to do that for all of them. I decided to call them “Words”  and number the volumes. It seems appropriate. I just started volume two a couple of weeks ago on my birthday.

I started Volume 2 at a writing group I participate in sporadically, PDX Writers (I started the last one at their Fall retreat last October–it’s becoming a tradition).   I really love PDX Writers. Even if I only get to a Saturday workshop once a month, it’s a real touchstone in my writing life.  It’s a place where I feel welcome, where people remember my name even when I’ve been away for a while. And most importantly it’s a place to share my words and hear everyone else’s words with no judgement, no pressure, nothing but words of encouragement.  It’s fantastic.

The Saturday workshops are drop-ins–relaxed and rich with prompts and great readings. Today’s was extra special, though.  PDX Writers bases their workshops and retreats on the Amherst Writers and Artists method, and today’s workshop was part of a fundraising event called Write Around the World.  Amherst writing groups all around the world used the same prompts to do their writing today so we got to be part of a worldwide event.

One of the best things about going to a Saturday drop-in is that I always come away feeling excited about my writing.  Tonight I’m writing about here to keep the enthusiasm going.  Tomorrow, I am going to work on some NaNoWriMo planning, and that needs plenty of enthusiasm.  And M&Ms. But mostly enthusiasm.

Brushing Off the Cobwebs

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It’s been a little bit, hasn’t it? Life took over (lots and lots of heavy life), and I let everything slide for a while.  But October and the approach of NaNoWriMo stirred me, so I’ve decided to dust things off and get things going around here.

Right now I’m trying out several online writing apps, so keep an eye open for a review soon. And I’m getting started on some NaNo prep, so I’m sure I’ll have things to say about that.  For now I just wanted to pop in and restart things.  See you soon!

Music to My Ears

Vinyl

I haven’t done a lot of writing this week, but I’ve been making progress on my ROW80 goals even so.

I’ve been making lists of story ideas to get ready for my upcoming short story classes. One idea that I had a few weeks ago, that I spent some time with this week, is finding story songs and using them to spark story ideas.  Friends shared a bunch of story songs with me (I need to put that list on here somewhere), and I came up with a few as well, and the idea seems to be taking off.  So far, I have story ideas from “Delta Dawn” by Helen Reddy and “Angie Baby,” also by Helen Reddy.  I have a few more songs that are tugging at me, so I’m going to dig up the lyrics and see what other stories emerge.

On top of all that, my favorite podcasters at StoryWonk launched a new podcast this week.  It’s called The Dollar Short, and it’s focused on examining some classic short stories and taking inspiration from them.  The first story was Raymond Carver’s “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.”  It’s more of a vignette, but it’s a fabulous character study, and I’m toying with a new idea that came to me from reading it.

To keep up with my other goals, I’m planning on some writing time this evening.  I’m going to look around for some description exercises so I can start honing that skill, because the only other writing session I did this week was a bit of free writing.

Oh, if anyone’s interested, on Monday my tiny online writing support group (on Facebook) is going to start reading and discussing Judy Reeves’ Wild Women, Wild Voices.  Come over and join in if you’re interested: Wild Minds Writers.

That’s about it over here.  I hope the words are treating you well!

What If?

ROW80Logocopy

I’ve been playing the “what if?” game in my head a lot over the past couple of months as we finally closed on a house, renovated it, moved out of the old place. Not much time for writing, lots of time for thinking in there.

What I’m thinking is that it’s time for some changes.  For the past handful of years I’ve been trying to build a coaching business.  As always, I thought I had to do something else and have my writing on the side.  But my writing has suffered for that idea, and I really don’t like it. I want to have my writing be my main focus.  Yes, I have a day job. But after that I want the writing to be my big thing.  I will probably still teach some classes and maybe still lead the writing retreat I’ve been dreaming up.  But I want to be a writer first.

I don’t entirely know how this is going to look.  I’m thinking about things like pen names and new websites.  For now, I’m going to stick with this site and dive back into writing.

I’m taking a 14-week short story class that starts at the end of January.  Then in late April, right as the long class wraps up, I’m taking a weekend-long short story intensive. And then I’m going to submit stories!  In the long class, the final assignment is actually to write cover letters for our stories so we can send them out.  This feels like a pretty good start to focusing on my writing.

I’m also planning on getting back to being a regular ROW80 participant.  Round 1 of 2016 starts tomorrow.  Here are my goals:

  • Write at least three days a week
  • Focus on story writing and description work (I tend to be sketchy on my descriptions, so I need more practice on that) more than on free writing
  • Go to PDX Writers Saturday workshops at least once a month
  • Post regularly for ROW80 and check in on other blogs

This feels like a pretty good list to get the year started, and I feel like these goals all blend well with the class work I’ll be doing.  I’ll be back on Wednesday to check in.

My Why

Stories to tell 3

This is from a post I wrote on MuseCraft™ about why I write and the difference between a passion for writing and love of story.

Right now, I’m in the first week of teaching a beta test version of a NaNoWriMo prep workshop, so I’m not actively writing a story at the moment.  But November is coming, so that will change.

Getting ready for the workshop (plus getting ready to move) helped me fall off the ROW80 wagon.  I’m hoping to do better in the final round, but meanwhile I wanted to do a sort of final check-in for this Round 3 even though it ended last week.

What’s going on in your writing life?  Are you writing? Planning?  Going to do NaNo this year?  I hope to see you there!

Not a Thing

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ROW80 check-in:

I didn’t get any work done on my story this week and only managed to check in on two or three blogs.  Not a stellar week in my writing land.  I *did* set up my new newsletter.  I’m moving from a general creativity focus to a writing/writer focus, and I’m very excited about the new direction.  (And if you want to sign up, you can do that here.)

I’m also working on a NaNoWriMo planning class starting September 28.  I’m looking for about 15 beta testers to help me do a practice run and iron out the details.  If you’re interested, just let me know in a comment and I’ll send you the sign-up link.

So I’ve been doing writing related things this week.  Just no actual writing.  Hoping for a better report next week.  See you then!

That Might Work

ROW80LogocopyI completely missed last week’s ROW80 check-in.  I’m surprised I managed to get to this today since Monday was a holiday so I keep forgetting what day it is this week.

I have loads of things going on (that whole buying a house thing really is like another job!), so I haven’t done as much as I wanted to recently with my story.  But I have made progress.

Last week I was ready to give it up.  I’m pretty much done with the read-through, and the verdict was not good.  I had lots of good writing but not much of a story.  I had no real motivation for my protagonist or my antagonist.  And the big finale I was leading up to? No real reason for it, not a big enough reason to make it necessary at any rate.

This was really disappointing because this story was the one I’d been holding in the back of my mind as the one, my really good story idea that was going to be really worth going back to and finishing.  And then it turned out to not be what I thought it was all this time.

I gave myself most of a week off to daydream and ponder and see if I could figure out how to make this into a viable story.  Not much came of it.  Then Saturday I was at my monthly knitting circle (I have the best knitting circle–Ph.D.s and academics and writers–we have the best conversations!).  Talk turned to writing, and I talked about my problem with my story.  Not much progress was made, but it was good to talk about it.  One proposed solution really didn’t work for me, but at least it was something to toy with.  I left still thinking I didn’t have much of a real story to work with.  Then on the ride home my answer came.

It does mean scrapping most of what’s happened in the story so far, but if I do this then it will actually be a story and not just a bunch of pages of interesting locations and dialogue and a few explosions.

Next step: planning and outlining.  I kind of want to get this done by the end of October so I can write the story for NaNoWriMo, but it looks like our closing date (if everything sorts out) is going to be mid-October.  So I’m not sure this is a feasible goal.  I’m going to call it a loose goal and go from there.  At least I have a real story idea now, right?

So what’s up with your writing life?  How’s everything going in your story?  Hope you’re having a great writing time!