ROW80 time. It's been a wildly busy week, but the big event I've been working on happened yesterday. It's over, and I am feeling like the way is cleared (mostly) for getting to do the things that are most important to me.  I'm feeling on the verge of a new path, and it's exciting.

Clear Sailing

A couple of writing/life thoughts before I get to my check-in.  I am looking forward to year's end.  I am looking forward to being done with NaNoWriMo.  This will be my last year as a Municipal Liaison--I really need to stop doing things that are other people's "stuff" and focus more on my own.  And doing the ML thing takes a lot of my time.  We needed someone because we were suddenly without an ML four years ago, so I stepped in.  And I stayed because someone needed to do it.  But it's time to wrap that up.

I am also thinking.seriously about whether this will be my last year participating in NaNo at all.  When it gets to be about August I find myself starting to adjust my writing schedule to try to get something new ready for NaNo, and more than once I have ended up seriously sidetracking a work-in-progress because of this.  Now I'm in a writing critique group, and that is making figuring out what to so about a NaNo story even harder to figure out.  I think I may need to just follow my own writing rhythms after this year.  I love the camaraderie, the excitement, the push, but I don't feel like NaNo is furthering my writing life any more.

But that's a decision for after November.  For now, here's a check-in:

Writing Goals

  • Do 10 minutes of writing practice from prompts twice a week--Even with the last-minute craziness that always comes during the week before a big event, I did fit this in, and that felt great.  I think my writing always gets better faster when I'm doing prompts at least a couple of times a week.
  • In non-NaNo weeks, write at least 1,500 words of fiction with a focus on improving my descriptions--I did about 1,200 words, but considering how busy my week was I'm feeling like this is a win.
  • Read at least one page of fiction at least four times a week--I spent a nice long chunk of time on Wednesday reading the next installment of Seanan McGuire's Indexing serial, and I read a few pages of the Ann Rice novel I'm plodding through (The Wolf Gift).  Not bad, and it was enough this week.  I have to make sure to give myself reading time, because I feel better, happier, calmer when I get my fiction reading time, and reading stories leads to better writing.

Coaching Goals

  • Continue participating in coaching circle--I finished my session as a practice coach this past week, and Thursday I'll have my wrap-up as a practice client, and then this goal will be wrapped up until January.
  • Complete at least a sketchy outline for my Body Pages class--Not exactly and outline, but I had an epiphany about what Body Pages is going to look like (it's going to be a blog series), so progress was made on this.

Art/Art Journaling Goals

  • Continue BOD; finish lessons before Christmas--this was the only one of my art goals I had time for this week, but I did do a birthday spread that I really like.

That's everything.  And possibly the best part--it feels like enough.  That's a feeling I don't get very often, so this is really good.  It's good to let what I do be enough (and you should remember that what you do is enough, too).

See you Wednesday!



It's only been two days since setting my ROW80 Round 4 goals, but it's Wednesday and time for a check-in, so here I am.  Actually, I even have things to report.

Round 4 Goals 2

I already upgraded one of my goals.  NaNoWriMo is only in November, so the goal to complete that won't get anything done on it until then (or after November, either).  I'm going to only check-in on goals I've done something on since my last check-in, so you won't be seeing anything on that one today.  I think that's going to make things clearer.  However, if I've been missing working on a goal for a while I plan to mention it and figure out what's getting in the way.

Writing Goals

  • Do 10 minutes of writing practice from prompts twice a week--I've done this twice already.  That's in part because I'm back to participating in Book-in-a-Week (BIW), and this is the October week so I'm working to meet that mini goal.  I'm also using these writing practices as a warm up to get the words flowing for my writing group and for NaNo.
  • Read (and do any exercises) one craft book (I will decide which one and list that Wednesday)--I haven't done any reading yet, but I have almost made a decision about which book I want to read (The True Secret of Writing: Connecting Life with Language by Natalie Goldberg;
    Writing the Wave: Inspired Rides for Aspiring Writers by Elizabeth Ayres; WRITE EVERY DAY: How to Write Faster, and Write More (Rock Your Writing) by Cathy Yardley).
  • In non-NaNo weeks, write at least 1,500 words of fiction with a focus on improving my descriptions--I'm at 1,500 words already today because of my BIW work.  I'm trying not to judge myself about the weeks and months and so on where I haven't done even this much.

Coaching Goals

  • Re-read my Kaizen-Muse™ manual--I'm planning to start this one after October 19.  I am running an event this weekend and teaching a workshop on the 19th, so my schedule is pretty jammed.  This is supposed to be positive stuff, not added stress, so I'm planning accordingly.
  • Continue participating in coaching circle--I've done some e-mailing with my practice partners.  I realized that this round of the circle is wrapping up, and I don't think we're starting another one until after the end of the year, so I may need to remove this goal.

Art/Art Journaling Goals

  • Continue BOD; finish lessons before Christmas--I did a little bit of painting on a spread that I plan to finish in the next couple of days.
  • Create a place to keep my various journals so I can access them easily--I found a good place for my BOD journal but not for the really huge, fat one we made last week in one of the art retreat workshops I was in.  I'll keep working on this.

All in all, not bad for just a couple of days.  I also printed out my goals and glued them to pretty paper that fits inside my calendar so I will see them all the time, and I am starting to write things into my calendar so I have reminders each week.  I am thinking about reorganizing my Google calendar for this so I'll get pop-up reminders which might be useful.

So how's your half week going?



It's time for Round 4 of ROW80.  This is always a very busy round, and a very busy time of year.  I was feeling pretty scattered and unfocused, still not sure as I opened my blog window exactly what my goals were going to be.  Then I read Kait's post to kick off this round.

A result of deliberate practice--I was working on angles and sun flares.
A result of deliberate practice--I was working on angles and sun flares.

She said something that really struck a chord with me: "I’ve grown and learned as a writer because I have practiced my craft with deliberation...In the end, deliberate practice will ultimately outstrip natural aptitude."  I highly recommend that you read her entire post and follow the link she shares for more on deliberate practice.

So the question to ask myself before setting goals for this round:  What do I want to purposefully (deliberately) build, give time and attention to, create? (I know, that's technically a bunch of questions, but you get my point.)  I want to learn more about, give time and attention to, and build my writing skills, my coaching skills and offerings, and my art journaling.  I think I will do this by making three categories for my goals.  And with that decision made, here are my lists:

Writing Goals

  • Do 10 minutes of writing practice from prompts twice a week
  • Do one session of journal writing (at least 20 minutes) once a week
  • Complete NaNoWriMo (November only)
  • Read (and do any exercises) one craft book (I will decide which one and list that Wednesday)
  • In non-NaNo weeks, write at least 1,500 words of fiction with a focus on improving my descriptions
  • Practice novel engaging (at least 20 minutes of planning or 200 words of writing) three times a week
  • Read at least one page of fiction at least four times a week

Coaching Goals

  • Re-read my Kaizen-Muse™ manual
  • Post in the Kaizen-Muse™ forum at least once a week (pick a day, put it on the calendar)
  • Continue participating in coaching circle
  • Complete at least a sketchy outline for my Body Pages class
  • Complete at least a sketchy outline for my Muse Moon class

Art/Art Journaling Goals

  • Finish dowloading all Life Book 2013  lessons
  • Download any other classes I've signed up for that are roaming around out there and organize them into folders
  • Choose which LB 2013 lessons I actually want to do and make a schedule for them (and maybe put those lessons into a separate folder)
  • Continue BOD; finish lessons before Christmas
  • Create a place to keep my various journals so I can access them easily

I think that's plenty.  Some of it requires a little more background planning, especially the NaNo stuff.  I am in the midst of a series of short stories that I am submitting to my writing group for critique.  I'm not sure if I am just going to work on those in November or do a very loose discovery writing draft of something new while slowing down work on my short stories.  Decisions, decisions.

So what are you doing to close out the year?


ROW80 check-in time.  It's been a long, tiring, unproductive week, but that's not a huge surprise since it was the first week post-NaNoWriMo.  I probably should have scheduled in a lot more downtime this week.

 Still, after most of the week with my head quite muddled, today I am feeling the new beginnings stretching out in front of me. I am feeling that small thrill of newness in my stomach, and my mind is brim full of ideas of things that will work better for me, things I can try, things I will do.  I am filled with the excitement of possibility!  I can't wait to find out what happens next.

I did create my story list this week, so it wasn't a completely unproductive week.  Now I know all of my basic topics, and I have at least somewhat of an idea of what order they'll be in.  I need more work on the chronology.

This week I want to finalize the chronology of the stories, write synopses for at least two of them, and do some writing from prompts at least twice.  I'm adding in the prompts because I feel like my writing muscles need a workout.  I think my actual story writing will become smoother if I go back to doing prompts, something I used to do all the time.  Athletes train before big events.  I think this writer needs some training in addition to actual story writing.

That's this week's plan.  Hoping I've shaken the last of the post-NaNo blues and can get back in the swing of things.  See you Wednesday!




NaNoWriMo 2012 is over (I won!). This round of ROW80 is winding down. And my brain is throwing more and more story ideas at me. I love my brain!  And I love these stories! I'm looking forward to giving them more time and attention in a less frantic manner.


Story ideas are swirling like snowflakes!

I want to build the habit of doing daily writing goals.  I was doing that on Twitter during NaNo, and even when no one responded it helped me focus on what I wanted to work on that day.  I am going to try out using Twitter for this during the NaNo off season (otherwise known as the other eleven months of the year) and see how it works out.

This week I plan to add some new words to my stories, but mostly this is going to be an organizational week.  My main focus right now is going to be having a complete story list in chronological order.  I hope to report next Sunday that this is done.

That's really all for now.  I am trying to take care of myself and not overwhelm myself during the holiday season, so I'm going to keep this week's goals short and simple.  Oh!  But I am going to get back to checking in on one or two blogs every day because I miss doing that, so I am going to make the time to make it happen.

See you in the comments!



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.



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!