ROW80

Leaving the Comfort Zone

Today, I will take a page from the RoW80 blog post  about leaving one’s comfort zone, doing something one has never thought one could do. I’ll start with a small thing. Last Friday night, I went to a fundraiser at Eden’s son’s school, where the main event was painting a version of the painting being done by an artist (there were two, actually) at the front of the room. I went because I knew it was a good cause, but I was dreading doing the painting. I have not painted anything other than walls and doors since 6th grade, and was convinced that the world was better off for that fact. To my surprise, I did far better than I expected. My painting will never grace a gallery, and was darker and less detailed than the original, but I did not feel it needed to be consigned to the trash. A baby step, but one that felt somehow momentous.

A larger baby step out of my comfort zone is NaNo rebellion, which is going rather well. I have officially signed up for NaNo only once before, quitting at roughly 16,000 words. I have more than that now, and I am still writing, some new words as well as editing old ones. While the majority of the new words are from working through the details of the conflict and the scenes, they count as foundation, even if they might not all end up in the next draft. After all, 50,000 brand new words from NaNo may not all end up in the next draft either.

There are many more baby steps to take me further from my comfort zone, but each step helps. I haven’t yet nailed all my goals for this Round, but I am doing much better than at the start of the Round. I plan to concentrate on the organizing goals, which call on different creativity from me, and which don’t come as easily.

Where are all of you as we have turned the bend and are in the last half of this Round? Are there goals you need to tweak?  I’d love to hear how everyone is doing.

Writing Goals:

Write one blog post every week.

Write three pages of fiction every week.

Write five pages of nonfiction every week.

Health Goals:

Walk forty minutes a day.

Use the standing desk at least three hours a day.

Keep up with medical appointments.

Organizing Goals:

Create project folders for each writing project.

Create a coloring book profile for each character in the novella.

ROW80

Round Four Week Four — Casting My Lot

Last week was still a struggle with my Type-A personality, but I made two baby steps in hopes that they will entice me to spend more time with my writing. I signed up for NaNo, fully planning to be a rebel and not to worry overmuch about word count. I also joined RWA and the local chapter. I think (and hope) that having committed to joining will encourage me not only to go to the programs, but to work on putting what I learn into practice.

I mentioned last week being awash with ideas. This past week I started to write some of them down and put them into idea folders. The RWA program I attended two weeks ago had to do with brand and identity, which I am still contemplating.  In the meantime, at least I have some ideas of what sort of things I want to write. I’ve been thinking about creature comforts lately, looking at the devastation in the Caribbean and the Sonoma Valley. I know better than to promise when these ideas will appear in the blog, but they are in formulation. As for my specific goals, listed below, I am doing far better on health and organizing than writing, but I hope all the thought will eventually pour out in words.

All the best to those NaNo pursuers out there, and words to all.

Writing Goals:

Write one blog post every week.

Write three pages of fiction every week.

Write five pages of nonfiction every week.

Health Goals:

Walk forty minutes a day.

Use the standing desk at least three hours a day.

Keep up with medical appointments.

Organizing Goals:

Create project folders for each writing project.

Create a coloring book profile for each character in the novella.

ROW80

Another Good Week

Iris
Photograph by Dana Ross Martin WANA Commons under a Creative Commons license

I am a bit sad today, since it is my late brother’s birthday. I’ve been thinking about my mother a lot, now that flowers are starting to show up here after our long winter. My mother didn’t pass her green thumb down to me, but I love flowers and work hard to keep them flourishing.  I remember that my mother planted iris like the one in the picture along our garage.

Despite my slight sadness, I had a good week, and I must admit I could get used to this new trend. Last Sunday evening, I crashed the local NaNo group writing meeting. Well, not exactly crashed, since I was invited by Eden. Also, I did sign up for NaNo in November of 2013, and was still somewhat a member of the group, even though I crashed and burned spectacularly that November.

During three 20-minute sprints, I managed to write over three handwritten pages, which is stunning for me, especially given the word count is closer to 300 than the standard 250 per page.  During the fourth sprint, I did some world building, which was still more than three-fourths of a handwritten page. It felt good, empowering, and proved again that I do not need perfect conditions, since I am definitely a lark, and writing from 7-9 in the evening is not optimal for my circadian rhythms.

This revelation helped me glide through almost a full week of frustration and having to redo work documents four and five times.  The week did end on a positive note, thank goodness.

I decided to resurrect Lapidary Prose, a long moribund blog, posting a First Friday Photo in a blog hop set up by Eden Mabee.  If you are interested, check it out.  No one needs to be a professional photographer, but merely to enjoy it.

I also had let Elizabeth Anne Mitchell, my other blog, fall into disuse, although not as long.  I posted a Friday Laugh, to get myself back into the swing of things.  I also spent some time yesterday queuing up posts.

In the past several months, I have seen a fair amount of push back against the common wisdom that authors have to blog often.  The argument is that blogging is fine, but if it interferes with writing, it is counter productive.  The proponents of blogging cite the admonition of those who say authors must create their own platforms to garner interest from traditional publishers. To be honest, of late I have blogged only for accountability, but then I have only been writing for the day job, so I can’t say blogging has gotten in the way.  

Have any of you noticed a change in the past couple of years regarding the advice about blogging versus writing?  I’d love to hear your comments.

Also, take a minute or two to visit with the other RoW80 participants here.

smaller EM

 

 

 

ROW80

ROW80 Check-in December 1

Once again, I have missed a couple of check-ins.  My life is still rather crazy, with one bright spot being that I have managed to keep up with writing 28 out of 30 days in the month of November. I’ve managed to increase my daily word output by 100%, consistently writing at least 500 words, and at times approaching 700.  I ended NaNo with 16,009 words–not even half of what is  needed to win, but more than enough to make me happy. While it was an interesting experiment, and provided some of the kick in the patootie to get me to write every day, NaNo really isn’t for me.  I am far more motivated by my ROW80 and other writing friends.

I wrote a post on gratitude  on my author blog (www.elizabethannemitchell.com), which has been stagnant for several months, following with one on thankfulness  for those who are no longer with me, in one way or another.  I have managed to catch up with replies to comments, and have kept up with my sponsor duties.

I read Kait Nolan’s Be Careful, It’s My Heart, sitting by a fire on a windy, chilly day. It’s a fun contemporary romance, based on the classic movie White Christmas, well worth reading. I’ve not been reading much else, these past few days, hoping to get some work done on my blogs, and planning  December goals.

My medical issues continue to surface, as I found out Tuesday I will need to have further surgery, but it will have to wait until I have the clot issues under control. My family issues continue, and the day job is not going well right now, as I have mentioned in the past.  It is very easy for me to focus on the negative, but I am concentrating on the half-full glass.

I am finishing up a four-day weekend with my family, the first such time off with my sons since I took on the day job over 18 months ago.  I have managed to write more than I am used to, even through some very tough memories.  I am able to indulge my creative side through knitting and quilting, which I have set aside for far too long.

I’d love to know how you are doing, if you did NaNo, are participating in ROW80,or are doing neither.  Also, if you have a chance, please go visit the other ROWers, whom you can find here.

ROW80

ROW80 Check-in November 17

With many blushes, I must apologize for missing the Wednesday check-in, and for falling behind on many of my goals.  This check-in will be quite brief as well, since the messiness of my life is not confining itself to the work week. ROW80 understands that writers have lives, thankfully.  There was an incident with my parents last week, and the resultant multiple emails and calls among siblings continues today.  Also, I had to return to full time at the day job, which, perhaps not surprisingly, flattened me.

Although I have kept up with writing every day, I have fallen behind on most of my other goals.  I do hope to make progress on comments on blogs, and replies to comments, today.  I did finish a beta read this past week, thank goodness!

Writing the memoir every day has become a habit, as has looking critically at what I need to learn about the craft.  I mentioned my need to work on dialogue in an earlier check-in.  I find that I need to work on plot quite a bit as well.  I’m not surprised–an article on early printed editions doesn’t have a lot of plot or dialogue–and, thankfully, not discouraged.

To that end, I have backed off reading as much fiction as I was a few weeks ago.  I haven’t begun reading books on craft, but I have decided which ones to read–that’s something, right? 🙂

If you have a chance, please go visit the other ROWers, whom you can find here.

ROW80

ROW80 Check-in Changes in Taste?

Hello, ROWers and all my other online friends.  I have had a pretty good week, despite a very disappointing incident with a couple of my direct reports at the day job.  However, I have better things to do than fret about that situation. My older son turned 22 yesterday–where the heck did the time go?  It has been good to recover with family and set day job irritations aside.

I’ve had the interesting experience of picking up two books that I had put down before because they did not appeal to me, but I really liked them this time.  Have any of you had that happen?  I mentioned  awhile ago the Alys Clare Hawkenlye series.  I tried to read Fortune Like the Moon ten years ago, and couldn’t get into it.  Although I haven’t worked back to that title (not in ebook from the public library), I’ve read most of the books in the series and truly enjoyed them.  Also, about five years ago, I tried to read Robin Hobbs’  Assassin’s Apprentice and abandoned it after about fifty pages.  I read it in one go on Friday, staying up until about 3 am. Do you think our tastes change that much? Or is it a confluence of circumstance and mood?

Ever since November 1st, I have been writing every day, and only failed to meet my 500 word goal once–and even then wrote close to 400.  I’ll take it!

I have kept up with my visits to ROWers, and am continuing to meet the goal of replying to comments within a week.

If you have a chance, please go pay it forward by visiting the other ROWers, whom you can find here.

ROW80

ROW80 Check-in November 6

As I announced on Sunday, I joined NaNo this year.  So far, I am finding it a fascinating experience. Two things have happened that I did not expect. My word count has gone up steadily from Day One.  Yes, I know that 5 data points mean nothing, but I take comfort in the fact that the NaNo widget told me I would finish on February 1st on Day One,  but told me today I would finish on January 30th.

However, far more exciting is my attitude.  For several reasons, I was unable to write first thing this morning.  I felt disappointed, but resigned, thinking that today might be the first day off, since I was so exhausted after the day job yesterday.  To my surprise and delight, the words burned in my gut all morning, through committee meetings and space planning, until I got them out on the screen. I have not felt like this in years, and it is so very welcome.

Working through the emotions of the writing is difficult but liberating.  I used to say in therapy years ago that the truth shall set you free, but first it will make you miserable.  I find myself remembering things that happened, thinking at the time that things were the same in other families and houses down the block and across the street.  It is when I look from the vantage point of being a parent myself that the sense of wrongness, of difference, is overwhelming.

I’m slightly under the weather this morning, so this will be a short report. I should make up for it at the next check-in.If you have a free moment, please go visit the other ROWers, whom you can find here.

ROW80

ROW80 Check-in November 3

I actually joined NaNo (or for any non-writers in the audience, the National Novel Writing Month) this year, at the last moment, after avoiding it like the plague for years.  I am writing at miserable rates for NaNo, which chides me, telling me how long it will take me to reach 50,000 words–I believe I’m up to February 1st at the moment.  However, it is still a lot for me–at least 500 words a day, which is twice my usual. I’ll take 50,000 words by February, and happily.

I want to entrench the habit of writing everyday. I know that no habit works for everyone, but writing every day first thing works best for me. It’s a struggle to get up early to write before the day job, so I’m glad to have had the last few days of convalescence to practice.

I am a NaNo rebel.  Despite my having several fiction plots in the wings, October bent me toward memoir. The writing is difficult, due to reliving a painful childhood.  I was not beaten or physically abused, but I was often hungry and neglected to the point of coming to the attention of teachers and neighbors. I want to understand what happened so that I can counter the effects it had on me.

In addition to the reasons I mentioned in last Wednesday’s check-in, I have avoided NaNo because I suffer immeasurably from word count envy; I repeat constantly the mantra, “I am not trying to win, but to establish a habit.”

Although I do have a day job I enjoy, I am not entirely looking forward to going back tomorrow.  I tire very easily; I only have one working arm; and I cower at the thought of what will be piled on my desk when I arrive *shudder*. I know that I will slip far too easily back into the Type A personality that is not good for my recovery. I suppose it will be a good lesson in not taking on too much. 🙂

So, I’m writing, very slowly, but writing.  I am replying to comments; I am working on beta readings, as well as continuing some pleasure reading.

How are all of you doing this fine November day?  It is crisp in upstate NY, and going to get close to freezing by morning.  Brrr!  If you have a free moment, please go visit the other ROWers, whom you can find here.

ROW80

ROW80 Check-in October 30

I surprised the heck out of myself yesterday, when my comment on Jenny Hansen’s Surviving NaNo post  somehow transmogrified into a pledge to 1) write every day 2) lock Ms. RedPencil, my infernal, internal critic in the closet 3) not edit AT ALL until December.

WHAT THE??  For those of you new here, I have refused to have anything to do with NaNo–not my style, not my speed, no interest in comparing myself with others and failing.

I am an academic, trained to weigh every word before, during, and after the pixels hit the screen.  I’m lucky to write 300 net words a day.  There’s a reason my email address is lapidary prose–I polish things to death! Read my articles sometime–no, on second thought, read them only if you suffer with insomnia and the doctors have admitted defeat.

So what happened?  Jenny nailed it in her reply to my comment–for some reason, I’m still here, when it was touch and go.  My husband told me he knew it was serious when the hospital had an R.N. accompany me to the testing area, to revive me if I arrested. It seems a little ungrateful not to change one’s life, given the circumstances. And here’s November, so . . . . I’m not signing up officially for NaNo, because, well, I haven’t plotted, or done character sketches, or . . . well, I don’t have a good excuse not to, but, oh heck, maybe I will.

On other fronts, I *finally* replied to comments made on my Round Three sponsor post. I have to catch up with comments on Sunday’s check-in, but plan to do that this evening.

I also began a beta read, which I am enjoying immensely.  I’ve done the Ms. RedPencil English professor thing on it, and plan to re-read for continuity, characterization, and flow.  It’s a great read.

I promised two other writers readings, and have owed them for some time.  My apologies. I find I need to read in paper to do them justice; the logistics are a bit squirrelly at the moment, but I plan to have them printed out in the next few days.

I continue to read for pleasure.  I often cannot sleep, so I read.  I ran across Eloisa James, and have enjoyed her romances.  Her heroines are not the usual type, which I find appeals to me far more than the retiring innocent who somehow transforms in the right man’s hands.  Not to offend, but I’ve tired of the latter milquetoast heroine.

I hope everyone had a great October, and is looking forward to November.

Please go visit the other ROWers, whom you can find here.