Where Do We Go From Here?

Photo by Bryan Minear on Unsplash.

I’ve had a bit over a week of resting up after the NaNoWriMo marathon, and now my mind is turning toward the future. I’m always making plans and setting goals and working on projects and thinking of next new projects, but this time of year really brings that out in me. 

Right now I’m mostly focused (yeah, focused, not obsessing over, just focused a lot all the time) on two things. Thing one–what stories do I want to work on in the coming year? Thing two–what non-writing creative projects do I want to do next year? Tied into these is the overall question of how I can keep myself moving forward. Consistency has always been a problem for me, and I’m brainstorming ways to make that better.

Over the next two weeks I want to continue doing writing practice, not working on any stories, just writing to let thoughts out. I want to set up supplies for doing a vision board and for setting up my planner for 2019. I want to get all of the stories I’m thinking about onto one drive, and then I want to read bits and pieces, fine my old notes if I can, just play with them to see if one of them really jumps out at me as something I want to spend a lot of time with. 

And then it will be winter break, and I can spend time working on my planner and vision board and looking at the story and doing some jigsaw puzzles and generally recharging so I can maybe calm down from the really stressful and hectic months I’m coming off of, and hopefully I’ll have good, clear goals and a plan for how to reach them when it’s time to start Round 1 of ROW80 for 2019. 

NaNoWriMo 2018

I wasn’t really sure I was going to do NaNoWriMo this year. I told myself I shouldn’t–I had so much going on! I jumped into a rather strange teaching position this year (cooking and marketing classes, neither of which are my actual subject area), and I’m spending a lot of time reading and finding materials and making lesson plans, just trying to stay one step ahead of my classes. Doing NaNo wasn’t really a good idea.

But the call of NaNo was strong. I really wanted to do it whether I should or not. I do it almost every year (the exceptions being the year my mom died and the year we were renovating our new house and moving in during late October and all of November). In the midst of all of the completely unfamiliar territory of the new teaching job, I think I also wanted that familiarity of the NaNo experience.

So I did it. But I didn’t have time to do planning. I tried. I got a couple of character names and a basic idea of where they would be and what would be going on (paranormal explorers investigating a deserted island once occupied by a mystical cult and said to be haunted). So I decided to be a pantser this year.

As you can see by the graph of my day-to-day word counts, I had a hard start to the month. Parent conferences, trying to work with a bunch of kids who are behind on work, the general constant planning I’m doing to create lesson plans since I’m starting from scratch for each unit.

On day 22, I had less than half of the 50K goal. I tried to tell myself it was okay to not make it to 50K. I actually really do believe that! Except I couldn’t accept it for myself. I said I wasn’t going to make it; I wasn’t going to win this year. I couldn’t accept that. So I pretty much ran myself into the ground the last ten days of November, and I dragged myself over that finish line with about six hours to spare.

I do not recommend this.

This NaNo experience has left me thinking about my capabilities, though. I can clearly put in the hours and do the work. So why do I only do it during November? I do some writing throughout the rest of the year, of course, and I do other creative things. But there’s no regularity to it (I’ve talked about this problem before). I don’t actually know how to change myself, even though I help other people learn new ways to get things done and reach their goals.

Of course, they have me to check in with, to encourage them, to remind them of deadlines. That’s the part I keep trying to do for myself, but I think I might need an external motivator. This coach needs a coach!

Still, I’m pretty proud of myself for the NaNo win. And I know I am capable of doing a lot when I can find the energy and focus. Maybe I just need to start looking for that focus in new places.

Round 4!

I can’t believe we’re already in the last round. This year swooshed by me! But here we are, time for the final round of ROW80 for 2018. At least goal setting for this round is always easy. It’s NaNoWriMo season! The goals practically set themselves.

The only hard part about goals for this round is what to do about December. I have so far never done a good job of keeping things rolling after NaNo, and this year I’d really like to change that.

I am mulling over how to make December not feel like a flop this time around. I’m thinking that separating my goals out by month might be useful, so I’m going to try that out.

So, here they are! My Round 4 Goals:

October:

  • Work on NaNo planning at least 4 times each week
  • Continue writing practice at least 3 times a week
  • Blog at least 3 times

November:

  • Work on my NaNo story at least 4 days a week
  • Run a weekly online write-in
  • Go to or host at least two in-person write-ins
  • Blog at least 2 times

December: 

  • On December 1, write a blog post with more precise December goals
  • Include some sort of work related to my NaNo story
  • Blog at least 3 times

Pretty Close

I came close to my goal of having a name for my character. I’m not quite there yet. I have it narrowed down to two, and I’m hoping that as I do a little work getting to know her I’ll figure out what her name is supposed to be.

This part, figuring out whose story I’m telling, always gets the excitement building in me. I can feel that buzz in my stomach, and I’m starting to see images of scenes. I can’t wait to start the planning on this one!

I still have some work to do on my NaNo planning class, but I am far enough along that I can say it will be ready to start on the 24th. And I will have a registration page tomorrow. So that goal is pretty close to met, too.

I didn’t have as much time as I expected for working on all of this because I got a three-week sub job! I was not expecting that so early in the school year, but I’m really happy it came along. I may have to readjust my schedule a bit, but it’s so worth it. I am so glad to be back in the classroom!

For now, though, I’m going to go out and enjoy this sunny and warm-but-not-hot beautiful late summer day. Happy writing everyone!

Stirrings of Fall

I love fall. I think I’ve mentioned this a million or so times before. But this time of year hits, and I come alive. I have ideas, I’m ready to do things. And one of the things I do in the fall is NaNoWriMo. This year, I’m taking part in their fun Instagram challenge in September. Today’s prompt was “cover art,” so I made this for my horror story.

I’m also gearing up to teach my “Plan Your NaNo” class after a couple of years off, so most of my writing is centered around updating and touching up the materials for that. But I also made a cute graphic for it (apparently this week is for making graphics). I’ll share that below, because I’m kind of proud of it.

So not a lot of writing is happening, but there’s a lot of writing-adjacent activity. But after a really droopy summer, I’m feeling like things are moving again, and that feels very good.

I got a new idea for NaNo just over a week ago, so I need to get moving on fleshing it out. I’m going to set a goal of having a character name and some background on her by Sunday. See you then with an update!

Checking In

I don’t really have anything to report, but I haven’t written a post in so long. I figured now’s a good time. Job hunting and the inherent stresses of that and of being unemployed are weighing on me. I do some writing practice, I do some MuseCraft™ work, I do things around the house.

Sometimes writing doesn’t get to be the priority. Sometimes there’s just not enough brain power and mental space for it. I feel like this is an important message, so I’m just reminding myself and maybe you, too. The writing is always there. It will be there when you can make space for it again. We’ll do just fine. Don’t worry.

Unstructured

I have too much time on my hands. I’m not getting anything done. There’s no structure in my life right now, and it’s making it hard for me to settle down and do things. So I don’t really have much to report for ROW80 this week. I’m just making a report to touch base and maybe build a little bit of my own structure. Being unemployed is annoying. And I have so many things I would like to do. But I can’t seem to pick one and focus and do the work. At least it’s Sunday. Let’s call this the start of a new week. I’m going to make a list of things and try to get some sort of rhythm going in my world.

Breakthroughs and The Beatles

Photo by Mink Mingle on Unsplash

I’ve been revamping my MuseCraft™ website, getting ready to offer some new classes and coaching options. And I really got hung up on the “about” page. I’ve been trying to write it for over a week, and I had little phrases and half thoughts and not much else to show. So yesterday I took my notes and my laptop to my writing group to work on it some more, and I was not doing any better than I had been on my own. And then a new CD came on. The Beatles. I didn’t notice it until halfway through the CD and most of the way through actual, coherent and cohesive copy, but my focus just dialed in as soon as that music came on.

I usually write with the TV on. Reruns of things I like or movies I love, things I’m really familiar with–never anything new that I want to watch. Something about the TV playing usually helps me write (except in the case of that “about” page, but everyone knows those things are special and troublesome). Usually, music distracts me, because if a song I like comes on my attention is immediately drawn to the song and away from my writing, and instrumental music doesn’t offer enough of a distraction to my internal editor to let the writing flow.

Maybe because the Beatles songs are so familiar they get my editor singing along (internally–I promise I didn’t inflict my singing on anyone!) so the writing can progress unimpeded. Whatever it was, I’m planning to get that album and add it to my playlists for when I need a little more focus.

I hope everyone else is making progress and having some breakthroughs, too!

ROW80 Goals–Round 3

I can’t believe we’re already heading into Round 3. We’re also fully into summer. School ended last week, and I have weeks stretched out in front of me needing to be filled. I’m limping along, trying to get some summer work, and if I’m not careful I’ll paralze myself with shoulds and wishes and end the summer stressed out and with nothing to show for the time spent.

Summer used to be one of my favorite times of year, second only to fall. It was my time to reset and reinvent myself. I always filled my summers with goals for exercise and better eating and writing and projects. And it kept me engaged and in motion, and I need that right now. Substitute teaching has ended, I don’t have solid summer work, and I don’t know if I’ll have a teaching job in the fall or if I’ll have to move on to some other work. This all feels like things that are out of my control, so I need a few things that are in my control.

I’ve been feeling pulled to return to my coaching work. I love working with writers and creatives and helping them move forward and keep moving toward their goals. I put it on hold when I moved to a new house and then immediately heard that my office was closing and decided to renew my teaching license and jump into substituting. All of that has kept me busy, but I really miss doing the coaching work and teaching creative writing and doing all of that fun stuff.

So my goals for Round 3 are going to be a combination getting MuseCraft up and running again and continuing with my personal writing practice.  I need to make sure the foundation for MC is sturdy and then start building up the blog and some offerings (see, just like that picture up there–a foundation and then one thing and then the next stacked up).  And I need to keep doing writing practice because my brain and my heart both need that, plus my writing is better when I practice.

Round 3 Goals

  • Write copy for a new landing page
  • Write new “about” copy
  • Work on essays for the new non-fiction book that has bloomed in my mind; get at least five of them done this round
  • After the landing and about pages are done, start blog posts at least once a week
  • Continue writing practice at least three times a week

Time Stretches

I thought I’d do a blog post to check-in since it’s been a while. I thought I’d be taking a break for a week, maybe two, but time has pulled away from me, and even though it’s a month later I find I still need the downtime.

I’m in the midst of trying to find summer work and looking for full-time work for the fall. Writing is haphazard and solely focused on writing practice right now. I am still in Lull mode, resting, trying to do what I need to do. Reminding myself that I will have more writing time after I take care of the employment stuff and get all of that sorted. For now, writing practice and resting will do.