ROW80 Check Ins

On the ROWd Again


The ROW has come ’round at last, and a new round lies before us.

By “at last” I mean “almost two weeks ago.” The latest round began Oct 2, but it’s never too late to join. Actually, once the round is over, it’s too late to join. But there’s always the next round.

By ROW, I mean ROW80, the marvelous bloggy challenge that offers us a platform to create goals (writing and otherwise), a cheering section to keep us motivated (while you, in turn motivate your fellow ROWers) and accountability  (since goals are publicly announced).

Also, there may be a very small chance that, upon failure to meet your goals, you will be set upon by zombie hounds…okay, okay, so that last part isn’t true…but, if it keeps you motivated, go with it.

Anyway, you can read more about ROW80 here and see the latest check in post here.

On the to goal stuff:


Long Term Goal

My plan is to complete the “official” first draft of my WIP manuscript by the end of this year. I say “official” because the manuscript is written, but there were changes made to characters and plotline in later scenes that haven’t been incorporated into earlier scenes. I can’t consider the draft complete until all those changes are worked in. A few scenes need to be written from scratch as they were skipped during the initial write-through or the need for them arose later. I’m not worrying about any other edits on this pass.

There are roughly 90 scenes total, 10 of which have been reworked so far. That leaves 80 scenes to rework by Dec 31. That means 8 scenes a week.


This Week

I’m going to start slow, even if it means I’ll have to really push later. I’ll focus on reworking 2 scenes (more, if possible).



Long Term Goal

Play O Come, O Come Emmanuel fluidly and with grace by Christmas. Over all, improve tone, bowing, finger dexterity and rhythm.

This Week

I’m currently working through a passage that’s been very challenging for me. I’ve got it roughly up to tempo. I’ll be working on playing the passage smoothly, at tempo, then playing the whole piece (up to the end of the current passage) along with The Piano Guys audio.


Long Term Goal

Looking at the FBI fitness scoring for agents inspired me to set some specific goals I can (hopefully) use as markers for overall fitness. My baseline is a far cry from even the lowest scores, which is especially frustrating because I felt like I was making more strides with my regular workouts…but I wasn’t doing any of the specific exercises on the list. I want to be at least mid-range.

First, I’ll focus on sit-ups and push-ups. I’ll leave the running/sprints until later. I also plan to hold steady with 3 “regular” workouts a week.

This Week

I can currently, and barely, eek out 10 modified push-ups. I’ll be working on feeling strong with those before moving on to regular push-ups.

For sit-ups, I can do 10. I feel a bit stronger with those than with the push-ups. I’ll add 5 more for a total of 15.



This Week

We have Spaceballs (1987) on the agenda for family movie night.


What’s on your goal list this week?



Photo Credit
Road by Kārlis Dambrāns, on Flickr | CC By 2.0



Life and Stuff

A Day in the Life of a Procrastinator

Procrastination, my old nemesis (sometimes friend), has reared its head the last couple of weeks. I found a video that pretty much sums things up:

In my current procrastinator mode, I don’t know whether I’m giving myself a break to replenish my creative reserves (writing-wise), brewing something great (sometimes procrastination episodes have worked out like that for me), or just plain slacking off (which is a distinct possibility). At the moment, I’m just riding it out.

How’s it going for you? Are you a procrastinator? Do you embrace it or fight it?

Life and Stuff

There is Always Light

Be the light in the world

Many of us are still reeling in the aftermath of the massacre in Vegas. When something like this happens, we tend to question everything. We’re in pain, sad, afraid and angry. We want reasons. We want fixes. We want to make something like this never happen again. But we know it will. History tells us it will.

It’s so easy to give in to the dark emotions, to look at ourselves and say there’s something fundamentally, unfixably corrupt about human nature. We can point to all the horror we can inflict on one another and say: see, that’s what we are. When the chips are down, and the masks are off, we are the monsters we should fear most.

But I don’t agree. Most vehemently, I do not agree. It’s times like these, in disasters both human made and natural, that we see how good we can be. Yes, we’re profoundly flawed, all of us. But we are good too.

One doesn’t have to look very far to find the stories of courage and sacrifice emerging from Vegas. People throwing themselves over loved ones and strangers to protect them from bullets. People carrying others to safety. Law enforcement running into the line of fire to stop the killer.

And it’s not only Vegas. In any disaster, look and you will find people reaching out to others. Yes, there are the rioters and looters, those who will indulge their greed at the expense of the suffering, but they are not all of us. I would even say they are not most of us.

We can and should mourn evil actions, seek to prevent them whenever we can, but we should never give into the temptation to throw up our hands in despair or give into darkness.

You and I, we can choose to be light in the darkness. We can choose to reach out our hands to help instead of hurt. And every act of goodness we do reverberates, reaches further than the evil. Our actions encourage others around us to do good as well.

Be the light.

Photo Credit
Day 89/365. The light will eventually reach you! by Tarang hirani, on Flickr | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0



How Do You Get Unstuck?

cat in a tree
Climb the tree, they said. It’ll be easy, they said. There’s a tasty bird’s nest…Oh well. At least the view is nice from up here.

Stuck. Blocked. Out of juice. We’ve all found ourselves there, especially creative types (how we do like to get ourselves in trouble). How is sometimes, in the middle of being stuck, you can’t seem to remember how you ever got unstuck before? You think, I know I’ve gotten myself out of these situations somewhere along the line. Sure,  maybe it’s not the same exact situation, but there must have been something similar enough to help out now.

And, in your head, all you hear is crickets.

And maybe the occasional giggle.

Or maybe that last part is just me. *shrug*

Maybe the problem is we often approach creative problems haphazardly. We chip away at them or ignore them, hoping they’ll go away already. Eventually, something shakes loose, and we go on our merry way…until we hit the next wall.

Shouldn’t we have a standard protocol for creative blocks? Some kind of ten step process (where at least two of the steps will involve drinking copious amounts of coffee and/or whiskey)?

Or maybe a standard protocol is too one size fits all, but each block is its own kind of beast (or we like to imagine it is). And half the problem is just figuring out what’s causing the block in the first place. The reason recommends the solution and all that. So, perhaps a flowchart instead.

Something like this:

the only flow chart you will ever need

Only more expansive and with creative/writer stuff.

As you might’ve guessed, I’m a little bit stuck. For the last few months, I’ve been pulling together the first draft of my manuscript. A few scenes were skipped in the original write through. Other scenes need to be altered to fit changes made to the plot/characters later on in the writing process. A few times, it’s become apparent I need to add a scene here and there to make the story work. Some of the scenes need to be rewritten entirely.

I’m stuck in the middle of one such scene. It’s an exposition scene, which makes it tricky to begin with. And it has to take place in a rather confined space and with less action than the scenes before and after it. I could Pope in the Pool it (see Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat), but I’m not sure how to do that here.

Fortunately, things are beginning to shake loose. I decided to make one character extremely agitated (which fits the situation anyway) and let that drive much of the dialogue. That and a lot of cross talk between several characters regarding several different parts of the exposition.

But it’s still slow going.

Usually, I ask myself a bunch of questions when I’m stuck. What does this character want? What has to happen next? What’s the scene goal? All that jazz. I think I’ve asked myself all the questions I can here, but it hasn’t really helped.

Or I, if I know how the scene must absolutely end, I work it backwards. That might work here…I suppose I could try it.

I guess I do have an inner flow chart of sorts…I’m just not very organized about it.

At any rate, I’m working through the scene. It’ll get done eventually.

But maybe I’ll try my hand at coming up with a formal flowchart. If nothing else, it’ll be a good way to procrastinate on the writing.


How do you overcome being stuck?

Photo Credit
Stuck by Alison Benbow, on Flickr | CC BY 2.0
the only flow-chart you will ever need by Jeremy Holmes, on Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0


ROW80 Check Ins

End of the ROW

red fox
There’s a finish line here somewhere. I just know it.

We made it to the end of this round of ROW80*. Break out the champagne. Or something.

Officially, ROW80 was up on the 21st, but I wanted to finish out the week for my goals…mostly because I forgot about the last week of ROW80 being a half week when I was working up Sunday’s goal list.

Overall, this round was a mixed bag for me. I feel like I was much, much slower on my writing than I would have liked, but I was solid on all my other goals.

And there’s some insight on my personality right there. I can do well on most of my goals and still bemoan slow progress on one goal. Silly, really. I need to celebrate the wins, then figure out how to make those wins in my weaker areas (lately, writing).

So, not a mixed big. Overall, the ROW was successful. Go me.

Let’s take stock, shall we? You can see last week’s goals here. Continue reading “End of the ROW”

ROW80 Check Ins

That’s How it ROWs

cat on a bench
I see you up there, goals. I will get you.

You know how, when your foot falls asleep and goes numb, then wakes up with that horrible pins and needles sensation? You know it’s going to pass, but it drives you nuts until it does. You just have to remind yourself, it will pass.

At the moment, that’s what I’ve got going on with my motivation and enthusiasm. They’re waking up, so that’s good. It’s just not the most comfortable experience.

Add a nice bit of jury duty (still ongoing, by the way) on top of all that, and it makes for an interesting week, goal-wise.

Anywho, let’s see how much go there’s been in my ROW* since last check in: Continue reading “That’s How it ROWs”

just for fun

Which Friend Are You?

ROW80 Check Ins

Every ROWse Has its Thorns

Cactus Flower

For the last few weeks, I’ve been struggling to keep my productivity up. It’s partly a (temporary) lull in motivation, partly some minor life upheaval, and partly creative fatigue. I’m thankful things are beginning to turn around. The effects of the minor life upheaval have dissipated, motivation is beginning to revive and the creative well is (slowly) refilling. I’m looking forward to regaining a happy momentum…the sooner the better.

This experience has reminded me that I need to plan for dips in motivation and creative fatigue. Both are normal parts of any goal-oriented journey. And I’ve realized that I can’t always rely on momentum alone to keep me going. Friction, my friends, is the enemy of perpetual motion machines and mental processes (different kinds of friction, I know…but, whatever).

Now, I just need to put a plan together. No problem, right?


In the mean time, let’s see what’s been going on with my ROW* since last check in: Continue reading “Every ROWse Has its Thorns”