What Happens When I Finish Something

What Happens When I Finish Something

Insecure Writers Support Group BadgeIt’s the first Wednesday of February, time for my Writing Journey post.  Thank you Insecure Writer’s Support Group for the monthly nudge. You’ll see lots of other fabulous insight by checking out the blogroll on their site here.

This month, the IWSG Day Question is How do you celebrate when you achieve a writing goal or finish a story?


First thing first.

You Need a Reason to Celebrate

You can’t celebrate achieving a goal unless you’ve got goals in place.  I’ve been mulling over this for the last week, trying to find a touchpoint that resonated.

I Could Pamper Myself

I could readily pen my thoughts on what to reward myself-  a massage, a couple of hours with a purely entertaining novel and a pot of tea, a nap. An extra walk with the dog.  A cookie.  Some time set aside to play with my fountain pens, or do some genealogy research or bake some bread. Maybe a a weekend retreat someplace with an ocean or a forest full of trails, for a big-deal accomplishment.

But First, Make a Plan!

But I found myself returning to but what about actually setting the goals? I couldn’t let it go. Sometimes my brain can be such a nag.

I work with my calendar, scheduling chunks of time to write, or edit, or research. I give myself deadlines. I set long term goals and break them into smaller, manageable pieces. I’ve been known to give myself word-count goals.

Some things work better than others.

I Wonder What Everyone Else Does?

I wonder what other people do?  I’ve read plenty of accounts online and in various writing magazines. I’ve sat in seminars and listened to panels discuss this very topic. Hours and hours, I’ve given to this topic, especially earlier in my writing journey.  I’ve heard the opinions and suggestions of countless experts.

But I don’t really know any of those people.

So, What About the People I Actually Know?

I recently sat around a table with a group of writers and posed the question. Some I’d met recently, others I’ve known longer.  But at least I could feel a bit of a personal connection, unlike an article, website, or panel of important people up on a stage.

Guess what?  Some of the most prolific wordsmiths I know don’t even give themselves goals. They sit down at the keyboard when they feel like it, and, once they get going, the words just start to flow. Others schedule times and/or places they write. Still others opt for a daily word-count goal.

You do what works for You!


And, Then, We Digress…

We broke into simultaneous  animated conversations about what to do with middle-of-the-night inspirations and I never got to ask about celebrating achievements.  Nuts.

My conclusions?

  • Gotta set goals before you can achieve them.
  • I’m still curious how others reward themselves.
  • And I must get writing on what do do with that inconvenient brilliant idea.

We Were Discussing Goals and Rewards…

As far as treating myself – well, the feeling of achievement carries its own warm fuzzies.  I feel good when I can check something off on the list.  I don’t want to get in the habit of tangible attaboys every time I accomplish any little thing.  Despite that, those things I mentioned at the very beginning – the walk, the nap, playing with pens or genealogy, a cup of tea, even a retreat – yes, I use them.  I just make a point to sprinkle them into my plan, rather than pile them on.














It’s Not Just About Craft – How I’m Learning The Business Side of this Writing Thing

It’s Not Just About Craft – How I’m Learning The Business Side of this Writing Thing

It’s the first Wednesday of February, time for my Writing Journey post.  Thank you Insecure Writer’s Support Group for the monthly nudge. You’ll see lots of other fabulous insight by checking out the blogroll on their site here.

Insecure Writers Support Group BadgeThis month’s suggested question is What do you love about the genre you write in most often?  That’s a great question, but difficult for me to answer.  I wrote all kinds of nonfiction. These days, speculative fiction, YA, fantasy, historical, mythical, old school science fiction, folklore, legend, or some inexplicable combination push their way out of my brain. And my in-the-works upmarket humorous women’s fiction. Sheesh, I recently even entered a poetry contest. My creations are not always easily categorized. I don’t swim in a single lake at a time. Read more

2017 Writing – Would I Do This Again?

So you may have seen me mention Insecure Writers Support Group.  You can also find them on Twitter – @TheIWSG.  This group of writers support and encourage one another through their blogs. The first Wednesday of the month, a question is presented.  In keeping with my commitment to put words to paper regularly, I’m participating.  Here it goes…

And the First Question Is…

As you look back on 2017, with all its successes/failures, if you could backtrack, what would you do differently?


Transition was my watchword for 2017.  As the year opened, I’d spent the previous 18 months dealing with commitments and unexpected situations that had been wreaking havoc with my personal roadmap. And it appeared that the upheaval was going to continue through the better part of the year.  It did.

But here’s a good thing about those circumstances that swept me away from my status quo.  I found myself in a place of evaluation.  Sometimes the inertia of day to day life shoves aside the time spent thinking about whether the hours are spent on the right things.  Those upside down days, endless hours driving to be where I was needed, and complete disruption of my activities and schedule – they provided me the opportunity to review and prioritize.

Turns out I wasn’t getting any nearer to checking items off my “get to it someday” list.  And now I had the chance to take a better look.

I Wrote.  And I Write.

I write. I’ve always written. The word compulsion could be bandied about with reasonable accuracy. The turn of a perfect phrase makes me smile, and it brings me pure joy if I happened to be the one who put it on a page.

It has been decades since I’ve been published; I was pretty certain the industry had changed.  So I decided to learn more, and it turns out there was a writer’s conference in my hometown, on a weekend when I’d be home.  That was enough of a sign for me.  I registered.

The point of attending this little local gathering was to determine if my passion deserved dedicated attention.  In my world, this is a very real consideration.  I have this embarrassing habit of finding joy in some new creative pursuit, stocking up on all the accoutrements, diving in one hundred and ten percent.  And then growing bored.  My closet full of art and craft supplies covered in a thin layer of dust accuse me every time I glance in that direction.

My goal was to take that weekend, learn everything I could, and then make a decision – to continue dabbling or to pursue this craft seriously.  Would I be able to write professionally again?

Well, That Was Unexpected

I arrived at the venue and discovered that the little local conference was actually quite the big deal, with nationally recognized speakers, and writers pitching and/or selling their latest success. The fact that I didn’t turn and run in terror gave me some confidence that maybe I was in the right place.

And It Worked!

I learned more in that weekend than I could have imagined.  And I made my decision.  I set goals and timelines and began to familiarize myself with the local writing community.  I’ve begun the never finished task of improving my craft.  I’ve learned about publishing and genres and word counts and all kinds of details that I didn’t remember from back in the day.  I’ve been fortunate to digest advice from generous experts in their fields.  I’ve absorbed all kinds of knowledge and hints and vocabulary (I never knew beats meant that). I’ve met bunches of people who don’t look at me funny when I whip out a notebook and write down a compelling phrase or idea.  I’ve edged my way into my local writing community.

Yes, Yes I DID

I even participated in NaNoWriMo 2017.  My goal was not noble – I wanted to cement a habit of regular writing.  I was successful!  I won NaNoWriMo, though I imagine only a  small percentage of the words in that document are even worthy of being recycled into something else later.  Who know, I’ll address that in January when I go and reevaluate my creation.  But I wrote regularly and reinforced my habit.

So, What Would I Change?

Are there things I’d do differently in retrospect?  Of course there are.  Perhaps I’d have sat in on the big deal agent’s headliner workshop at that conference, instead of the (understandably) sparsely attended beginner’s workshop across the hall. I probably would have purchased a couple of fountain pens sooner. I’d have been more choosy about craft books.  And I wouldn’t have considered it realistic to write a thoughtful review of every single book I read. Because, yes, I read many many books.

And What Would I Do Again?

And I’ll continue to read like crazy.  Craft books, fiction, poetry, nonfiction, magazines, blogs… Yes, I’d attend that conference (and I will again, in 2018).  Yes, I’d talk to all kinds of writers and learn about different genres and craft and style and publishing.  Yes, for sure I’d do all that learning again.  Yes, making my writing a commitment was the right choice.  And, yes, finding the Insecure Writer’s Support Group was pure happenstance, but I’d connect over there again, too.

And I Conclude…

2017 threw me over and left me discombobulated, and that turned out to be the perfect opportunity to look around, set some priorities and make a decision or two.  And I think 2018 will be the better for it.

NaNoWriMo 2017

I was fortunate to recently meet author K.J. Scrim.

A pleasant visit over a a meal I’d been craving.  I probably annoyed her with my incessant questions.  Brain picking experienced folks I admire is a sometime hobby of mine.  I was so pleased to finally meet this woman and learn a few things from her.

In any case, a while back I’d seen on her blog mention of Insecure Writers Support Group. I was intrigued.  This group of writers support and encourage one another through their blogs. The first Wednesday of the month, a question is presented; I appreciate that it isn’t one of the same tired old things I see asked regularly.  I’ve never been part of a Blog Hop before, and this month’s question is relevant to me, so I decided it is time to give it a go.

The Question

Win or not, do you usually finish your NaNo project? Have any of them gone on to be published?

What the Heck is NaNoWriMo?’

For those who may not know, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month, and the goal of participants is to write a complete novel starting November 1st and finishing by the end of the month.  The event began in 1999, and in 2005, National Novel Writing Month became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. NaNoWriMo’s programs now include National Novel Writing Month in November, Camp NaNoWriMo, the Young Writers Program, Come Write In, and the “Now What?” Months.  Only 21 people participated in that first event.  This past year, over 384,000 took the challenge.

The Short Answer

Super easy for me to answer.  No and No.  Not because I’m a complete failure at NaNoWriMo, but because this is my first year giving it a go. And This is Why

I plan on finishing,  making it to my 50,000 words, and I hope to do so before the month is out.  I never take the easy path, November is busy as it is, with Thanksgiving and the holidays just around the corner.  This year, I’ll be dealing with some extra distractions beyond the normal.  This, I hope, will make my victory all the sweeter.

As far as possibility of publication, I have a bit of hope, but think it will be unlikely.  My primary motivation for participating in NaNoWriMo this year is to reinforce the discipline of the habit of writing regularly.  I’m confident I’ll accomplish that.  But I found, as I began getting words down today, the first day, I realized that I lean hard towards planner. Not such a bad thing, except I keep finding skips and gaps and holes in my outline.  I’m forcing myself to just go with it, writing and only occasionally tweaking the planned chapters and scenes.  But I’m pretty certain that the final result will need some serious surgery before being ready for public consumption.

New Approach Here

What fun I’m having, having excised my internal orders to not just write, but write really well from the get-go.  I will be something of new experience holding off all that editing for later on.  Word Sprints are going to be my friends.

The NaNo word counter I stuck on my home page is working!  Now I have the accountability that goes with  half dozen or so of you who stop by my blog viewing my progress. One more little nudge to keep me on track.

Once I get my own post live, figure out the linking for the Blog Hop, and get this out, I’m going to go and see what all those other writers had to say on the matter.  I know I’ll be finding good things.

Thanks to awesome co-hosts for the November 1 posting of the IWSG are Tonja Drecker, Diane Burton,MJ Fifield, and Rebecca Douglass!