Month: January 2015

#ROW80 – Failure and Being Kind to Yourself

It’s been three days since I started ROW80 and already I see my goals my need changing. I’ve written two out of three days, which is good. But I’ve only managed about 500 words per day which is 1000 words shy of my goal of 1000 words per day.

I tend to beat myself up over goals which is one reason that during my hiatus from fiction writing I didn’t make any writing goals. I wrote as I felt lead. I have little vignettes and scenes that run the gamut of emotions: humour, angst, passion, anger, lust, tenderness. Some of these are the best scenes I’ve ever written. Why? Because I just let them happen. I didn’t have an agenda. I didn’t have any finish-by-this-date goals and I had no intention of publishing anything during that time. It was all for me. For fun. I’m a writer. Whether anyone else sees my words or not doesn’t change that one fact. Writers write.

ROW80 is part of my personal therapy. As someone who has been a therapist, I know the importance of attainable goals, especially when one is attempting to change behavior patterns or ways of thinking that are no longer useful, or perhaps even harmful. We need to feel a level of success in order to continue moving forward on our quest for self-improvement and healing. What I like about ROW80 is that no one is there to stand in judgement if the goals I set for myself were too lofty or perhaps not even the right goals for right now. I can attempt to meet the mark I set for myself and if I fail, I get to determine the cause for that failure and adjust my goals as needed. Or not. Maybe that goal is a stretch goal and maybe I need it there to push me. Sometimes stretch goals are very, very good. Sometimes they can be detrimental.

Right now, because I’m a recovering perfectionist and because I just got the joy of writing fiction back in my life, I am going to drop my word count per writing session goal to 500 words per day. If I do better than that, excellent! If I only make 500 words, still excellent.

Every writer is on his or her own journey. The support we get from each other along the way is invaluable. The support and self-care we give ourselves is even more important. But we need to be honest with ourselves. If we aren’t honest about why we are doing, or not doing, then it’s too easy to fall into the trap of never doing. Or the trap of burning out. I know. I had to quit my job due to burnout because I forgot just how very important self-care is to my well-being. Sure, I was the best process engineer I could be (yes, that is correct. I was a process engineer and systems trainer after I left the world of psychotherapy). But at what cost?

It wasn’t until my health became bad enough that I couldn’t work that I paused and started to consider what I need to be healthy and happy. And what my family needs. I’m still in recovery. It took years for me to get to this place, it may take a while for me to swim out. I’m okay with that. Now. Just as I’m okay with the fact that I may have to exercise my writing brain some more before I can swing 1000+ words per day. And that this draft will likely┬ábe that shitty first draft writers talk about. I may have to learn to plot in different ways. I may need to relearn some of the craft I knew inside out and backwards before. And that’s okay. What’s not okay is not trying.

So that’s my update. My goals are changing and I feel good about the progress I’ve made thus far. I hope you feel just as good about your progress, as well.

#ROW80 2015 Round 1 Goals – Jumping In

Author Kait Nolan is an amazing and generous woman, and is the mother of the ROW80 movement. What is #ROW80? Well, if you follow the link above you will find all the information you need, but in a nutshell, #ROW80 is Kait’s answer to NaNoWriMo. Instead of setting aside one month to shove live aside and write a 50,000 work first draft of a novel, you take 80 days to write toward your goal, be it writing a first draft, revising a novel, making consistent progress on your work in progress (WIP). All without having to check out of real life in order to get the job done.

I actually did a challenge like this several years ago, one that was sponsored by Shiloh Walker, if I remember correctly. The challenge was 70 Days of Sweat, and the goal was to write 75,000 to 100,000 words over 70 days. When I did the math, this meant writing about 1000 to 1500 words a day. Totally doable! At the time I was working 50+ hours per week, was deep into renovations on the house (no kitchen, people, no kitchen!), and was trying to start up a coaching practice. We don’t talk about that start up, and the renovations – let’s just say we are much closer to being renovation free. But the 70 Days of Sweat? That was a sweet success!

So, as I start 2015, I decided to do something I had been talking about doing for the last four years and step up for the current round of ROW80.

Here are my goals:

  1. Write five out of seven days.
  2. Write an average of 1100 words a day. I’ve done this before using #1k1h sprints and I think I can do this while plotting. I’m a pantser trying to find a way of plotting that works for me so we’ll see if this is a realistic goal.
  3. Read one craft book.
  4. Blog here three days a week. With the ROW80 check-in days, that means only one other post. If I post more, bonus!

Those are my goals. I’m not working at the moment but am dealing with some intense health issues so we’ll see how this goes. I love that this is flexible and it’s about my writing goals, not anyone else’s. If I have to massage my goals, then I can. No questions asked. Thanks, Kait, for not only starting this, but sticking with it and being such an awesome influencer and inspiration along the way!

I Am A Writer

I am a writer.

These are words I need to tell myself over and over again because almost everyone around me views my writing as this cute little hobby. Why? Because after ten years of writing fiction and various blogs I 1) not a single sentence from my fiction has been published and 2) I have never been able to gain a strong following on these various blogs.

Which begs the question, why am I starting another blog now?

Last year after almost four years of extreme writers block my mind was suddenly filled with stories. I let go of the goal to publish and suddenly the stories started to flow. Funny how something like the dream of making a living writing fiction can start to cause anxiety and doubt, which in turn causes the creative flow to dry up. It’s like a dam was built in my mind and all that creative energy was caught behind that dam, allowed to trickle out in short spurts or painstaking drips. It was, in a word, torture. I knew I could write. I knew I could tell stories. Maybe not well, but I was working on refining my craft so that each story, each revision produced something better than the one before. And I loved the process. Loved it! So to have it seized and locked away was torture.

When I let go of the pressure of publication and when I started journaling for myself, the stories started to flow again. Not quickly at first. And not fully formed like they had before. It’s different now, but the creativity, it’s there. So I started writing again. Pulled out my craft books and dove back into learning. And I told myself it was time to announce to the world that I am a writer.

Sure, I hope to publish. In fact, since I’m unable to work at the moment I kinda hope I can actually turn this love into something that can supplement our family income. But I also want to write for the love of telling a story. What I’ve learned over the past four years is that without the love of telling the story the story falls flat and the process becomes tedious. At least it does for me.

So this year I come fully out from behind my excuses and fears and declare that I am a writer and this is a blog about my journey.