What do I do now?

I finished my first 365 day challenge at the end of 2014. We are now well into the first month of 2015 and I am floundering a bit.

Do I do another year of writing every day? I thought I would but haven’t been doing so consistently since ending the first 365 days. I want to tweak the challenge a bit before starting again. Unfortunately I have been rather indecisive as to what the new guidelines will be.

Committing to write everyday was a tremendously helpful goal to set. I wrote far more than I would have without the commitment, even if perhaps not so much in the direction I need to be going. The first year commitment was simply to write every day. I made no restrictions on what I would write. Free writing, character sketch, poetry, work on short story or novel or even a blog post, all counted as my writing for the day.

Now I am at a place where I need to pick a new challenge. So, I thought I would ask your advice! 🙂

What should the new challenge be?

-Same exact challenge? Just write. Every day.

-Build my blog? Increase the number of days I blog? Throw in some challenges like Flash Fiction Fridays?

-Write Every Day exclusively on current WIP? And then into next book in the series. No blog posts or poems or side projects count for daily writing requirement?

-Combination of both? Blogging more & differently and write every day?

-Something different? Suggestions welcome!

I know that the saying is true, without a plan, a goal is just a wish. I am working out my plan now. I need to make a decision soon and move forward with a new challenge because I have already been missing the habit I had established with the previous challenge.

Thanks for your thoughts and suggestions. 🙂

Have a great week!

CJ

It’s about to get crazy

Tomorrow, football season starts for my oldest son. We have practice four nights a week for two hours for three weeks, then three nights for an hour and a half for the rest of the season. Plus games on Saturday and random events/fundraising. He’s 9. And I have two other sons starting martial arts. And a little thing called school with lots of reading and homework. So… my life is about to get really crazy. 🙂

I am going to need to really work hard to keep up with all of that AND stick to my writing challenge. But the great thing about having a goal, and sharing it with others, is that you have a way to keep moving ahead when things get crazy.

A friend posted this great quote on Facebook today:

Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.
– Henry Ford

I may get busy ( or rather, busier ), but I will keep my eyes on the goal.

Have a great week y’all and I’ll catch you next Sunday after I have made it through our first week back to football. 🙂

PS – I saw 30 Seconds to Mars in concert for the first time last night and it was such a fun time! I became a fan in the last year or so. You can read a tiny bit of my 30 Seconds to Mars love in my A is for Alibi post from earlier this year. Seeing them live was great. And they played part of the song Hurricane, which is one of my favorites!!

I will have to see them again and I will have to get seats closer to the stage next time. If you wanna go see a cool show – be sure to check them out.

And Jared Leto – he is awesome. 🙂

How Not To Write Your Book

I took Friday off from my “real job”, and was able to spend the whole morning sorting through the craziness that is my current first draft. Since I am struggling to finish this first draft – and have long since set aside another to gather dust, I feel exceptionally well qualified to speak on this subject. Give me a few months and hopefully I can sing a different tune. 🙂

5. Take your sweet time with no real timeline or goals in place
I started my current work in progress well over a year ago. I went probably about six months without touching it or thinking about it. At the end of last year I made a commitment to write every day and a good portion of those writing times have been working on this project again. Sifting through what I’ve done so far, it is ridiculously apparent from the disjointed nature of the beginning how much time must have passed from writing scene to scene. Later portions, where I was writing consistently, have a much better flow. With the commitment to write, I’ve strengthened the thread of the story. At writers meeting today we discussed setting goals. I am committing to finishing this draft by the end of May. Jessica and Larry, you can hold me to that. 😉

4. Have no real definition to your characters
I am almost finished with my first draft and I still don’t feel my female lead is that well defined. Really? Sadly, yes, really. I am seeing that I should have prepped this better. An abundance of character development aides are out there and I should not be in this position. The good news is that it is not too late for me! This is something I am working diligently on fixing.

3. Jump around to a lot of different projects when you get stuck
I committed to writing every day and I really have had to work on staying on task with my big WIP. I do have two short stories I am allowing myself to work on a bit, but before I started my writing commitment I would bounce around quite a lot. I would start writing on one story then come
up with a brilliant idea for another and still yet another the next time. I have kept the smaller pieces, but there was a fair amount of time spent just deciding what to focus on at each sitting. I’d like that time back, please.

2. Second guess yourself
Going back to what you’ve just written and picking it to pieces instead of moving forward is a great way to not finish your book. I fight this tendency a great deal. It is easy to get discouraged and see all the flaws and just keep working on the same scene. I have done this and still not been happy. So I have finally gotten to a point where I just keep moving forward without a lot of re-reading. I have to do some re-reading of course, but it has helped to just keep plugging away at it.

1. Compare your writing to everyone else’s
Theodore Roosevelt’s quote really resonates with me on this and I have to constantly remind myself of this when I start to do it.

Comparison is
the thief of joy.

I do it. I have heard others do it. We need to stop and enjoy our craft a bit more. Enjoy the process. And cut ourselves some slack. Which I will start doing promptly. Or else I will never finish this book, much less the series I have planned.

Have a fantastic week, everyone! And you’ll be seeing me pick back up with
the A to Z Challenge posts tomorrow with the letter F.

Day 60 of 365 Writing Challenge

Today marks the 60th day of my Write Every Day for 365 Days personal challenge. Several have asked how it has been going, so here it is – my status report. 🙂

I am very happy to report I have not missed a single day!

I have had a few days where I wrote very little and more than a few days where I wrote very poorly.

The great thing is though, I have written.

My book is coming together quite a bit more than it was in the beginning and not just because I’ve added to the word count.

It is true that I’ve had days where I’ve sat and looked at the page with no clear idea what to write. But I have to tell you, I have been so surprised with where I ended up after just putting in some time. Having made the commitment to write, I have gotten back into this book far more than I had before, adding scenes and filling in holes. That alone has been great!

Another really wonderful and very unexpected benefit of the challenge has been this blog and joining the writing ‘Twitterverse’. I never would have imagined I’d enjoy both so thoroughly. I’ve gotten words of encouragement and some really good hints both here and on Twitter. I’ve also found great blogs to follow as a result of having my own. Shout out to Mad Genius Club blog which mixes industry insight and commentary with the occasional snarky bent. All in all, a really great blog to check out.

I’ve mentioned this before but it bears repeating, this challenge has gotten me back into a writer’s group, too. I have found I always get so much out of surrounding myself with other writers. One great new friend through my writers group has been Jessica Scott whose The Lover, Lunatic and Poet blog is also worth a follow. Having positive writer friends to encourage me in the whole process is such a gift.

Perhaps the best result of the first 60 days of this challenge is simply to see what can happen when I challenge myself to be better. I’ve set an expectation for myself and now I must rise to that expectation. Without having a goal to work toward, will we ever truly progress?

I remember in high school feeling a high level of frustration with a teacher who seemed to expect not the best from his students, but the worst. His comments always indicated he predicted most would fail, or for us to cause problems or for any of a number of negative outcomes. I remember writing a long letter, since writing has always helped me sort things out, detailing how our teachers should have higher expectations for us to strive towards. I remember resolving I would never do that to my students. I never actually went into teaching but I still remember the frustration and disappointment I felt over his setting the bar so low.

My hope for myself, and for you also, is to set expectations high – perhaps even higher than we truly believe we may achieve. Maybe that will help us keep reaching.

I know it has helped me.

Day 60 of 365 – a beautiful day. Much love to all.

The Longest Short Day Ever

How can a day seem so long, but also feel way too short?  There’s just so much to do! 

This new year I have made myself a lot of goals.  This blog and writing every day have been some of my biggest goals. Returning to the writer’s group and perhaps joining a few other groups is another. 

Unrelated to writing, I’ve also put some health goals down as well, including a new commitment with my mom and my sister to walk at least 2 miles a day at least 3 days a week.  They are going to London and to Paris in a few months and need to get in walking shape for all their grand adventures.  While I am ridiculously jealous of the trip (Oh my goodness, London!), I am happy to share their commitment. 

So I’ve begun walking almost every night.   I’ve managed to find a way to maximize that time however.  I am using my treadmill time to catch up on episodes of Sherlock (with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman going all around London).  Alas this will be the closest I get to London for awhile.  It sure is fun though!

I must say with my writing, blogging and walking goals, I’m finding it difficult to cram all of that into my already full life.  I work a full time job that comes with a very long commute and then have a busy family life.  Lately I’m finding that I wish I had about two or three more hours to do all the things I want, but then am also finding that I am more than ready to call it a day.  It seems an odd juxtaposition. 

Despite the feeling of not having enough time, I start each new day excited about the goals I’ve set, the direction I am heading because of them and I do my best to be grateful for every moment of this busy life.