It's the end of Round 2 of ROW80.  It's been a busy round inside my head, but I'm not sure I have much to report as far as anything to show for my time.

The end

Of course I know it's not true that I don't have anything to show.  I have figured out a lot of things about my own process and about how stress affects my creative work.  And I actually have a pretty decent outline of the major second-half points for my story and a few thousand new words for the story, so there was even some writing going on during all of that contemplation.

Just now, because I wanted to address how I did on the actual goals I set for this round, I went back to my first post of Round 2.  And these are the goals I set:

  • Writing practice –just writing to play with words, describe what I see around me, sink into words on the page, as often as I am able
  • Creative practice–Found Inspirations as many days a week as I feel pulled to it.
  • Movement practice–stretching, dancing, moving in ways that feel good to reconnect with my body and start to overcome the chronic pain I’ve been experiencing, as often as I can

Oh.  I've been doing all of this.  Maybe not as much writing practice as I intended, but I think that's because I've let myself get tangled up in "shoulds."  I really had simple goals set up, and I've been doing them!  And yet I've been pressuring myself and telling myself I'm not getting things done, not meeting my goals.  It just goes to show you that those voices in your head aren't always right or truthful.  Don't believe everything you think.

I'm feeling really good now.   I think I'm going to head home and write!

Meanwhile, while you're browsing around, check out this great guest post that Morgan Dragonwillow shared here on MuseCraft™ this morning: Connecting to My Muse.



Just a quick check-in for ROW80.  With the long weekend, I forgot today is Sunday and almost missed it!

Astronomical Clock Prague

It's been a pretty busy writing time since Wednesday.  I finished the read-through of my WIP, made a few notes for later, and started notes on what needs to happen in the rest of the story.  I think I will have a good plan in place by the time JuNoWriMo starts next weekend.  I'm getting really excited to start!

Today I read through The Busy Writer's One Hour Plot and The Busy Writer's One Hour Character by Marg McAlister.  They are both short and to the point, and they have some really useful questions and exercises. I especially like the plotting book.  The character book has some sections that I'm not finding that useful because I already know who my MC is, but if you're having a hard time picking an MC the early exercises would be useful.

I think doing everything in one hour might be a little gimmicky--I think you can get good results by going through the exercises more slowly if you like.  Having the time limit can get your thoughts flowing, but I don't know that it's necessary.

That's what's going on right now.  Between now and Wednesday, here's my plan:

  • Create an Aristotle's Incline for my story
  • Work through the One Hour Plot exercises
  • Do at least one writing practice from a prompt to get my words primed and flowing

See you at the next check-in.



It's ROW80 check-in time again.  This week I have been continuing my quest for an intuitive practice.  I have also had a sinus headache for days, and it is making my head as floaty as these clouds.


I know, that sounds awful.  And I've been quite out-of-sorts and grumpy and kind of depressed for a few days, too.  But in amongst all of that I've had some interesting, good things going on inside my head.  I've come up with the seeds of some coaching offerings for writers (way too soon to share, though--sorry!).  And I've been drawn back to my first NaNo novel which I did a complete start-over on a couple of years ago.

The novel isn't finished at all, and I've been stalled out for over a year.  And suddenly I can't stop thinking about it, toying with some of what has happened so far, asking questions about what might happen next.  I'm feeling like this is a pretty clear sign that it's time to reconnect with this story.

I'm going to keep my main focus on the writing practice and journaling I've been doing.  I feel that I'm getting a lot out of these, and as I become more regular with them (right now I manage to remember to do it about three times a week) I think my brain will start offering up even more exciting tidbits.  I can't wait to see what I come up with!  But I am going to add "work on Ordinary Girl" into the mix for this round.

I'm not sure how this work is going to look just yet, but I can feel that it's time to get back to this piece.  So far I have never managed to make it all the way to the end of a novel-length work, so I'm not entirely sure what to do.  I think I'm going to do what I'm doing with the writing practice and just do a little bit as often as I remember that I want to do this work.  I'm going to try to stay away from too much planning, because I think I get too hung up on feeling that I have to have a good plan in order to write.  I'm going to go more intuitive with this fiction, too, and see how that goes.  It's like a grand experiment! (Picture me cackling like a mad scientist over my notebooks.)  In this, too, I can't wait to see what I do!



The space between my ears, behind my eyes
The space between my ears, behind my eyes

I don't have a lot to report for this ROW80 check-in.  The time between Wednesday and now has been filled with preparing for our first Swords for Scribes workshop and then teaching the workshop yesterday.  It was a great workshop, and the writers had a lot of fun and got some good words down, too, but all the workshop stuff didn't leave time for much else the past few days.

At the same time, my mind has been wildly active during this time.  I think the return to writing practice and journaling is already starting to let my thoughts flow more smoothly.  I've been having lots of great ideas and realizations and plans.

One of the things I realized was that as a coach I would like to offer more things that are specifically for writers.  Now that the idea popped up and I've said it a few times, it seems so odd that it took me until now to figure this out.  Of course I should offer classes and coaching specifically for writers!  I am a writer, I love writing, I've been teaching writing and participating in groups and workshops for decades.  It's my "thing!"

So in the coming weeks I'm going to be putting in a lot of time with these ideas and coming up with some coaching and other offerings to help my fellow writers along the path.  I'm loving that plan and can't wait to have more to share.



ROW80 check-in:

I feel like I should be writing more.  Should.  That word again, sneaking back in, causing trouble.  I am going to burn that word in effigy!  Besides, who says I should?

Journaling on the back of a collage card--it is enough.
Journaling on the back of a collage card--it is enough.

I am continuing my re-read of Writing Down the Bones.  And in one of those perfect timing situations, I got this message from Sarah Selecky in my inbox this week.  All about why practice, specifically writing practice, is crucial.

"Your story is important. Finishing it is important. The workshop – the critique and feedback – this is important, too...But it is not of primary importance. Your finished work is simply the performance piece of your writing life... There is so much more to your writing than the finished piece...Practice. It’s actually how we learn how to do what we want to do."

Yes, all of this.  I am focusing on this and plan to write more about practice in the coming weeks.  Focusing on practice, returning to creative practice over and over, is not as easy as I seem to think it should be.  There are so many messages from all over the internet about getting thngs done, working faster, finishing your novel in 30 days, being more productive.  It is hard to remember that practice is an essential part of my creative life.  It is hard to pull back from the noise of "do more now!" and just practice.  It is hard.  I am doing it.  I think that makes this a pretty good week.



It was 1992.  I was back in school getting a post-grad teaching certification and taking my first steps from being a storyteller and occasional poet to being a writer.  I started taking some workshops.  And I bought some books.  And one of those books is still with me.  It's right here next to me as I type because I think it's time for a re-read.

Basics 1
Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg

Re-reading this (and probably Wild Mind after) seems like the perfect accompaniment to this round of ROW80.  Taking my goals back to the basics, simplifying, just focusing on the process of writing practice is what these books are all about. These books are where I first learned this stuff!  It feels really good to be returning to this starting point.

I've been doing some very short journaling, mostly on the back of my collage cards, and it feels good to be connecting to my world with my words again.  I know I'm on the right track for me, and I think that's a pretty good check-in for right now.


This week, Jamie asks, "What do you wish to believe in?"  Here's a little bit of freewriting to answer that:

Fairy 4

I wish to believe in magic.  In fairies and miracles and bright, shining amazement floating in glittery bubbles of fairy dust.  I wish to believe that there are secrets to the Universe, things I can catch glimpses of if I open myself up and look in the right directions.  I wish to believe that I have magic inside me that I can bring out and share with the world if I keep trying.  I wish to believe that there are ghosts and aliens and Bigfoot and wild, unknown things out there and that maybe I can see some of it while I'm here.  I'm like Fox Mulder on the X-Files--I want to believe.



It's time for Round 2 of ROW80.  When Round 1 ended last Wednesday, I really wasn't sure what goals I would set for myself for the new round.  I knew I was going to join in again; ROW80 has become a part of my creative practice.  It gives me some structure to hang my creativity on.  But I am in transition right now, figuring out what direction I want to be moving in, and none of these amorphous ideas I'm having seem well suited to goal setting.

From my creative practice of Found Inspirations.
From my creative practice of Found Inspirations.

My overall intention for this round is to reconnect with my love of writing and creativity.  This round is not about finishing stories or word count or anything like that.  This round is all about practice for the sake of practicing and enjoying the process and nothing else.

My goals:

  • Writing practice --just writing to play with words, describe what I see around me, sink into words on the page, as often as I am able
  • Creative practice--Found Inspirations as many days a week as I feel pulled to it.
  • Movement practice--stretching, dancing, moving in ways that feel good to reconnect with my body and start to overcome the chronic pain I've been experiencing, as often as I can

I want to connect more with my intuition, and I think all of these practices combined will help me do that.  Natalie Goldberg writes about how writing practice is like a meditation practice, and when I was doing it regularly I found that to be true.  Working on collages for Found Inspirations feels very meditative too, both when I'm paging through magazines to find words and images that call to me and when I'm sifting through my clippings to find what calls to me for a collage.  And stretching and dancing movements become meditative if you can let yourself just move without thinking about steps or specific exercises.

I feel like this is a good path for me even though these aren't particularly solid, typical ROW80 type goals.  I know I am feeling pulled to do this very strongly, so I'm going to follow that pull and see where it takes me this round.



This is the last check-in of Round 1 of ROW80.  I'm not sure I ever hit my stride for this round.  And I'm not sure I know what I want to do for the next round.  But time marches on, and whether I'm ready or not, we're wrapping up this round.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA How did the time fly by so quickly?  I feel like most of it was taken up by being sick.  And a bunch of personal difficulties that have kept me anxious and distracted this round.  I didn't get much writing done at all.

But that's not really a good way to wrap things up.  So, what did I do this round?  I revamped my website, have started revising my blog posts, planned a new structure for my newsletters, launched an e-course, launched an in-person course, got a real start finally on the house organizing project, realized that I need to take my writing back to my roots of writing practice and journaling.

Okay, that's a better way to bring things to a close.  I did actually get a lot done this round even if it wasn't what I'd originally planned.  Now, time to get ready for Round 2.



Today I had an epiphany.  I think I've had this one before.  I think I will probably have it again.  But today I thought, "Right where you are is where to start. No need to catch up or do anything else but take one step on the path."   And I knew it was true.  There are things I've been feeling so behind on (for example, the Life Book 2013 class I'm taking that fell by the wayside when I got the flu/pneumonia/Plague of 2013 and that I am just this week getting back to).  But today I realized that none of them are things that I have to do anything with except just start again, take the next step, just pick them back up and bring them back into my life.

I wrote my spring wish for Wishcasting on the back!

Some things I want to start/restart from right here:

  • Art journaling
  • Journal writing/writing practice
  • Drawing (taking Draw Happy with Jane Davenport and it's great!)
  • House cleaning/organizing
  • Creative practice

I have some other things I want to do, but I haven't worked out a nice, concise catch phrase for them to put into my bulleted list (such a shame--I love lists!).  Maybe another list another time when I have a clearer picture.

I am planning some changes to this blog and my newsletter, and one of the changes involves me getting back into a regular creative practice which is why that phrase shows up there on my list.  I'm not sure what that creative practice will look like just now.  It will probably have something to do with art journaling, I think. It would have been easier if I had started this in January because then I could have done a "one year of such-and-such" sort of thing, but it's not January so I don't think that will be the thing.  "Nine months of such-and-such" maybe?  That could work out.

Meanwhile, I'm doing a little bit of Wishcasting Wednesday and a ROW80 check-in, and then I'm going back to organizing my blog reader to help me feed my soul and boost my inspiration and make connections to my creative peeps every day.

Wishcasting Wednesday:

Jamie asks, "What is your spring wish?"  I wish to have more faith in myself and confidence in my abilities.  I wish to believe in myself at least strongly enough to let me keep moving forward and not get mired in self-doubt and worry.


Mostly this week is still about figuring out where I am going with my writing and how all of the different sorts of writing I do can fit together comfortably.  I had a huge breakthrough on the changes I want to make for my blog and newsletter, so this contemplation and giving myself some space is paying off.  I've been writing in my journal and making lists and notes all over the place, and I feel things coming together and opening up for me.

One of the things I realized in the past few days is that I want to put a big focus on journaling and Natalie Goldberg style writing practice.  I'm not sure this is something for a ROW80 goal for next round--I feel like I should be making goals about stories and blog writing.  "Real" writing.  But writing practice is real writing, too, and I know that it helps me reconnect with my storyteller self, so I know it's important.  It just feels a little weird to be putting it out in public as my main goal right now.  But I know it's the right thing to be doing right now, so I'm standing my ground and sticking with it, and if it's weird, then I guess I'll just be a happy, writing weirdo!





For what feels like the first time in ages, I am coming to a ROW80 check-in feeling really good about how I'm doing.  My decision to take my writing back to the bare-bones basics was a good one.  I feel like a huge weight has been lifted from me.  I find I am suddenly looking around at my world and seeing possibilities, things I can do and want to do rather than tasks that must be completed.

One of the things I've been wrestling with since September is the balance between working on my coaching and working on my writing.  I've been trying to set goals to accomplish things in both areas, and for the most part nothing has been happening.  Now that I've backed off on trying to work on a specific story, I have had many insights.  I believe the right course for me just now is to put my main focus on creating content for my coaching and teaching.

Of course, I have no intention of ditching my writing.  I get cranky when I'm not writing regularly.  But I see now that moving back to journaling and doing writing practice (Natalie Goldberg style, working from prompts or just working on descriptions of what I see around me, etc.) while I get my footing on the coaching front is an excellent choice.  Both things are very important to me, and I want to give them both time and attention.  But a big project requires extra time and attention in the beginning stages, and that's where I am in my coaching and in my story writing.  I haven't been getting anything done because there just isn't enough energy to put that much attention into both.

I think once things are up and running with my coaching, once I find a rhythm there on some level, the stories will be able to work their way back in more easily, especially if I keep the way paved with writing practice and journaling.  And this plan feels do-able and good.  It feels like I am not having to abandon one thing in favor of the other, and that is important to me.

One funny thing is happening.  I am finding that on some of the writing prompt exercises, the story snippets I write are about some of the characters from my two current WIPs.  So who knows--maybe as I keep going on this I will have some story work done after all.  I am not opposed to that; I just don't plan to actively set goals for that right now.  For now, just engaging with writing in small bits and pieces while I give my coaching lots of time and attention feels really good, so I'm sticking with this plan.

Goals through Sunday:

  • Writing practice or journaling at least 3 times
  • Create a creative play area in the living room because I always end up working in there anyhow
  • Create a space in the bedroom to lay out my clothes the night before so my mornings get easier