Archive for the ‘goals’ Category


Are you done yet?

I announced a few weeks ago that I am going to be doing NaNoWriMo this year to finish my novel which I have been working on for just over a year. I just wanted to give a quick update as to my progress.

Before NaNoWriMo I had about 74,000 words written and had reached some pretty crucial parts of the story, but just could not focus to really write them. I had a few setbacks, like when my laptop died a week after I bought Scrivener. September and October were busy times at work this year, which kept me very busy. But really, while some of my setbacks were legit, most of them were really just excuses to justify not writing.

I think the idea of finishing this book kind of scares me. I’ve never written anything this big. Or more to the point, finished anything this big. It is a daunting thought to think I’ve written a book. I am friends with a lot of writers who write many, many books. They write articles, short stories, novels, novellas…I could go on. I’ve written short stories and essays. I have blogged. I have started novels. I’ve gotten over 25,000 words into novels and then just stopped writing them. Finishing a novel? I never have.

Novels are big and scary things to write. I said it was a daunting task. It feels like an insurmountable goal. Improbable even that I could write one. An unattainable goal.

But once I had my story firmly in mind and I made some basic notes on it. I slogged away at it several times a week until I had written 74,000 words, suddenly finishing it felt…possible. And that is an exciting feeling.

Over the course of this past year, I have been listening to podcasts about writing. I listen to Grammar Girl, The Writer Files, The Moth, and my current favorite, I Should Be Writing. I have read books about writing and listened to a couple on Audible about writing. My favorite is of course the classic On Writing by Stephen King. And I’ve made attending my writer’s groups a priority. My work schedule makes going to them difficult sometimes, but I change my schedule or do a shift trade so that I can make it more often than I had in the past. I have even joined another writer’s group that meets once a month to discuss long-form writing. That group is really just me and one or two other friends, but it helps keep me motivated.

Basically, I have fully immersed myself into this project by thinking about writing, talking about writing, strategizing about writing, and finally sitting down and doing the actual work of writing.

So, the promised update on my NaNo progress…

We are 11 days in. Just over the 1/3 mark. My current word count is 17,828. I still have a little over 500 words to write today, but I will get that done. I began the first week of November a little bit in the hole. But I wrote my way out of it and caught up. I try to stay a little bit ahead of 1,667 daily word count. I have the day off today, so I am going to try to get a day ahead so that I do not lose my momentum.

By the time I finish the 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo, I will have written right around 125,000 words. My goal is that the first draft of my novel will be done by then.

Then the fun begins…rewriting!


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What a horrible blogger I am!  I feel like it has been months since I have written on this blog.  I have spent all of my time writing on my self-absorbed weight loss blog talking about myself and my gastric by-pass surgery.  I have completely neglected this blog and my other writing obligations.  Just a quick note, the surgery went well.  I have lost 71 pounds.  I have been writing quite a bit.

I owe my friend Jeff Miller a review of his book, The Bubble Gum Thief.  I need to post my 2013 writing goals.  I also want to talk about some of the other non-diet-blog writing I have been doing.

In this post, I am going to talk about my 2013 writing goals and about some of my other writing.  You see, my writer’s group asks each of us to create goals for the new year and to be specific.  We cannot just say, “write more,”  we have to set specific goals to show what “writing more” looks like.  The only thing I did not finish last year was to finish my children’s novel.  I am giving myself to Chinese New Year’s though, so I could still make it.  (see what I did there?)

Writing Goals for 2013:

  • Submit writing, short stories, essays, etc to four contests or other publications.
  • Finish children’s novel, which is almost done and hanging in limbo.
  • Write, finish, edit 12 personal essays.
  • Blog on both writing blog and weight loss blog 4 or more times a week.
  • Begin editing children’s novel and submit to my writer’s group for review and revision.
  • Join SCBWI and attend one of their conferences.

Lofty, I know, but I have to set lofty goals to guilt myself into doing something about it.

Current Writing Projects

A couple of the girls in my writer’s group formed a separate group that is dedicated to personal essays and/or creative nonfiction.  I have been attending that group as well.  Because the group is small, about seven of us I think, we are much more demanding about making each other submit their work.  As a result, I have written several personal essays and semi-true short stories.  I also have many more ideas on future personal essays.  I would like to put together a collection of essays.  I am not sure if I will turn it into a book or not, but I first want to get them together and see what I have.

I plan to dedicate my next post to the book review of The Bubble Gum Thief.  I will also post my review on Amazon.

That is pretty much what I have been up to.  I hope to spend more time on this blog and sharing all of my writing ups and downs throughout the year!  Happy writing in 2013!


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A few months ago, I submitted a short story to Glimmer Train for their “Family Issues” contest.  For this contest, I took an actual family event from my own life and I created fictional characters, changed a couple of things, and wrote a short story.  I never heard from Glimmer Train and I apparently did not win.  I was disappointed, of course, but rejection is part of the writing process.

I had my memoir writing group look at the story, but not before I had a chance to submit it to the contest.  They gave me great feedback.  They loved the dialogue, enjoyed the interaction between the two kids in the story, but they thought the emotion at the end of the story needed to have a bigger punch.  There were a couple of other comments, but pretty good feedback overall.

I then submitted it to the Arlington Writer’s Group.  I have been with AWG for a couple of  years now.  AWG is a very large writers group.  Almost 200 members, and we can get 30 people plus at any given meeting.  Receiving feedback can sometimes be overwhelming and the conversations can very easily veer off course.

We have worked very hard over the years too keep the feedback process focused and make sure people give a useful critique.  That can be a daunting task for whomever is leading the group when you have 30 or so people giving their opinions. 

I have to say, I’m very lucky with both of my writers groups.  Wonderfully thoughtful people in both groups.

So, last night I had my story critiqued by AWG.  I don’t want to describe it too much as I want to try to get te story published.  Basically, it is a story about one girl’s broken dreams.

Just like my other writers group, AWGers liked the dialogue, the interaction, between the sisters, and the story overall.  But they did pick out some major holes in my plot and made great suggestions.  I have a lot of work to do, but I think the story will be a lot better once I’m done. Then I can enter it into a couple more contests.

On another note, this is what my day has been like.  Everything I do seems to run into some kind of complication.  It’s really too bad too because I would have enjoyed discovering alternate uses for lederhosen while I wait for train schedules to appear on my screen.

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I have been doing a lot of writing recently, which is part of the reason I have not blogged quite as much.  I submitted a short story to the Washington Post Humor contest and I have written another short story.  I have also been working on my children’s novel.

One of my goals was to finish the first draft of my children’s novel before my surgery.  Well, the date for my surgery has now been set for September 26, 2012.  That is a tentative date pending final approval from the insurance company and pending the other stuff I need to get done before surgery (surgery related stuff…not writing goals).

I am mostly done with the first draft, which is good because I only have a month to get that done.  After surgery, I am going to do a complete read through and take notes.  Then the editing process will begin.  Once I’m recovered from surgery, I will be heading up to New Castle, PA to get pictures of the park I use in the novel.

I am excited about finishing the first draft.  It will be good to have that done.  It has been a bit more difficult to write than I thought it would.  Also, there were some changes from the original vision I had for the novel, but I think those ideas only made it better. 

Right now it’s crap and kind of all over the place.  But after I do the editing and more editing and even more editing, I’m sure it will be a little better.   🙂

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So, yes…more public pressure and possible public humiliation if I sit on my butt and do nothing…

A few months ago I attempted to start a youth novel about Gwendolyn and the dragon of New Castle (during my failed attempt at nanowrimo…note to self…do not try month long crazy writing project during audit at work).  I had a big burst of writing energy; chapters, outlines, character sketches, etc written.  I made quite a bit of progress.

Then holidays happened.  Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years and my focus on writing was rerouted.  I have continued working on the story, but progress is slow.  If I am going to finish this little project of mine, I must refocus.

I have changed some of story from its initial spawning.  This is a good thing.  I had a friend of mine read the outline and I explained a lot of the plot and he pointed out a few plot holes.  So, we brain stormed for a bit and came up with a couple of new ideas that should make it a little more interesting.

I am also not writing in sequential order.  I wrote some of the action scenes out that take place later in the book shortly after I wrote the first chapter.  Now that the outline is fleshed out a little more, I went back and wrote chapters 2 and 3 and today I am moving onto chapter 4.

I am having fun writing the story.  It is not too terribly serious.  It involves a lot of imagination, a little bit of magic, an evil witch, and of course a dragon.

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I begin each day with lofty writing goals. 

“Today, I will find the time to write that chapter…jot down notes on that scene that’s been gnawing in the corner of my mind…one page at least!”

“I will get up early…write late into the night…sneak a moment during my lunch…all day saturday…I promise!”

Nonetheless, each day, I have a hundred things that prevents my writing.

I overslept…skipped lunch…stuck at work late…happy hour…emergency weekend lunches/dinners with friends to complain about how absolutely busy I am…dishes…laundry…how did Inot notice how dusty those blinds were…just look at those dust bunnies under my bed…where does the time go?

The reality is, all writers are busy.  Yet, there are the special few who somehow manage to write and publish their work.  So, what is the difference between them and the rest of us too busy organizing our perfume samples to write?

 Focus.  Determination.  Discipline. 

Call it what you will, but it is possible to stay on target and write.  Maybe not write the great American novel, but at least complete something.

The most successful writers generally set a daily writing goal for themselves.  Some use a block of time, others a word limit. 

I use public humiliation.  I publicly state my goals, on this blog for instance.  Also, I stated them at my writer’s group. 

So far this year, I’m on target.  I have been working on my novel.  I’ve already written another chapter since the beginning of the year.  I promised two blog posts a week.  So far not bad.  And I promised to write and upload short stories to my writers group.  Well, I have not written another short story, but I did upload a new one from the end of last year to the meetup site.

I feel pretty good about my goals so far, but January’s not over yet.  Ask me again in April.

How do you stay focused?

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Hurricane, Schmurricane! 

This area is supposed to get hammered with 100mph winds, rain and thunderstorms.  I am hoping I do not lose electricity.  My laptop is fully charged and ready to go if I do.  So, if I do lose electricity, I can get a bit of writing done.  Because there won’t be much else to do apart from sitting in the walk-in closet between my bedroom and bathroom.

I have food, flashlights, candles, matches, ice and a nice bottle of wine.  I am set!

Oh yeah! Goals…I think I am only going to work on novel this weekend.  No more short stories rolling around in my head right now.  Plus, I really  need to just finish this.

Cheers everyone and stay safe!

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