A Writer’s Day, October 22, 2016


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

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


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?


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


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!



Progress Report August 26

Progress 01

It’s ROW80 check-in time.  I’m changing up how I do things to make it simpler for myself and more interesting and encouraging, at least for me.  Instead of “I did this, didn’t do that, didn’t complete the other thing” I’m going to do reports on what I did during the week.  In Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coaching we call it a Credit Report.  This one is going to be specific to my writing, but it’s the same idea.

This week I got to the two-thirds point in my Blood of the Mist read-through.  I also had some really good ideas for ways to make parts better and made notes about it (see those sticky notes poking out at the sides of my pages?) so I’ll remember what I wanted to do when I get back to the writing part.

I visited several ROW80 blogs and commented.  I’m glad to be getting back into that. It’s too easy to let things slip away even when it’s something you want to be doing.

I also had a tiny epiphany. I realized that I overestimate how much I can get done in a week.  That’s part of why I’m changing my check-in format.  The goals of “get the read-through done by X date” were more stressful than useful because I wasn’t hitting the goals.  And while some of that is due to my procrastination habit, it’s also because I do actually have other things I have to do every week, and doing my reading and note taking takes longer than I realized it would.  So my goals now are to keep checking in on blogs and to make progress on the read-through every week (although the time-keeper in my does think I’ll be done by this time next week).

That’s this week in my writing world.  What’s going on in your writing world?

Maybe Yes, Maybe No


It’s time for this week’s ROW80 check-in, and I’m just a little too tired to find a fancy image to go with my post.  ROW80 logo to the rescue!

Luckily my writing week went better than my image finding.  I’m not all the way through my read-through of Blood of the Mist–I’m never very good at figuring out how long something will take me.  I’ve made a lot of progress and have some really good notes about story ideas.

I think the story is good, too!  I think.  I can’t really tell.  I’m enjoying reading it after several years away from it, but to be completely honest I don’t know if I’m enjoying it because it’s good or because I really love this kind of story.  Is it good? Maybe yes, maybe no.  I know I’m liking it and feeling excited to move forward with it, and that’s the important part right now.

For the coming week I’m going to make a push to really finish this read-through and at least get started on scene notes.  I’m also going to do better at checking in on blogs because I completely failed at that this week.

I did one other big writing thing this week.  I signed up for a writing retreat in October!  I have always wanted to go to a writing retreat, and an opportunity opened up last night for a retreat not too far from home that I found out about after it was already full.  A group had to cancel, and suddenly there were open spots, so I snagged one.  I am so excited!  I am practically counting the days.

What’s going on in your writing life?  I hope you’re having a great writing week!  Drop me a note and let me know.

See you next time!

Story Work

Story Work 2

A very quick ROW80 check-in.  I’m still recovering from a fabulous weekend at the Willamette Writers Conference.

My head is so full of story, ways to tell stories, ways to plan stories, ways to make it better.  The spark from being around so many other writers and learning so much craft in such a short time is incredible.  (I did some presenting at the conference, too.  Here’s the blog post I wrote about that.

Two particularly fabulous things for my own WIP came from the weekend.  First, I took a workshop on loglines and reworked mine and feel like I really got it right.  I can see the story so much more clearly now.

The other thing that popped up for my story is that I’m watering things down.  I’m trying to be balanced and do story work and also writing practice, and what’s happening right now is that I’m not really getting any good work done on either front.  So for right now I’m going to turn all my focus to Blood of the Mist.  (Truthfully I’ll probably still do a little writing practice off and on because I always do, I’m just not going to focus on it right now and make a big thing of it.)

I’m going to read through what I already have a couple of times.  Right now I’m reading through and marking all of the character and place names so I can create notes for each one and reconnect with them.  Then I’m going to read through and make scene notes.  After the two read-throughs are done, I’m going to do a loose plot of the whole thing, and then I’m going to finish the first draft.

I don’t expect to get all of this done during this round, but I don’t really know for sure how long it will take.  I only know that I really want to finish this story, so that’s where I’m going to turn my attention.

I think I should be able to get through the first reading and character notes by next week’s check-in.  Hopefully that’s what I’ll be telling you about next time.  See you then!