Posts Tagged With: writing routine

Why the Advice You Hate the Most is Right

May I confess something to you?

No? Well, I’m going to anyway.

Because it’s my blog.

And, also, I don’t have anything else to write about today.

I’m a pantser by nature. I hate schedules. I frequently have no idea what I’m going to fix for dinner before lunch and usually have no idea what my weekend plans are going to be until it’s actually the weekend. I fly by the seat of my pants.

And it works.

Sort of.

There’s a lot to be said for spontaneity. But it often is the enemy of actually getting stuff done. Sure, we might spontaneously decide to do the laundry backlog, start exercising, finish a novel…someday. But something that needs our attention right now is bound to come up, most especially when we’ve spontaneously started a project.

And some things, when left up to spontaneity, get pushed to the bottom of the list almost every time.

Like laundry–who needs to wash socks when you can wear flip-flops?

And novels. Especially novels.

Life’s distractions breed like tribbles the moment you start a novel (the way goodies multiply when you start a fitness plan). And they only pick up steam as you go along.

The solution, of course, is to make time. Set goals and tell people about them. Come up with at least a rudimentary schedule and stick to it. Come up with a system for accountability.

I know this. How well I know this. I’ve had success with this before in both NaNo and ROW80.

And yet, I struggle nonetheless.

Call it a defect of character, a lack of priorities, a distractible mind, or project ADD. Call it fear: fear of failure, fear of success, fear of dust bunnies. Call it procrastination (which itself is probably the nasty afterbirth of fear).

Whatever you call the thing, the end result is the same.

The novel left up to chance to write will not get written.

This is why NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, for those who haven’t had the pleasure of being introduced) is so great. You join NaNo, set a goal for 50,000 words for by the end of November, tell the world about it, avail yourself of the NaNo community and write like hell for a month.

This last November, I decided to make NaNoWriMo my spring-board for finishing my work-in-progress. I’d plotted and written part of a previous version of this novel, only to discover the story had mortal wounds. Once I recovered from that unpleasant discovery, I took the opportunity to plot a better story using most of the characters, premise and concept of the previous story. I’d mostly finished when NaNo rolled around.

Perfect timing. A chance to get a solid start (50K words should be half or more of the novel) and form good writing habits. Forcing myself to plan for daily word counts. A deadline hanging over my head. Community support. The thrill of victory should I complete the challenge. What could be better?

And it worked. I won NaNo and formed a habit for writing daily. In fact, daily writing became easier and much more pleasant. I looked forward to the blank page instead of dreading it.

Once I finished NaNo, I imagined I wouldn’t actually have to worry about setting word count goals. I’d have so much momentum built up from NaNo, I’d just keep writing…

Spontaneously.

Go ahead. Laugh now. I’ve earned it.

It didn’t take long for the lack of specific daily goals, deadlines and a system of accountability to show its rotten fruit. My productivity dropped off and I began dragging my feet when it came time to write. Distractions popped up with greater number and increased power. And much of the writing I did do felt off, forced and more than crappy-first-draft crappy.

I hate when they (the ones who talk about goal setting, scheduling, yada yada yada) are right. But I can’t deny they are.

So here I am, back on the wagon, however reluctantly. I’m shooting for 1K words daily and at least 4K words a week (allowing for days off so I don’t go NaNo nuts…those of you who’ve been there know what I’m talking about). I aim to have the first draft complete by February 28.

There and, now that I’ve told you all, I really can’t weasel out of it.

Crap.

But I’ll thank myself when my novel is done. Finally.

I’m finding a few things helpful as I go along.

I use Scrivener (an all-in-one writing software program for writers) and I love having the Project Goals feature visible as I write so I can see my progress.

I have the WriteChain app (an awesome, simple app that allows you to choose your word count and writing day goals and gives you a link for each day you meet your goal) on my phone and I absolutely, positively refuse to break the chain. I’ve got 80 links so far, which includes NaNaWriMo and I stretched the coast days during the holidays.

diyMFA has excellent advice on setting and testing goals for writing (which could apply to any goal). I’m collecting data now for my own iteration process.

And Derek Hawkins has a great suggestion on his blog for keeping yourself motivated (*hint* it can involve chocolate).

How do you keep yourself on track with a big writing (or other) project? What tools and tricks work for you?

Categories: Tuesday Toss-Up | Tags: , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Novel Wishes and NaNoWriMo Dreams

Baby Stepping Through NaNoWriMo

Upside-down yawn

NaNo’s over. Time to Party!

National Novel Writing Month is over for 2012.

Whether you rocketed past the finish line or were miles away, you wrote words that didn’t exist before November 1.

Even if you never got past the first sentence, you made something happen. Seriously. Pat yourself on the back.

Celebrating even a tiny success can motivate you to succeed further.

I’m a huge believer in baby steps. Some people get jazzed by lofty goals. The mere idea makes me want to puke in my mouth a little. Continue reading

Categories: Tuesday Toss-Up | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Are You Stuck in the Squishy Middle?

How to Get Over the Halfway Mark Hump in NaNoWriMo
(or any big writing project)

Middles.

Sometimes they’re a cause for celebration. As in: “Yeehaw! We’re halfway through!” Or: “Whew! Thank goodness that’s half over already.”

Other times, they just suck. As in: “Oh man, I’ve come all this way and I still have so far to go.” *cue self-pity montage music*

I suppose it probably depends on whether you’re glass-half-full kinda folk or if you’re stuck in that middle.

We’re heading towards the halfway mark of NaNoWriMo. Some of you may just be picking up steam after a long, slow start. For others, the creative high of the first half of NaNo may be wearing off, leaving them stuck in that mushy, soggy, squishy middle.

Me, I’m aiming for denial. Continue reading

Categories: Tuesday Toss-Up | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Night of the Living ROW

Final ROW80 Check in for Round 2, 2012

cat yawning

Having reached the end of another ROW80, Mortimer decides to take a well-deserved nap.

We’ve reached the end of another round of ROW80. This round, I haven’t been as attentive as I would have liked. Of course, lots of life intervened. But all we can do is all we can do.

My plans for this round:

  • Update ROW80 page, for last round and this one: I updated the page at the beginning of the round but it needs another update.
  • Spend 15-30 minutes minimum 4 days a week on new novella. I’m working on expanding Postcards from Hell and its sequel, Ants in the Mailbox into a novella. My MIP is on hold for now: For the last month, I’ve tried to catch up with work projects and a big move. I put a hold on writing work until I get settled. Continue reading
Categories: ROW80 Check Ins | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

What Do We Do When We Miss the Mark?

Sherry Isaac is over at the Life List Club talking about what happens when we miss our goals. Head on over and check it out!

1999. The year the artist formerly known as Prince asked that we party like.

That summer, chauffeur to soccer games, school dances and babysitting jobs, a familiar beat reverberated in this mother’s minivan. ‘Steal My Sunshine’, a one-hit wonder released by Toronto-based band, Len.

Click here to read more.

Also be sure to check out Jess Witkins’s post on fast drafting and Lara Schiffbauer’s post on not wasting energy on negativity (I know I need to be reminded of that over and over again).

Stay tuned. The Life List Club Milestone Party is coming up in two weeks! And it’s gonna be a whopper because the Life List Club is turning one year old.

Categories: Life List Club | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hi-ROW, Hi-ROW, It’s Off to Work We Go

ROW80 Check In 5/2/12

Lemur BoxingThese last two weeks have been pretty decent. I felt a little lost when I didn’t check in last week but I think I’ll adjust to an every other week check in quickly. In fact, I think the longer-term planning will help me both relax and up my productivity.

Where I’ve been since last check-in:

  • Update ROW80 page: Yep.
  • Open Scrivener file for Postcards (working title) novella and layout storyboard: *ahem* Not yet. But I have written tons of notes and outline points longhand. Continue reading
Categories: ROW80 Check Ins | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

The ROWpocalypse is Nigh

ROW80 Check In 4/18/12

At long last, I’m jumping into ROW80 Round 2. I had planned to jump in at the start and have my ROW80 page all updated. Well…the best laid plans of mice and writers and all that.

Buuuut, none of that matters.

That’s the beauty of ROW80.

Squint at theeTremble in fear, mighty ROW, for I have come to conquer thee.

Without further delay, here are my plans for this round:

  • Update ROW80 page, for last round *blush* and this one.
  • Spend 15-30 minutes minimum 4 days a week on new novella. I’m working on expanding Postcards from Hell and its sequel, Ants in the Mailbox into a novella. My MIP is on hold for now.
  • Maintain blogging schedule. Try to have all posts schedule by the night before the posting day at the latest. All posts should go out by 4:30am CA time.
  • Visit Twitter 1-2 times daily
  • Visit Facebook at least 6 times/week
  • Continue to take Sundays off with the family
  • Read at least 2 fiction novels per month.
  • Exercise 3 days per week.
  • Reorganize Blog Menu in light of the changes to blogging schedule.
  • Revamp post tags.

Where I’m headed this week:

  • Update ROW80 page.
  • Open Scrivener file for Postcards (working title) novella and layout storyboard.
  • Keep up social media goals.
  • Start Suzanne Collins’s Mockingjay.

This is gonna be a great round, fellow ROWers. Can you feel it?

Get out your digital pom-poms and rah-rah some more ROW folk here.

What’s on your list for this round of ROW80? If you’re not a ROWer yet, what goals will you be working on for the next month or two? How’s all the goal-getting going so far?

Image Attribution (In Order of Appearance):
Squint at thee by Tomi Tapio, on Flickr CC BY 2.0

Categories: ROW80 Check Ins | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

The Milestones are Partying Again

Put on your party hats, it’s time for another Life List Club Milestone Party!

Our old friend Larry the bartender is here again.

 Canon 550d - Snail on Fork

He’s always here. It’s almost sad really. The guy’s workaholic. But at least he enjoys his job. And this time he’s offered to be the chef too. Continue reading

Categories: Life List Club | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 29 Comments

Making the ROWnds

ROW80 Check In for 10/26/11

I’m feeling good about last week. Still didn’t nail every goal but I was successful overall. The shorter blogging schedule is really working for me and I’ve fallen in love with my MIP again. Suddenly, I want to sneak off at every opportunity and dive into my story.

Here’s where I’ve been:

  • Work on MIP tasks 4 days/week: Figures that when I cut back on my goal days, I’d end up doing more. I did a whopping 6 days this week. And I downloaded my free Scrivener trial 2 days ago…that’s really perking up my writing. Woohoo!
  • Exercise for a minimum 5-10 minutes at a time, 5 days/week: Still hitting 4 days/week. Perhaps that’s what really fits into my rhythm and I should focus on building up the length of each workout and not trying to hit all 5 days first. Continue reading
Categories: ROW80 Check Ins | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

And the Writer Said, Let there be Blogs (and a ROW80 Check-In)

blog fatigue: (blawg fuhteeg) noun

  1.  the condition of being overwhelmed by one’s blog and/or the number of blogs to read, often characterized by an avoidance of blogging related activities and a loss of the pleasure previously associated with those activities

Ill-GottenLast week, we discussed whether or not an epidemic blog fatigue was on the horizon. The consensus seemed to be that the risk of blog fatigue has indeed sky-rocketed but it doesn’t have to take any of us down.

Blogging and social media gives writers the opportunity to connect with a vast number of other writers, to see Continue reading

Categories: ROW80 Check Ins, Tuesday Toss-Up | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 27 Comments

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