Do you ever find yourself longing for you're-not-sure-what?  Wishing you were somewhere else?  Yearning for something special, out of the ordinary, different?

I used to have that happen fairly often, especially if life was hectic and stressful--something that can happen this time of year a little too much.  (Like last week on Thanksgiving when I got so tied up in the holiday I forgot to pop over here and do a 10 Minute Muse post!)

This week, our question is: Do we really need to be somewhere else?  What can we do right now, right where we are to see the beautiful, special things we want in our lives?  There's your 10 Minute Muse challenge for this week--right where you are now, look around and find something a little bit special, magical, something that makes you smile (it's perfectly acceptable to go outside and walk around for this--you don't have to stay glued to your chair, you just have to be in your normal places and spaces).

A silly, cute little dancing flower that makes me smile every time I look at it and makes me take note of when the sun is shining and sparkling through my window.

You can get the details on 10 Minute Muse here. There really are no rules. Just let the prompt settle into your mind, see what pops up, create something from what the prompt stirs in you. It doesn’t have to “make sense” to anyone, not even to you. If the prompt is about daffodils and it makes you think of polar bears, go with it! Have fun, relax, play.

Enjoy your creating, and when you’re done share it with us below or in the comments. (Note: the link tool will remain open until Monday 12 p.m. PST.)



It's time for another ROW80 check-in--the last one during NaNoWriMo 2012 and nearing the last of this round.  It's also the last check-in of November.  And it's leading me into December and some final goals to wrap up this year before the next one starts.  It's a revolving door kind of time!

Photo by ElvisFan76

Even though December is the end of the year and the end of Round 4 and generally considered not the time for starting something new, I'm going to try something new!  I have an idea of how to help myself stay in touch with the things I really want to do, and I want to start now.

The first part of the plan involves these check-ins.  The last check-in of each month is going to be for setting goals for the coming month (I also intend to do weekly mini goals to help with achieving the monthly goals, but I don't know if I'll post those or not--maybe on Sundays).  The first check-in of each month will be for an assessment of how the previous month worked for me.  So there will be frequent check-ins, goal setting, assessment, and goal tweaking instead of just doing goals at the beginning of each round.  I think keeping my focus on what I want to do will help me actually do it.  We'll see how that goes.

December goals:

  • Write 8,000 new words of fiction (keeping it low due to holidays and other busy-ness)
  • Create/finish a chronological story list for the first set of Division Zero stories. (I think 10 stories would be a good length.)
  • Write synopses for as many of the stories as I can finish (at least three so I have something solid to work from)
  • Finish naming my characters and create files for each of them so I can begin character studies

This seems like a good list for a month like December.  Most months my fiction writing goal will be 20,000 words, but I know in December I have lots of social events, and I'll be coming down from the NaNoWriMo high, so going very low with my new words goal seems sensible.

That's my plan for December.  For these last three days of November, the plan is to write, write, write!  I am nearly at my 50,000 words but am still trailing behind the requisite daily word count, so I need to do some bit writing pushes now through Friday to get my pretty little winner's badge.

See you on the other side!



I'm feeling really tired today and thought about skipping my ROW80 check-in, especially because I still need words for NaNoWriMo this evening.  But then I remembered that ROW80 is one of the things that keeps me connected to my writer self.  It's an important link in my creativity chain, and I want to keep it alive and active.  So I'm checking in even though I'm tired enough that I'm not sure I have anything to say.

When I'm tired, I end up on autopilot.  I do what it seems like I'm supposed to do--cook, wash dishes, go to work.  But when I'm in one of these physically exhausted place, the things that can help me bring some energy back--writing, knitting, painting, journaling--can fall by the wayside.  So it's really important for me to make sure that these check-ins, these connections with my writing community, are part of my routine and fit into the "things I'm supposed to do" category.

As for the writing, I'm enjoying my stories and my characters a lot and am looking forward to wandering around this little world I'm building.  So things are good even if I'm very tired right now.

Thank you so much, all my ROW80 friends, for being part of my writing life!




No storm, just calm.  I gave up the holiday crazies several years ago--stopped flying, stopped buying massive amounts of gifts, stopped trying to make ten different kinds of cookies...I chose to do things that feel good to celebrate, and as much as possible I have pulled my family along with me, and I like it.

And since I'm not getting crazy over the holidays, I still have time for writing and a ROW80 check-in (although I did miss checking in on Sunday because I was off buying organizational kitchen thingies, but they're so useful!).

I am still lagging behind on NaNoWriMo, but I am still writing regularly so I just can't feel bad about the word count.  I am loving the ideas spilling out for my short story collection, so I feel like I'm winning.

I'm allowing myself to write bits and pieces of the various stories instead of pushing to finish one before I move on to the next.  This way I'm making sure to capture the ideas and images and dialogue as they crop up.  It's a different way of working for me, and part of me is a little bit nervous about how I'm going to pull all of this together.  But mostly I'm really enjoying capturing all of the exciting things right when they pop into my mind, so I tell myself to not worry about putting it in order until it's actually time to be working on that.  And so far that's going all right.

That's my very brief check-in for now.  If you're in the U.S. and celebrating, Happy Thanksgiving!  I'll see you back here on Sunday.



We're coming up on holiday season.  If you're in the United States, things kick off next week with Thanksgiving.

I love the holiday decorations, the twinkling lights, time with family, special foods we eat only once a year.  But like many of you, I also associate the holidays with a lot of frenetic activity and stress, and sometimes these feelings can make us dislike the holidays.

But what if you could have exactly the holidays you want without the stress and frenzy?  What would your wishlist for the perfect holiday be? (You can create an actual list or an image of the perfect holiday or write a poem or song or story about the perfect holiday...this is for you, so make it what you like!)

You can get the details on 10 Minute Muse here. There really are no rules. Just let the prompt settle into your mind, see what pops up, create something from what the prompt stirs in you. It doesn’t have to “make sense” to anyone, not even to you. If the prompt is about daffodils and it makes you think of polar bears, go with it! Have fun, relax, play.

Enjoy your creating, and when you’re done share it with us below or in the comments. (Note: the link tool will remain open until Monday 12 p.m. PST.)



ROW80 time again?  I guess it is.

As I may have mentioned once or a thousand times, I'm doing NaNoWriMo during this round.  I've done it before, I'll probably do it again.  But this time I am having quite a different experience.

I'm getting writing done.  NaNo is always good for that, and it always helps me kickstart my haphazard writing habits.  But this year I seems to be giving me a real feel for my writing process.  I am getting so many insights and so much information about what feels right and works for me.

In the past few days, I've been doing some pretty hefty writing sessions netting me a little over 2,500 words a day.  This is good, and I need the words, and I need to get my story flowing.  But the focus on writing a lot of words at one time multiple days in a row has led me to realize that for me a good writing process is going to involve more than just writing.

These are the things I believe need to be in my normal (you know, non-NaNo) writing life:

  • A weekly and monthly word count goal
  • Writing on the story a few days a week
  • A few minutes of planning time before each writing session
  • Regular work from prompts and exercises and writing books and other craft-building activities (maybe two days a week? I'll have to figure out a good schedule for this)
  • Journal writing at least two or three days a week to keep my head clear and emotions on an even keel
  • A once-a-week in depth planning session to see where my story is, what it needs, etc.

Community is really important, too, and I have that with the ROW80 crowd, but I think I'd like to find a couple of other writers who are interested in doing things like setting intentions before our writing sessions, talking about the specific writing we're working on, and generally having a more personal connection.

I also think I'd like to participate in some writing workshops again.  I haven't done that in years, and I really feel that it does help boost my craft and also lets me connect with other writers.  I'm not sure about how often I want to do this, but I'm thinking at least twice a year.

Reading through this, it looks like a writing life to me.  And it looks like things that I can have in my life without having to give up the rest of my life.  I feel like I'm seeing my path, and I'm looking forward to seeing how this works with my non-NaNo writing.

For now, though, it's still NaNo time, so I'm back to he word mines until next time.


A belated ROW80 check-in.  I was out of commission yesterday because my back was out, and I couldn't sit in anything like a comfortable position for typing.  Today is a little better, and I really want to get started with this new plan I've come up with, so I'm going ahead with a check-in even though I'm late.

Last week, as I mentioned in Wednesday's post, I had quite a few realizations about my writing process.  I've still been actively working on figuring out what helps me smooth the path to regular writing.  One of the things I've figured out since last week is that part of why I do so well with NaNoWriMo is that there are specific daily and weekly word count goals in addition to the overall goal.

This seems like something I can work with throughout the year.  At some point, when I'm doing revisions on something, my daily word count goals may be very low.  At other points, like now when I'm behind in NaNo and have decided that I want to catch up, it may be very high.  Most of the time, I think I'll be aiming for 5,000 words of new fiction writing weekly.  That's 1,000 words five days a week which is very do-able.

Meanwhile, as I mentioned, I have decided to get myself going and push for making 50K by the end of this month even though I'm really far behind.  So, this week's goal: 18,000 words.  I'm going to make this my focus, so I'm not setting any other goals for the week.  See you next check-in!



"November always seemed to me the Norway of the year." ~Emily Dickinson

What about for you?  What does November seem like to you? Is it Norway?  The new black?  What comes to mind when you read this quote?


You can get the details on 10 Minute Muse here. There really are no rules. Just let the prompt settle into your mind, see what pops up, create something from what the prompt stirs in you. It doesn’t have to “make sense” to anyone, not even to you. If the prompt is about daffodils and it makes you think of polar bears, go with it! Have fun, relax, play.

Enjoy your creating, and when you’re done share it with us below or in the comments. (Note: the link tool will remain open until Monday 12 p.m. PST.)



ROW80, NaNoWriMo, writing, and attitude.  They're all getting into the spotlight this week.

I'm not writing this week.  Or not as much as I meant to.  And I'm feeling oddly calm and good about it and generally confident. Because my not-writing has been happening in conjunction with a lot of self-examination and several really useful realizations.  I may not have gotten in many words this week, but I've gotten some great insight into my own process and how to work with what works for me.

What I've discovered:

  • Too organized is as bad as not organized enough. The tidy, Scrivener-type programs (I've been trying out Scriptito because it's web-based)  hang up my writing because I get anxious about things being in the "right" place.  I do best if I write at least some notes and possibly a few paragraphs by hand in my journal or maybe just in Word or some other word processor.
  • I need to have some sort of idea of what's going to happen in the end or else I really wander aimlessly, lose track of what's going on, and quit writing because I don't have a solid feel for the story.
  • A daily, publicly stated goal helps me a lot.
  • People to talk to daily, other writers, really helps me settle down and get to the writing.
  • I have a hard time concentrating, and I mope and procrastinate a lot more, when I'm sick or in pain (dealing with both this week), so I need to up my self-care efforts so I have fewer of these episodes.

Today, I am writing in my journal, getting some notes together and gearing up for a nice, long writing session this evening when I am home and more comfortable.  I am doing short sessions of yoga stretches to help the pain in my back, and I am drinking lots of water to help my sinuses clear up.

As for NaNoWriMo, still not worried.  I am several days behind, but I still need fewer than 2,000 words a day to hit 50K on the 30th.  I will do it, and then I will continue the things that feel really good and useful and as if they will help me toward my real goal of being a consistent writer who finishes stories and submits them.

The main lesson learned here, one I hope will help some of you out there as well, is this: just because lots of people do a certain thing, follow a certain path, do things a certain way doesn't mean that's the way for you.  And if you try something, even something that seems like is should be wonderful and helpful and fabulous, if you find yourself resisting it, struggling with it, feeling uncomfortable, especially after a few days to get over the "new-thing jitters," you may need to try something else, something that's more you.  And that doesn't mean you failed, that there's anything wrong with you or the routine or method you were trying out.  It just means that the method didn't fit you.  Time to try on something new, the same way you have to try on fifteen (or more!) pairs of jeans before you find the ones for you.  No failure, just not the right fit.  Keep looking.  You'll find what you need as long as you don't give up.




My first ROW80 check-in during NaNoWriMo 2012.  I kind of wanted to have a really big word count and lots of success to report.  But that's not usually how I do NaNo.

I traditionally start very slowly, easing my way in on the first three days.  Then my momentum picks up and I start cruising through the word count.  This year looks like it's going to play out the same way, and that's fine.  It's how I do things, and there's not really a good reason to try to change it since it works.  I just wanted the "ooh what a word count" accolades, I guess.

I'm noticing something this year.  It's actually been going on the past couple of years.  I don't seem to have any of the "can I do it?" jitters any more.  I guess I've proved to myself enough times that I can indeed write 50,000 words in 30 days.  Usually fewer than 30 days.

This brings me to what I want to focus on post-NaNo.  Consistency.  This has always been a huge problem for me.  I can write.  I've proven that to myself over and over.  I can put words together, write large amounts.  I can even write quickly, and I've received enough positive feedback since eight grade to know that I have a talent if I'm not letting false anxieties keep me from acknowledging it.

I know I have fears that, even though I'm a good writer in the small ponds I've been writing in my whole life, I won't be good enough to get published, won't be good enough to make a living (or part of a living) from my writing.  I think this is the big fear I've been avoiding, and it's part of what keeps me from writing consistently and doing the steps to attempt publication.  If I don't finish and submit, I can't find out that I'm not that good, right?

So after November my focus is going to be on consistency and on facing my fears of finishing.  I think a monthly word count goal is a good way to go with this, because just spending a certain number of days or amount of time writing lets me wiggle out of actually working on stories.  Not sure exactly how I am going to deal with the fear factor, but I have the training to deal with it so I will figure it out.

Now, I'm off to finally sit down and work on my stories.  See you next check-in!