I want my writing life to be cozy. I don’t entirely (or really even a little bit) know how that would look in my world. But I want it.
I have some other, more measurable goals, too. Maybe best to talk about those while I try to figure out that cozy thing.
Finish my NaNoWriMo 2019 story (I think I’m really close to an ending on my rough draft at least)
Edit and share my NaNoWriMo 2019 story with my writing group. I’ll do this a few pages at a time and take them to the meetings (we meet twice a month)
Have something to share at writing group at most if not all meetings (most = 80%, so I could skip sharing 5 times during the year)
Do writing practice at least twice a week while I’m mostly focusing on finishing and editing my story
These are longer term goals, I think, not just for ROW80 Round 1, but I don’t have a specific ending date. Or maybe I do. I’d like to have this story finished (and named!) and first pass edits done by September. That way I can spend some time planning and getting ready for this year’s NaNo.
That’s it. I’m trying to have goals but not have them so tight that I don’t have breathing room. This feels like where I want to be–doing some writing practice, working on a story, going to writing group. And going to the day-long writing retreats when I can. It feels like a good writing life. Now to figure out that cozy part.
I’m going to try to do a few blog posts for ROW80 this round. The past few rounds I’ve been doing my check-ins just on the Facebook page, and I’ll mostly still do that I’m sure, but it’s nice to have some posts to go back to so I can see what my plans were, see my progress. It’s not very easy to go back to a FB post and find my comments to see my progress.
One thing I’ve decided is that my check-ins will be more about how I feel about my progress. Goals and reports about specific numbers of days or words or pages written make me feel boxed in, and that’s not what I’m going for here. I’m just telling myself that up front, or reminding myself of it, so I don’t get caught up in tying myself up in minutiae.
Goals, ROW80 Round 4
Writing sessions 3-4 times a week (put them on the calendar!)
Go out to write at a coffee shop, etc. twice a month
I’ve been a storyteller my whole life. And I’ve been good at writing since we started learning to write paragraphs in elementary school. Combining the two was pretty natural. And I discovered a love for story structure and all things writing advice related. Clearly I was a writer.
But maybe not. Or not exclusively. And, what I haven’t admitted until recently, maybe not primarily. I always wanted to make art. I bought all sorts of art supplies and these thin and pricey books about how to draw and paint the ocean and how to draw trees and so on. But I didn’t have a natural talent for any of it. And I thought being an artist meant painting portraits or drawing sketches. That was all, and I wasn’t good at those. I was good at writing. So I was a writer.
But I was a writer who kept taking art classes. And then I found out that I had a talent for oil painting. I was in a workshop for a couple of years, and I improved, and my instructor encouraged me to keep painting. He even let me come to workshop when I didn’t have money for it because he said I should keep painting. But I stopped. Lots of reasons. But I stopped. It didn’t really matter, right? I was a writer who was interested in art, not an artist.
I’ve been holding onto that narrative for 20 years. I’m a writer who does art things. But the writing became more and more of a struggle because I really wanted to pour myself into the art stuff. But I’m a writer, I told myself. I’m a writer! I can’t just go around doing art all the time. I have to give my time to writing.
Sometime back in January? Early February? Sometime recently I had to open my eyes and admit that I want to spend most of my time on making things. I had to acknowledge that just because I’m good at writing and stories doesn’t mean that has to be my primary creative work. I had to admit that in some ways clinging to the writing was the easy path.
Am I stopping writing? No. I’m changing it, though. I think writing is crucial to my psyche. It clears my mind, opens my eyes, lets me see what I’m thinking and make new connections and build new ideas. But this isn’t from stories. It’s from writing practice, a beloved and very important part of my creative life. So I’m going to dedicate the writing part of my creative life to writing practice.
I’m going to stick with ROW80, too. I love the community and the connections I’ve made. It’s an important part of my life, and I want to stay with it. So here are my goals for Round 2:
I’m not sure what to check in about these days. I’m not writing except for an occasional blog post, although I keep meaning to write more. I guess that could be a goal, but right now I’m feeling really good about just doing what calls to me in the moment. Setting goals for my blog posts is something that I’ll need to do at some point, but now doesn’t feel like that point.
I guess I do have some goals. I’m doing a different 30 day challenge every month–this month is about brush lettering. So that’s a goal. And I have exercise goals every month. But what does that have to do with ROW80? I’m exploring being something instead of a writer (in additon to? alongside of?). So maybe I need to at least take a break from ROW80? I don’t like the feel of that, though, because this has been a big part of my online life for years now. I like being part of this. But I do feel like if I’m going to be part of this community still, I should have some sort of writing goals.
So, writing practice? I do still feel like writing, especially the freeform thought flow of writing practice, is for everyone. It enriches and expands creativity, acts as a form of meditation, lets you figure out what you’re thinking. I haven’t been really regular in my writing practice for a long time, though. But that might mean that some writing practice goals could be just the thing. I do want to bring it back into my life more regularly, so maybe that’s my direction.
I realized just before I started to write this (it’s what prompted this whole post) that it’s been a long time since I’ve done writing practice the way I used to when I was really regular and prolific. Just a few minutes ago it occurred to me that I need to find my way into a writing practice that meshes with who I am now.
This round of ROW80 is ending in a couple of weeks, so this is a good time for me to figure out how writing practice fits into the life I have now. I’m thinking about things like a space for my notebook and pen more out in the open where I see them all the time. A ritual to get each session started. This is a good starting place, and the more I’m writing about this the more I feel like this is the right direction.
Goals to wrap up this round: set up a space to keep my notebook and pen to put my writing practice closer to the forefront of my thoughts. And one short writing practice session a week to try out a couple of possible locations to do my practice regularly. Small goals, small steps, feeling like enough. That’s a pretty good place to be.
It’s been a busy couple of weeks at school. End of semester, final exams, last minute makeup work to grade, then the start of a new semester and a whole crop of new students. I’m starting my check-in this way because all of this may actually be why I’m not feeling a lot of focus around my goals even while I’m getting some things done. My perceptions may be skewed at the moment.
These were last week’s goals and what got done:
Write and publish a blog post for MuseCraft–DONE
Write at least the bare bones of a second post–STARTED
Spend at least 15 minutes working on the web page for the new offering I want to put up–NOT DONE
Do writing practice at least twice–NOT DONE
Find three recipes to make and freeze next weekend for future meals–NOT DONE (although I did get a giant box of frozen meatballs to use for easy dishes and made a list of dishes to use them in)
Get my embroidery project stuff reorganized so I can get back to that and eventually finish it.–STARTED
So, things done. Things not done. But I’m feeling like it’s all been in the background of doing all the things I need to do every day. I don’t actually know if this is a problem. It feels a little bit like a problem. I think I want a shining light that I’m aiming for. Instead, I’m just moving along, but I don’t see anything I’m heading toward. Anyhow, these are things to think about. Meanwhile, I’ll keep moving.
For the coming week, some more pointed goals (experimenting here):
Write another MC blog post
Share the post more than once
Share older posts at least twice
Rearrange my couch working area and put a notebook for blog post notes in easy reach
Do writing practice about what I want to aim for
Set up a work pouch for the embroidery project
I like the feel of this list. I’m looking forward to seeing how it feels as I work through it. Hope we all have a great week!
I love details. No, I need details. I need things to be just so. Not everything, but my important things. Notebooks and pens and paper and how I keep things like embroidery floss and my most-used and loved art supplies.
Sometimes my need for the just-so makes me take a long time to get started or do things. And for many years I thought that this was part of my procrastination tendency. I thought it was a way of stalling or not starting at all. And just today–actually just about a minute ago–I realized that’s not what’s happening. At least not all the time.
When I figure out exactly how I need a thing to be so that it works right for me, then I use the thing and do the thing. And for years, especially in recent years with the growing deluge of productivity articles and coaches, I believed that I needed to stop working to find what’s just right and just plow forward. Get things done! Just do it!
I don’t stick with those things, though. Or if I do, I don’t like it. I don’t feel happy with what I’m doing. Things feel off. So it’s important for me to allow for the daydreaming time and the experimenting with different things so I can find my just-so spot. The trick is to find a balance between getting what I need and using this for procrastination.
Right now I’m trying out keeping a single notebook, and I have paused several times because I’m working out just how I need it to be. Until today and my lightbulb moment, I thought I was just avoiding doing work. Today I realized that I’m creating the tools and containers that will let me do the work. Funny thing is, as soon as I noticed this I figured out how to handle one of the issues I was hung up on (taking notes from a book I’m reading while also continuing daily notes) in a way that will let me do both kinds of notes while also feeling workable and comfortable for me.
This past week has been about organizing and putting things in place to be used. There’s also been some writing practice and a bit of blogging. Mostly, though, it’s been about readying those containers and tools. This coming week, this is what I’m planning to do:
Create at least the template for the image for my new creative dream tarot spread offering
Continue daily decluttering through the end of January
It’s finals week, so there will be lots of grading of late work that kids are finally turning in. There will also be lots of making sure everything is ready to go for the first day of the new semester next week, so I think this short-but-sweet goals list is enough for this week.
I hope your week is sweet whether it’s short or long!
I’ve been thinking about something, or maybe around something, for a couple of years now. About the need to give one thing priority over the others in my list of things I want to do. Not stopping any of them, just making one the thing that gets the most time. But I haven’t been able to get myself to do it, because the thing I want to put at the top of the list isn’t writing, and somehow that makes me feel guilty.
But I’m ready to say it now. I don’t want to stop writing, but I want to put my writing on a lower rung than my teaching and coaching work. Why am I ready to say this now? I’m reading Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done by Jon Acuff. In Chapter 3, “Choose What to Bomb,” he says, “The only way to accomplish a new goal is to feed it your most valuable resource: time.” This followed on the heels of talk about how you really can’t do it all and all sorts of other good advice and good ideas. And I knew that I’ve been fooling myself by pretending that I can get a blog and website up and thriving while keeping my fiction writing my top priority.
So my goals are changing. Not really that much, all the same things are still on there for the most part, but they are changing. This is where I’m leaning right now:
MuseCraft: write blog posts or copy at least twice a week; share things on social media at least twice a week.
Writing: continue writing practice several times a week; work on flash fiction when time and interest converge; I want to see how it feels to just write for fun and brain clearing and not think about writing stories, finishing things, any of that.
Making things: fit in time regularly, at least twice a week, to work on creative projects just for me.
I have other areas I’d like to work on. I’m not sure how they will fit in with my job plus trying to build up the blog and website and coaching business. But I’d like to have a clean and welcoming home. I’d like to go out and do things more; I let my pain and ongoing exhaustion and general ennui keep me at home and alone more than is good for me I think. I want to make clothes for myself.
I need to work on professional development hours for keeping my teaching license up to date, and I need to find a full time position. I want to do more photography. I need to have food more organized and easier so we have decent meals even when I’m tired.
Most of all, I need to find ways to make this all feel more organic. I’ve been feeling like my life is just checking things off my list. I get a lot of things done, but too often it doesn’t feel like it goes together. It’s just separate little check boxes, and I don’t like the way that feels. So a more amorphous goal is figuring out how to get things done without feeling like all I’m doing is moving from task to task. But for now, I am going to focus on getting things done while enjoying things more. As Jon Acuff says in Chapter 4, “Make It Fun If You Want It Done,” “Make sure there’s laughing and smiling involved with that thing you’re going to do.”
Last week on Sunday I set goals for the week. Somehow, I forgot (or disregarded) the fact that I had a big event this weekend where I was running a meeting, arranging and manning a display table, presenting projects and documentation of my own, and helping evaluate projects and documentation for two other people. I actually did not have time for the goals I wrote up last week.
They were really nice goals, though, so I’m using them again this week. I should have time to actually work on them even! I think it will go better this week. So, this week’s goals:
Clean out my working pouches of embroidery floss and detangle it all
Do some writing about writing practice to figure out why it’s feeling dull
Write a blog post for my MuseCraft website
Create a page for a MuseCraft offering I want to put out in the world, find an image for it, and do a list of things I want to include in the copy
Continue the declutter project
One thing I did do this week was continue my 30 day 5-minute declutter project. That is actually going really well, and I have some clear spaces and a fe things organized now that weren’t at all that way on January 1. I’m really happy with this 5-minute decluttering because I know I don’t have to do a lot so I don’t feel overwhelmed, yet it’s getting things done. I don’t think I’ll continue an every day version after the 30 days, but I’m definitely adding this into my weekly schedule.
Now about those wants mentioned in the subject. I have so many things I want to try or do or make! I am constantly enticed by new and fabulous things (mostly crafts, really). I want to do so many things, and I gather too many supplies and tutorials, and I don’t do much of any of it most of the time because there’s just too much. So I’m having a notion, not solidified or ready to be a plan yet, that I need to decide on my primary crafts and get all of the supplies and tutorial and books and whatnot gathered in one spot for each of them. Everything else needs to either get given away or stored away for the possible, occasional use in the future. I don’t know how this will look, but it’s a direction I want to move in, so at some point some of these tasks will go on my goals list.
That’s about it for this week. I hope everyone’s having a lovely Sunday. Have a great week ahead!
It’s already time to start the first ROW80 round of 2019! And I don’t have goals set. I’ve been sick for three weeks, so that’s really sidetracked me. Last week I was so sick I didn’t even get to go to the family Christmas. I’m back to the base level congestion and headache that started it all, but the cough from last week is lingering, too. Bleah.
That’s not actually what I was planning to talk about, though. I wanted to talk about all the things I want to do. The list is huge. So I’m going to start with a general list and say that I want to work on all of these areas:
Getting more specific, I am going to try out setting some quarterly, monthly, and weekly goals. The new planner I got for the year is set up to help with that kind of planning, and I think it will be useful for me. I’m also going to set weekly goals for myself in my Sunday check-ins.
This week’s goals:
Find all the stray embroidery floss that’s roaming around the house
Set up a project pouch for the next embroidery project I want to work on
Do writing practice at least twice between now and Sunday
Spend 5 minutes a day decluttering studio things (this is to go with my first 30 day challenge of the year, decluttering every day; I’m keeping it small and simple)
My overall goals are a little bit amorphous right now, but I feel like since I at least have categories that will let me set weekly goals. I’m going to take the next few days before school starts again to get clearer on these goals and work on those quarterly and monthly goals to help me keep with the weekly goal setting plan. Hopefully Sunday’s check-in will be all about how I got that all set up–that’s the plan, anyhow.
Is there actually such a thing as pre-planning? I mean, isn’t it just planning? You’re planning what you’re going to work on, right? Pre-plan is actually in the dictionary and means to plan in advance. Isn’t all planning done in advance?
I didn’t mean to start off on a tangent, but as I was thinking of titles, the whole pre-planning weirdness really caught me. Still, I guess I’m pre-planning right now because I’m working on figuring out what I want to work on in 2019.
I have a list of nine (NINE?!) novels in some stage of progress. Some of them I had completely forgotten about, but when I went to the NaNoWriMo site to see what I’ve worked on over the years, there they were, titles just hanging around waiting for me to remember their stories.
So, nine novels to choose from (if I can find all of the relevant notes and drafts for all of them–there’ve been some computer changes over the years). And four short stories that I’d like to get finished.
My plan is to pick one of the novels to work on for the year. I don’t know if that means I won’t do NaNo in November. I think that will depend on how work on the chosen novel goes. I don’t know exactly how I will go about diving back into an old, partially completed novel. That will probably depend on which one I choose. But for right now I have the list of titles for both stories and novels all in one place, so it feels like the start of getting organized.
Next step (after Christmas) will be to find the files and documents and notes for the various novels and see what exactly I have to work with. Then I think I’ll be able to set some good Round 1 ROW80 goals.