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.

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!

ROW-ing Again

Start here

Start here

I got busy (again) and fell away from ROW80 (again).  But I’m back (again).

In the Round 3 goals-setting post (linked above), Kait made some great points about habits that help and habits that hinder.  I looked at my own habits and can clearly see where I stumble every time:

  • I procrastinate and do my writing and my blog posts at the last minute
  • I’m inconsistent in how often I write
  • I don’t make plans for when and what I’m going to write to help counteract the previous two bad habits

Things that generally help me get my writing on track:

  • Setting smaller goals that focus on frequency of writing rather than word count (unless it’s NaNoWriMo, then that flies out the door)
  • Scheduling when I’m going to write (loosely, like “Thursday afternoon before leaving work)

With all of that in mind, here are my goals for this round:

  • Write fiction three days a week
  • Post at least one ROW80 check-in weekly
  • Comment on at least five ROW80 blogs each week

That’s it.  I want to write regularly, and I want to get back to being active in the community.  These are simple and straightforward and should get me what I’m after.

How about you?  What are you writing?  Are you doing ROW80?  Let me know what’s going in your writing life so we can encourage each other.

That’s a Terrible Idea!

Eye Roll 01

Can you believe I was thinking that?

I didn’t write this week.  I had a couple of things going on that changed my normal schedule, and it threw me off track.  So then I wasn’t going to do a ROW80 post this week because I have nothing to report, and really it’s kind of embarrassing to admit that the first week out of the gate, the first week when I was going to actually be putting words on paper for a story, I did nothing (well, no actual writing of story, but I did change a few things that made my plan for my opening scene much better I think).

But not posting when I’ve had a bad week is a bad idea.  So, here’s my “nothing  to report” report.

Back on the horse. Cutting out the weekly word count goal right now until I re-establish a regular writing routine.  That’s my plan for this week.  Write three times, even if it’s one sentence each time.  Just write something.

Do you have a plan for the week?  Let’s be in this together!





Starting to Finish

ROW80 Badge

I’m just going to do a quick ROW80 check-in because I’ve been super busy for over a week, and I’m not done yet.  I’ve been super productive, too, so it’s all pretty good.  I haven’t been just running around doing busy work and not accomplishing anything.  I didn’t get as much of the novel planning done as I had hoped, but I am still determined that I am starting to actually write the story this week.

This is what I’ve done writing-wise to get things going so I can actually finish someday:

  • Decided on a weekly word count goal–5,000 words/week broken into three sessions
  • Set up a word count meter (over there to the left) for Inheritance
  • Figured out a problem with my antagonist that makes what she does make so much more sense
  • Created a writing schedule (Wednesday and Thursday nights and one floating day to reach my 5K)
  • Came up with a decent logline which always seems to help me focus on my story and really get it moving

I set a preliminary goal of 80,000 words for Inheritance because that seems like a good starting point.  It’s a genre novel, paranormal/horror at that, and I’ve read that those are expected to be a little bit on the short side.  80K may not be right.  It may end up longer.  But I figure it’s a good number to aim for starting out.  At 5K words/week it will take about 4 months to get a first draft written.  I want to have a full draft written and at least the first chapters through one revision by the end of July because I want to take it to the Willamette Writer’s Conference in August and pitch to an agent.  I don’t expect this one to be my groundbreaking first novel, or necessarily even my first published novel.  What I do want is to start practicing some of the submission process so I have a feel for it so I can guide my writing clients through it better.  And, although I know this isn’t true, I’ll feel more like a writer if I’m submitting at least now and then.

So that’s where I am now.  Next week you’ll see progress on that shiny new word meter, and maybe I’ll have a little more time to do a fuller post.  I hope the writing is going well for everyone!


The Things I Do

Sometimes, the things I do distract me and I forget to hop over here and do a post or a ROW80 check-in.  Oops!  But I’m here now, so that’s something.

I have pretty good reasons for not being here last week, too!  I was busy making this:

WYS Yellowtail 2

I’m also working on creating a couple of classes and a retreat, so it’s all sorts of exciting in my world! It’s distracting, though, as I mentioned.  I’m not getting to as much of my personal story writing as I had hoped.  But I’m learning how much I can fit into a week, and I hope that’s going to help me make regular space for writing again.

Meanwhile, even though I’m still not finished with outlining and planning, I intend to start writing Inheritance on February 2.  That was the plan, and I’m going to stick with it.  If I don’t have an outline, I’m okay with that.  I at least have the anchor scenes planned out from doing Sufficiently Advanced Magic with Alastair at StoryWonk.  It’s probably enough.  It’s definitely enough to get me started, especially since I’ve been spending some time getting to know my characters better.  With them feeling more like real people to me and a basic view of my biggest scenes, I think I’m ready to go.

Next week I’ll be putting up a word counter for Inheritance.  If you see that it’s not moving, give me a nudge! We can all use that little helping hand, right?

So what about you?  Where’s your writing life right now?  I hope the words are flowing!

See you next time with a report on actual words written!

Getting Started

Once Upon a Time

Jumping in for a quick ROW80 check-in.  I just set my goals on Monday, so I’m not quite up to speed yet, but I am getting started.  I’ll be working on the planning stuff tonight to see if Wednesday is a good day to schedule as a writing day.  Not that writing or writing-related stuff doesn’t happen pretty much every day.  I just want to have a few dedicated days each week where I know I intend to spend at least an hour diving in.

I think my writing practice days will be Mondays and Fridays.  Those are the easiest days usually to fit in a quick free writing session because, while they both can be busy days they both tend to be a little more flexible for some reason.  We’ll see how that goes.

For now that’s really it.  I’m still setting things up for my year, so there’s lots that’s still amorphous (I love that word and probably use it too much), but it feels pretty good.

Oh, a quick geekly thing.  We watched Agent Carter last night.  It was so good, I’m thinking of rewatching the episode just to catch any little tidbits I missed!  We also watched Galavant which I was sure was going to be stupid and which absolutely isn’t.  It’s funny and charming and lots of fun.  Also a great way to time something in the oven if you’ve downloaded the episode, because it’s about 20 minutes.  Double-bonus!

Okay, really that’s it for me now.  Tons to do, not much time left before the evening commute, all the usual stuff.  I’ll be back next Wednesday for ROW80 (probably going to stick with that once-weekly check-in schedule rather than the Sunday and Wednesday check-ins although I don’t know that for sure yet).

Drop me a note and let me know what you’re spending time with–I might need to add it to my mix!

A New Year, a New ROW

ROW80 BadgeI’m actually glad the holiday season is wrapped up.  I am so glad to be getting back to a regular schedule again, although all those extra days off were pretty nice.

One of the things I’m getting back to is ROW80 (I’ll be getting back to sharing my geeky delights, too, just not today).  I did a few weeks at the end of the year to dip my toes back in, but now I’m ready to jump all the way in.  And this post on The Myth of the One True Way is a great kickoff to the new round.  I have fallen into that trap so many times, thinking I need to find the right way to write a novel.  Even when I’ve qualified it with “the right way for me,” it’s just been a stumbling block.  The right way to do it is to jump in and find what works as I go.  The right way is to actually get it done.

I’m not saying that I don’t want to do any novel planning.  This is about going beyond plans and doing the real work.  I just have to remind myself–probably over and over and a million times over–that it doesn’t have to be right.  There’s no such thing.  It just has to be done.

My ROW80 Round 1 Goals:

  • Finish working through K.M. Weiland’s Outlining Your Novel Workbook.  How I’ll do it: post updates on Twitter daily to announce what I’ve done and then post here weekly with a round-up of all of those posts. (This “how I’ll do it” thing is something new I’m trying out to see if it helps me stay on task.)
  • Write 30,000 words on Inheritance.  How I’ll do it: once again via daily Twitter updates and weekly updates here.
  • Twice-weekly writing practice for free writing and working on craft. How I’ll do it: take to Twitter once again and invite people to write with me and share their progress and maybe snippets of their writing; I’ll also mark these sessions on my calendar to see if that keeps the intention fresh in my mind.