Are you participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) this November?

It's a fun time full of writerly companionship, and if you're on the fence I hope I can convince you to jump on in.  I thought I'd share part of a post (with a link to the rest) I wrote for Willamette Writers this summer to help persuade you.

Have you tried NaNoWriMo? You should—it’s a great way to get your words flowing and get your stories out on the page.

Admittedly I’m biased in favor of NaNo. I’ve been signing up for it since 2003 and actively participating since 2006 (turns out you actually have to write something to get to 50K). I’ve taken part as a writer (and a winner seven times). I’ve been the Portland, OR municipal liaison. I’ve attended and hosted local write-ins and events and participated in the online forums. But most importantly, I have written. I have written in November even in years when writing was a struggle. NaNo did that for me.

(Read the rest of the post here.)

I really do love NaNo.  I'm hoping to participate this year even in the middle of a house renovation and move (which may be completely crazy, but I'm still thinking about it).  I hope you'll give it a try and give your writing a jolt of NaNo energy.

Drop me a line, let me know if you're jumping in, let me know how it's going.  I'll cheer you on and see you at the finish!





I'm finding myself really needing to get my body moving.  After years--YEARS, for crying out loud!--of inactivity brought on by some injuries, some medical issues, and a lot of laziness I am so very out of shape.  I can't do a lot of things I want to do--hiking, walking on the beach, going on photo walks--because of how out of shape I am.

Of course I've started multiple programs of my own devising (and sometimes someone else's) in the seven-ish years this has been going on.  But for one reason or another I keep falling off the plan.  Now, time to start again.  This time, though, I'm going to try to gather a group of like-minded people around me so we can do this together.

I talk about the Kaizen-Muse™ Small Steps around here all the time (you may have noticed).  I'm going to put them to use for my health and fitness. Starting Monday, March 16, 2015 I'm going to do a 100 day challenge of just 5 minutes of movement every day.  I'm going to make a small list of possible movement options below, but any kind of movement will do.

I'll be tweeting about this with the hashtag #Move5Min.  I'm also going to start a Facebook group called Body Pages so we can chat and encourage each other, and after this 100 days we can decide on what other challenges we might want to give ourselves.  I might also do a weekly blog post where we can post links to our own blogging if it seems like there's interest in that.  Leave me a note and let me know if you'd like that option.

So who's in?  Leave a note here, tweet with our new hashtag, join in the fun!  I can't wait to see what 100 days of Small Steps will do.

Some Movement Options:

  • Belly dance
  • Dancing around the kitchen
  • Weight lifting
  • Toning exercises
  • Ballet barre exercises
  • Yoga
  • Walking

What movement might you want to do?



I'm taking another session of Book of Days with Effy Wild.  I really love the weekly themes and framework to build my own work on.  This week, the first in the new session, we talked about manifestos.  Here's what I did:

Manifesto 1

It says:

I am here

To live my dreams
To breathe creativity
To live out loud
To be improbable and beautiful and wild
To leave something of myself behind
To pay attention
To be interested and curious and astonished
To shine my light into the darkness

I really like this.  I think I'm going to make it into a stand-alone painting to hang in my studio.  I also think that I'm going back into this one to fix up the smeared writing on "astonished."  I argued with myself a bit on that, trying to tell myself that mistakes are fine (they are!) and to leave it alone.  But just because making mistakes is fine and helps you learn doesn't mean you should never go back and fix them.  Sometimes the lesson is that if you had done such-and-such a little differently you would have gotten closer to the result you wanted.  And there's nothing wrong with trying that out.  So I will be doing some repair work on the writing to give myself a journal spread I like better.

What about you?  Do you go back and fix mistakes in your work or do you let them go?  Or does it depend on the circumstances?

Keep an eye on the blog later this week--I have a crazy new project I'm getting started and a very cool coaching circle that's going to need some beta testers.  See you in a few days to tell you all about it!



The end for now, at least.  This is the last ROW80 check-in for this round and this year.  Time to wrap this one up and turn to plans for Round 1 of 2014.


I feel like I didn't get much done this round, even though I participated in NaNoWriMo and wrote 50,000 words in November.  I had too much going on--running some events, acting as a municipal liaison for NaNo, traveling, holidays.  I have been hurried and harried and not very productive this round.  I just looked at my goals list for this round before I started this post, and I haven't reached any of the goals I set.  I knew that I was floundering, but this really brings home how much this has been true since September.

So what's the lesson here?  I feel like there is one, and I feel like I'm starting to get a glimpse of it.  One thing I've learned--just because something is within my capabilities doesn't mean I should take it on.  This is aimed at the events (including local NaNo stuff) that I did this year.  None of it was stuff for me. It was all stuff that I helped out with (or ran for the most part) because I could and I knew someone needed to.

I wonder how many of us get wrapped up in things that aren't our own ideas or projects because it needs to be done?  I know for me it takes a lot away from my creative life, and I wonder if it's the same for others.

Anyhow, I am looking forward to a year where I have explicitly already told people that I am not running any of these events.  I am giving myself a lot more space in 2014 to see what I can do.

I will be doing my ROW80 updates on my writing blog next year (I'll share the links here, too, but not the whole posts).  I'm planning some more focused creativity posts and coaching posts here, and I don't want them to get lost in my chatter about my writing journey.  That's the only goal or change I already know I'm going to make.  Lots to think about before January 6 when the next round begins.

How was your round if you're a ROWer, or your Autumn if you're a creative of another sort?  Did holidays sidetrack you? Do you have ideas for what you'd like to add in or change or do differently?

In case I don't post in the next few days, Happy New Year!  See you in 2014.



I feel the holiday rush finally winding down even though there are still a couple of days left until Christmas.  I have a bit of cooking to do, but all presents are bought and wrapped, all the food is bought and early prep has started.  It's not Christmas yet, but my thoughts are turning to the very end of the year and plans for the fresh beginnings a new year always brings.

Night Sky

This is nearly the last ROW80 check-in, too, and I am already looking at how things have gone this round and this year.  I feel that too many other things butted into my life this round, and I didn't accomplish many of my goals.  I also didn't do the greatest job keeping up with my sponsor duties.  So I have a lot to contemplate and some adjustments to make to how I do things, I think.  It's too easy to get knocked off track.

This time of year is great for that kind of introspection, though.  The long, quiet nights are perfect for self-examination, quiet contemplation, solitary work.  I am really looking forward to the next couple of months with no deadlines, no events to run or even attend, no one expecting big things from me.  I'm looking forward to some time with myself to figure out what I really want to do with my writing, my coaching, my everything.

I'll be back Wednesday or Thursday (the official end date of the round) with more details. For now, I'm just enjoying the quiet times that are beginning now.  I hope your nights are silent and peaceful, too.



I am returned from my travels worn out and unfocused, but very happy to be home.   My mind is a restless swirl of things I want to do, but I can't seem to get the energy together to make any of it happen yet.  Maybe tomorrow when I'm not still jet-lagged.

I spent most of the day shopping, buying loads of food because in the last ten days before leaving we were trying to empty the fridge, so we came back to no food (but also to no nasty, old food experiments so our plan was successful).  It's amazing how much before and after work traveling requires.

Besides requiring a lot of planning and prep, traveling poses some creative challenges for me.  My biggest travel challenge used to be figuring out how many books I needed to carry with me to be sure I didn't run out of reading material.  Happily, my Kindle has done away with that problem for the most part, although I still spend a fair amount of pre-trip time figuring out what books I want to read.  But at least I don't have to pack extra books just to be safe and lug around all that weight.

I still run into difficulties trying to figure out what entertainments and creative projects to take with me on a trip, though, and so far I haven't found a Kindle-esque answer to what to pack.  Knowing that I have a tendency to over-pack and then not use most of what I take with me, I really pared it down this time.  I took my tablet with keyboard (except the keyboard stopped working so I didn't do any writing on it at all); my journal;  my story notebook; my crit group readings; and one knitting project.  And it wasn't enough.  I ended up buying a Dover Creative Haven coloring book and some colored pencils, because it turns out that I need some sort of visual creative play regularly.  This is good to know, I think, and should help me pack better next time I travel, so I don't mind buying some new supplies.

What do you absolutely have to have with you when you travel?  What creative or writing supplies have to travel by your side?  Do you have any good tips on packing your creative stuff when you're on the go?

In case you think I forgot, here's a little ROW80 check-in.  I really don't have anything to report.  Being away from home and then having my keyboard on my tablet stop working on my first day of vacation threw me off, and I haven't done any of what I planned for the past week.  And that would seem to be the extent of my check-in.

For the coming week?  I'm going to be sensible and remember that I have Christmas prep to do.  But I intend to catch up on my crit readings, spend at least one hour working on my outline, and write at least 1,500 words of my story.

What's on your schedule for the coming week?






This has been a bit of a slow week. I've been preparing to travel then actually traveling, so I haven't had much time for anything else. This will be a light ROW80 check-in, but there's been some progress at least.


I'm still reading through Rock Your Plot.  Even though I'm still reading and haven't done any of the assignments yet, I had a pretty major plot breakthrough, so I'm feeling quite excited.  I still have this huge, gaping hole where the midpoint should be, though.  I'm hoping something stirs up and helps me fill that in soon.

I am not sure if I'll get to a check-in on Wednesday. Holiday season and traveling take their toll. But I hope I'll have progress to report next time.

What do you do to fit in writing and creative work during this time of year?



I am feeling the turning of the seasons and the year, the turning of the wheel, the turning of time.  I am feeling it very heavily right now, and I feel like this is a time for changes.  I just don't quite know what all of those changes are yet.

Photo by siewlian
Photo by siewlian

I have been going slowly this week, unwinding from a couple of months of too many committments and not enough downtime.  I'm getting ready to travel to see family, so I'm trying to get some energy built up for that, too.  None of the changes I'm contemplating will happen until after the beginning of next year, anyhow, so I can let myself take my time.  I have to remind myself that I don't need to rush.

Meanwhile, I have been making progress on my revised ROW80 goals.  I made an abrupt change in my outlining plans when fellow ROW80-er Shan Jeniah Burton commented on using Rock Your Plot by Cathy Yardley to plan her NaNo novel.

I have been enjoying the other craft books I've been browsing through and intend to return to them, but this one...this one grabbed me and pulled me right in.  It's set up just for me!  There are specific assignments very noticeably marked to help me slow down and focus on just the task at hand, and that seems to be a huge part of why this book is feeling so good for me.  So I am continuing my plan to create an outline for my novel, but I'm changing the way I'm doing it (and it feels good, which is so very important!)

I got back to checking in on my ROW80 team's blogs, and that was lovely, seeing what everyone's up to and not feeling rushed while reading and commenting.  More of that laid-back stuff, please!  I have decided that I'm not going to volunteer as a sponsor for the first round of 2014, though.

I am making a real effort to see what my creative process looks like with as few outside restrictions and schedules imposed on it as I can manage.  Knowing how you really work, what really feels right for you, is important for your creative life.  If you haven't checked in on that lately, try to give yourself some time to see what really works for you (and make sure it's still the same--don't just assume that if you've done this in the past everything is still the same).

For the coming week, it's going to be more of the same.  Working on my outline, checking in on blogs, figuring out what's right for me.  I hope to get to check in on Sunday, but since I'll be traveling I can't promise.  But I'll be back soon.

What are you planning for these early days of December?






December 1.  NaNoWriMo 2013 is behind me.  I am so relieved!  This year, I really felt constrained by the need to start something new on November 1 and then by the need to write quickly, not stopping when I really needed to work out some details.  I won, but the event felt much more like a chore than an adventure this time around.   I am looking forward to working on my novel on my own schedule, with my own rhythm, in a way that will make it a better piece of writing even in its roughest form.

Barb Wires

Today is also the start of the last month of Round 4 of ROW80.  I'm feeling excited about the possibilities opening up for my writing life right now, but I'm vacillating between excitement and worry that I won't be able to figure out how to make it work.

Here's my revised goals list for December:

  • Complete an outline for Inheritance using K.M. Weiland's Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success
  • Create a scene list of what I've already written so I can figure out where the biggest gaps are
  • Create a writing schedule for finishing the first draft

December is going to be busy--traveling to visit family, holiday parties and dinners--so I think this is enough.  If I have time, I'm also going to read Structuring Your Novel: Essential Keys for Writing an Outstanding Story, also by K.M. Weiland.

I'm also going to get back on track with checking in with my ROW80 team because I fell behind during NaNo, and I'm going to get in at least a little bit of art journaling when I can.

What about you?  What will you do in December to keep connected to your creative work?



It's my final ROW80 check-in for NaNoWriMo 2013.  Kait asked us to share what we're thankful for in our writing lives.  I am thankful that NaNo is almost over!

Thanksgiving Dinner

There are other things, of course, but that's the big one.  Too much going on this year, and NaNo has been tough!  But I'm going to hit 50K on Friday, and I'm thankful that I was able to get things together enough to make that happen.

I'm also thankful that every time I do NaNo I find out a little bit more about my own writing process.  I think over the past two years the combination of ROW80 and NaNo has brought me to a place where I am starting to believe I can figure out how to finish a novel.  And that's huge for me.  HUGE.

I'm thankful for finding a great critique group that expects to see pages from me every other Wednesday.  I'm still stumbling a bit, trying to get a rhythm in my writing life, but having people waiting to see something from me is an excellent motivator.

So that check-in... I am standing at 43,414 words right now.  I was behind for most of November, but I caught up yesterday.  I haven't written today, but I will.  I intend to hit my 50K on Friday, a day early, so I can have the day off Saturday to lounge around and get ready for a holiday party that evening.  And then on Sunday I will be posting revamped goals for the rest of this round and also for the completion of my novel.  Overall, a pretty good check-in today, I think.

Now if someone would just finish those sweet potatoes, bake my pumpkin bars for me, and fill in these gaping plot holes, I'd be golden!  Happy Thanksgiving!