Round 4 Goals

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
  • Do NaNoWriMo
  • Go to at least one writing group a month (I have two to choose from, I just have to get myself out of the house)

Now

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.

Pre-planning

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. 

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.

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!

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!

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.