Jeanne: Writing at the Speed of Snail

Back during World War I, a British man named C. Northcote Parkinson did some research into work and bureaucracy. From the research, he created Parkinson’s Law, which states “Work expands so as to fill the amount of time available to complete it.”
I’m running into that exact same problem with my writing.

When I was still working, I wrote 10-20 hours a week. Now it’s more like 20-25 (no, not 40, because other tasks also expand to fill the amount of time available for them). But with twice as much time, I’m not getting twice as much written. Continue reading

Nancy: January (2018!) Accountability Thread

Wow, here we are in a whole new year. Choosing watchwords. Taking stock of 2017. Making plans for 2018. So in this accountability thread, I want to look at the big annual picture before I set my January goals. And as for accountability for my December goals? Well, to paraphrase Jeanne paraphrasing Robert Burns, the best laid schemes of mice and writers…you know how it ends.

Say the Word

I struggled with a watchword this year, trying on a few possibilities: focus, dedication, gratitude. None of those are bad, and in fact I do hope to incorporate all of those in practice this year. But none of them felt like a thesis statement for the year ahead. Then while thinking about something entirely different, something I now can’t even recall, I thought about how happy I am when I discover am surprised by the turn a story takes, get to see how other writers create story, or try to decipher how to complete a challenge (mental or physical). I get such joy from the sense of wonder these experiences engender, and I knew that was it, my 2018 watchword: wonder, as in ‘to be filled with admiration, amazement, or awe’. Continue reading

Jilly: 2018 In A Word

Happy New Year!

Do you play the watchword game? That is, choose a single word to epitomize your approach to the coming year? It’s not as restrictive as a goal or resolution. More like a theme, defined as ‘an idea that recurs and pervades.’

Elizabeth told us on Wednesday that her word for 2018 is FINISH, to be applied to one project per month, not necessarily writing-related.

Last year I wanted a call to action. I settled on PUBLISH, and here’s how I explained my choice:

That doesn’t mean I expect Alexis to be published by the end of 2017, though that would be thrilling. It means that everything writing-related that I do this year should be directed towards that end. By next New Year’s Eve, at the very least I should know the specifics of how and when that book, and that series, will get published.

I think I did pretty well with that.

  • I finished Alexis Book 1 and, with Jeanne’s help, tidied up the ms well enough to win a contest and get some nice comments from the judges.
  • I made a final decision to pursue indie publishing, joined Mark Dawson’s Self-Publishing 101 course and worked through the lectures.
  • I signed up with Jeanne’s editor, Karen Dale Harris, and sent Alexis to her. I received my report just before Christmas and I’m now working my way through Karen’s comprehensive and challenging feedback.
  • I decided to write two more stories from Alexis’s past, one to be given away on my mailing list and the other as a prequel to kick off Alexis’s series. I resolved to get both of these finished before I release the first Alexis book, even if that means I have to let the ‘go live’ date slip a few months.
  • I spent a lot of time thinking about my titles, covers, and all kinds of other useful indie-publishing need-to-know decisions I learned about from the Mark Dawson classes. I now have a pretty good idea of how I’m going to handle most of them.

This year I’m going for a different approach, because although I keep inching forward, I’m feeling a kind of mounting frustration that I still have so much to do and it’s taking me so damn long to hatch a book.

Continue reading

Nancy: A Different Kind of Writer’s Gift List

As we’ve been discussing a lot here on the blog, ’tis the season for many things. Among these are lists of gift recommendations for the writer in your life (or for we writers to forward to our loved ones). Our own Michille and Jilly shared ideas and links to lists on other parts of the interwebs here and here. They contain writing-oriented games, fun writing tools, and caffeine delivery systems. I should add that Bourbon (or adult beverage of choice), chocolate, and fiction books should be priorities on your ‘what to buy for my writer’ list. But writers don’t just need things. Our care and feeding is complex, nuanced, and – as my husband would like you to know – exhausting.

So today, instead of discussing what others can give  me during the holiday season, I’m focusing on gifts I can give myself for the entire year of 2018. It’s going to be a big year for several of us here at the blog, with book launches and marketing, more books to write and revise, and readers to cultivate. Now is a good time to take a deep breath, get a warm cup of something to hold in our hands, and think about the foundations we’ll need to pull off this stellar year. To help jump-start your own thought process, here’s my list.

Self-Confidence. Dorothy had to learn this in the Wizard of Oz. Many of our protagonists have to learn it as part of their journeys, or even as their ‘big life lesson’ in our stories. Writers know how important belief in oneself is. Without it, we won’t have the audacity to brain-dump words onto pages and chip and chisel and shape them for months or years with the belief that someday, someone else will want to read our stories. But that doesn’t stop us from second-guessing ourselves at every turn. Imposter syndrome. Writers block. Sophomore slump. These are catchy phrases that strike terror in writers’ hearts, but at the core of all of them is a lack of belief that we can really do this audacious thing. Continue reading

Nancy: December Accountability Thread

This is it, our last monthly accountability thread for 2017! Can you believe it?

For the past eight days, I’ve been a few thousand miles from home. I’ve been sightseeing, extroverting (in my own introverted way), and occasionally (very very occasionally) squeezing in some writing. In a few hours, possibly around the time you read this, I’ll be frantically checking to ensure I’ve packed everything, running off to see a few last sights, and dashing (sitting) through rush-hour traffic in LA to make it to the airport in time to catch my flight home. But all of this is to your benefit, as for this month’s accountability recap and next month’s goal-setting, I’ll be brief!

You know how this works. First, we’ll recap November’s progress. Continue reading

Nancy: November Accountability Thread

It’s already the first Monday of November. Can you believe it? And you know what that means! It’s time to fess up. Tell us what you did (or didn’t) accomplish toward your creative goals for October, then share your November goals.

So are you ready to play ‘I’ll show you mine, you show me yours’? As always, I’ll go first. This month, though, I’m going to do this a little differently. No harsh words for myself. No disappointment. Celebration and appreciation for what I did get done. It’s all part of incorporating self compassion into my creative process. I’ll write more about that in next week’s post. But for now, time for some self-compassionate accountability.

October Goals

1) Finish the novella revision. Continue reading

Nancy: October Accountability Thread

As Jilly mentioned in yesterday’s post, it’s already October. Autumn has arrived in the Northern Hemisphere! Like many people, I find the cool, crisp air and explosion of colorful leaves invigorating and uplifting. It gives me energy and a renewed sense of purpose. It probably even helped me get in gear to post our first Monday accountability thread on (who woulda thunk it!) the actual first Monday of the month. So I’m already doing a better job of accomplishing things in October than I did in August and September.

While Jilly and a few others shared their goals for this final quarter of the year, I’m eating a slightly smaller elephant (one bite at a time) by setting some goals for this tenth month of 2017. But first, I give you the September recap, with less success than I’d hoped to report.

September Goals

1) Finish the novella revision. You have to be as sick of seeing this goal on my list as I am. This one is a good news/bad news story. I have made progress! I can see light at the end of this seemingly never-ending revision tunnel! But I’m not done, not yet. I think there are a whole lot of reasons for this, not the least of which is fear of finishing, of letting this thing go and moving onto the next step of the process which will end in eventually releasing it into the world. It will never be perfect. It will never be as wonderful on paper/screen as it was in my head, not even close. And I’ve been having a hard time making peace with that. September was, at least, a chance to realize this and to fight through some of the harder parts of the rewrite.

2) Make my one-year writing plan. Yay, a success! I’m able to check this one off my list. And I actually have a two-year writing plan, with built-in flexibility and the prerogative to change it if necessary, but as it is, it’s a really good plan!

3) Sign up for a 6-month book coaching program. Done! However, I now won’t be starting the 6-month journey until November, but it’s all good, because that fits with my two-year writing plan.

4) Re-engage with this and other special online communities. Well, I fell short on this one, too. But I did at least get back to reading posts (most weeks), interacted with a few groups on Facebook, and I took advantage of the opportunity to connect with a few of my tribes live and in person in September.

October Goals

Out with the old goals, in with the new. Except, of course, in the case of that novella…

1) Finish the novella revision. Seriously. I’m sick of saying it; you’re sick of hearing it. Here’s hoping I officially cross this one off the list this time.

2) Finish the next 30,000 words in my WIP. This is another in the Victorian Romance series. My writing plan says I’ll release that (damn) novella and the first two full-length books in the series in 2018. This is the second of the 2018 full-length books, and after October’s 30k words, I’ll have 20k or less left to go. Even with my painfully slow revision process and all the steps that need to occur between first draft and publication, I’m dangerously close to achieving that 2018 publishing goal if I hit this October writing goal.

3) Get on a writing schedule. It doesn’t have to be rigid, and I don’t want to beat myself up if I miss the occasional writing session. But I want to get back to some good habits I once had. With the really big personal and professional obligations of the past few months behind me, this feels like the right time to do it.

That’s it. Nothing that I haven’t done before. Nothing I can’t do again, if I get my writing house in order. How about you? Tell us what goals you plan to accomplish this month as the days get shorter and cooler, and the smell of freshly-baked apple pie wafts through the air (or is that only at my house?).