Sunday, 25 August 2013

Rolling along nicely

High Five!
High Five!

Goals from last week:
  • Leave encouraging comments on 5 ROW80 blogs - Done. :)
  • Finish reading and write up reviews for Jodi Henley's Practical Emotional Structure and Elizabeth Greentree's 5 Day Writer's Retreat - I finished the 5 Days Writer's Retreat (excellent resource!!!). I now have to put my notes together to write the review for Smashwords and Amazon. Then I'm going to concentrate on Practical Emotional Structure.
  • Wind down and relax before bed at least four times this week - Done. Woo hoo!
  • Go offline by 10pm at the latest - Er, no. I overdid things this week, and adrenal exhaustion set in which threw my sleep patterns out of whack. And the need for some physical and auditory space meant I stayed up long after my husband and little boy were in bed. I got the space I craved, but at the expense of sleep. I need to do something about this.
  • Go to bed by 11pm - No.
  • Keep a list of all the things I achieve in the week (so I can remember them!) - Yes. And this is an excellent way to feel cheerful about your past week when you look over it on a Sunday morning. :D
  • Write in library for 1 hour three times a week (Mon, Wed and Fri works out really well) - Yes. Monday, Wednesday and Saturday morning.
  • Work through my fear of it and write the rough draft of the first scene - Yes. My rough draft actually consists of bullet points of what I want the scene to achieve and what I want to include. I like bullet points. :)

Other achievements this week:
  • Parenting:
    • I baked a new recipe - Lemon and Chia Seed muffins - for our Little Gardeners group on Tuesday morning, using the lemons from their garden;
    • I brought Little Guy to a new class, Music and Movement, to see if he liked it. He enjoyed the music and movement part, but the free play after morning tea was quite obviously his favourite bit;
  • Writing:
    • Sorted out my female protagonist's inner need/flaw/conflict; 
    • Worked out how the inner needs of both my protagonists make them a good match for one another. (Jodi Henley's podcast - included in my post below - was the impetus for this work.);
    • Rediscovered the value of 'sleeping on it' - this is something touched upon in Elizabeth Greentree's "5 Day Writer's Retreat" - which involves writing from the hypnogogic state, that time between starting to fall asleep and sleeping, or between being asleep and waking up.
    • Researched articles on internal conflict and flaws, beliefs, values.
    • Did some superficial edits (typos etc.) of another four scenes of my gothic novella;
    • Started reading a craft book on "Breathing Life into your Characters" by Rachel Ballon (affiliate link);
    • I am beginning to get a clearer picture of my writing process and this is something I'll write a post on later. Suffice it to say, most of the writing and publishing articles I've read over the past few years have hindered me more than they helped;
    • Revised and edited a few more paragraphs of my non-fiction Celts ebook and double checked that something I'd included in the first edition was definitely in the public domain. I also came up with one more topic to write on and add to this edition;
    • Discovered a new writing exercise to develop a character in Les Edgerton's ebook "Voice". It involves describing a setting you, the writer, are in but from your character's point of view. Like acting. You become your character and describe the location you are currently in using their words and perceptions. Fun!
  • Volunteer Work:
    • I spent about an hour and a half working on a website that I've volunteered to assist with. I updated the content on the Events page and added some appropriate images. I enjoyed the work very much, but having a better knowledge of HTML would be a benefit. There are some great tutorials on w3.schools.com. 
All in all, it's been a very productive week. :)

Check out the other ROW80 blogs here.
Update: I completely forgot to list my goals for the coming week, so here we go:
  • Three one-hour writing sessions in the library;
  • Revise three sections of my Celts wip;
  • Read Jodi Henley's Practical Emotional Structure and write and post the review;
  • Leave comments on 5 ROW80 blogs;
  • Lie semi-supine for 15 minutes before bed at least four times during the week:
  • Go offline by 10pm at the latest;
  • Be in bed by 11pm;
  • Keep a list of all my achievements during the week.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Pleased with the results

Writing Achievements:
  • Wrote during three one-hour sessions in the library last week. Monday, Wednesday and Saturday morning
  • Using the writing exercises from The Accidental Novelist, I have discovered my opening scene and what exactly my heroine is planning to do - and I'm excited about it. It was a very, very productive week. (If you click on the link, you'll go to the old blog and the exercises are in the sidebar under the heading "Start to Finish - What is it?")
Reading Achievements:
  • Finished Into the Bermuda Triangle: Pursuing the Truth Behind the World's Greatest Mystery by Gian Quasar. It's full of fascinating theories and ideas that sparked off a whole lot of What Ifs in my mind as a result. Plus I learned something about how the age of the world is calculated (Charles Lyell and his support of the principle of Uniformitarianism) and why Uniformitarianism may not lead to completely accurate estimates
  • Started Raven Flight by Juliet Marillier - I absolutely love and adore her books. Her name on the cover is enough for me to buy. Magical realism, interesting characters with real problems to overcome, huge stakes, romance... yeah. Great reading.
Parenting Achievements:
  • Bought a bag of compost with Little Guy so that we can put some wicking containers together for herb and vegetable seeds that we're going to plant
  • Completely forgot about the sheep craft activity until Wednesday night (playgroup is Thursday morning) so I frantically read through some internet resources looking for an activity that wouldn't take me ages to organise and set up the next day. Found a cute finger painting activity using black and white paint on green paper. Easy peasy. Phew!
Here's my example:



And here's Little Guy's work:



Relaxation Achievements:
  • Lay semi-supine on the floor two or three nights this week. Not as many as I'd have liked, so I need to work on that
  • Got to bed by 11pm on a few nights. Need to work on this too.
  • Had a wonderful time at the Community Fire last night. Speaking with others who also struggle with daily grind and how they cope has given me one or two ideas to add to my arsenal so I'll be working on that this week. Getting to talk with other people on a deeper level than the superficial day-to-day exchanges is a breath of fresh air, and I was still on a high when I woke up this morning. :)
How I did with my Goals from last week
  • Check in with 5 other ROWers - done
  • Three one-hour writing sessions in the library and continue to explore my story and my characters with the help of the writing exercises - done! And an opening scene roughly outlined as a result
  • Wind down and relax (meditate) before bed at least four times this week - no, did it only about two or three times. I'll have to keep working on this
  • Tidy up at least four more scenes of the gothic novella to ready it for printing - nope...
  • Prepare some fun alphabet activities for Little Guy and do them on three days this week - yes, and we did the activity every day 'cos he enjoyed it so much
  • Put together a sheep craft activity for the toddlers in our playgrou - yes
  • Keep a list of all the things I achieve in the week so I can focus on those and not feel disappointed about what I don't get done - no, I didn't do this. I meant to, and then forgot. Ho hum. There's probably way more stuff I've done this week, but I just can't remember it...

Goals for next week:
  • Leave encouraging comments on 5 ROW80 blogs
  • Finish reading and write up reviews for Jodi Henley's Practical Emotional Structure and Elizabeth Greentree's 5 Day Writer's Retreat;
  • Wind down and relax before bed at least four times this week;
  • Go offline by 10pm at the latest;
  • Go to bed by 11pm;
  • Keep a list of all the things I achieve in the week (so I can remember them!);
  • Write in library for 1 hour three times a week (Mon, Wed and Fri works out really well);
  • Work through my fear of it and write the rough draft of the first scene;
I've just listened to the latest podcast from Jodi Henley on backstory and internal conflict (and how to find the need in two protagonists which draws them together):

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Listing the little achievements!


Ok. So I could drive myself insane listing everything I didn't manage to get done this week. Instead I'm going to list everything I did get done.



Ahem.






What I achieved this week: (Definitely deserves a large heading!)
  • Made a weather chart for my little guy - that's it above;
  • Wrote in the library twice this week for an hour each time. The writing exercises are helping me to get to know my characters much better and revealing numerous possibilites for conflict;
  • Had a playdate with another mum and her toddler at our place.Very much enjoyed it;
  • Entertained some friends (plus toddler and baby) Sunday afternoon. Again, we all enjoyed ourselves;
  • Read and finished a Lord Peter Wimsey murder mystery, "Strong Poison". Miss Climpson's appearance and detective work was a howl. :)
  • Managed to lie semi-supine on the floor (a la The Alexander Technique) twice this week while listening to Laura Silva's short relaxation meditation;
  • Left comments on at least 5 ROW80 blog;
  • Read up on some homeschooling articles;
  • Tried out a new recipe for a delicious crust on a roast beef; mustard, salt, pepper, dried taragon and some olive oil if you think it needs it. Cook on a high heat (230 degrees celsius) uncovered for about 15 minutes, then turn oven down to about 190 degrees, and cook covered in tin foil until done;
  • Tried a new recipe for Rooibos Chai Tea (delish!);
  • Did simple edits (mostly typos) on four scenes of the gothic novella I wrote back in 2008. I loaded it into Scrivener and I'm getting it ready to print it off so I can go through it properly and start revisions;
  • Read a couple of online articles on how to create ebooks using html so that they'll show up correctly in the vast majority of ereaders
  • Went through my non-fiction writer's resource on the Celts which I'm thinking of self-publishing. There's a great deal of work involved to get it from its original layout (for Holly Lisle's now-defunct 33 Mistakes series) to my current vision for it;
  • Bought and downloaded print and ebook templates from BookDesignTemplates.com for the Celts ebook
  • Read an article (via email subscription) on writing down goals and SMART goals. I went looking for a worksheet (I just LOVE worksheets) to help me and this looks to be a good one. 
Goals for this coming week:
  • Check in with 5 other ROWers;
  • Three one-hour writing sessions in the library and continue to explore my story and my characters with the help of the writing exercises;
  • Wind down and relax (meditate) before bed at least four times this week;
  • Tidy up at least four more scenes of the gothic novella to ready it for printing;
  • Prepare some fun alphabet activities for Little Guy and do them on three days this week;
  • Put together a sheep craft activity for the toddlers in our playgroup;
  • Keep a list of all the things I achieve in the week so I can focus on those and not feel disappointed about what I don't get done.
And that's all I can think of for now. I'm off to check in with my fellow ROWers.



Monday, 5 August 2013

Personality, Work Habits & Change

I've been thinking a lot about WHY it's been so hard to get the writing done. I can write. I have written. I finished and won two Camp NaNos. "So why, in between times, can't I just get the WIP written?" I asked myself.

The answer boiled down to my personality and how I like to write.

Writing for 15 minutes a day is good advice. 15 minutes a day is better than 0 minutes a day.

But 15 minutes a day is just time enough for me to make notes, jot down ideas. It's not long enough for me to do any "proper" writing.

That's because of my personality and the way I like to work. I don't like skimming the surface of things. I like to dive deep, explore, question, and sift through material (mentally and on paper) while I'm writing. One idea will lead to another. One sentence - maybe even only one word - will set me on fire and then my scene gathers momentum and takes off in a direction that my logical mind could NEVER have foreseen or come up with.

I need time to warm up my writing muscles and ready myself for the rockets and fireworks that will follow and I need the time to get it all down on paper.

This week I knew I had two choices. I could either resign myself to the fact that I would only have a few minutes here and there to make notes, or I would have to make some changes in my day that allowed me to have an hour of uninterrupted writing time. I liked Option No 2 better. And then I thought, "Hey, dream BIG! How can I organise things so that I have both options?"

I spoke to my husband and we agreed that having an hour's writing time in the local library was doable. He said Go for it. So I did.

I spent two days last week in the library for one hour doing writing exercises.  It was pure pleasure from start to finish. I discovered some crucial backstory in one session and I discovered the means to foreshadow a very important development in my protagonist and I wrote REAMS!

In case you're interested, the writing exercises I used are the Start to Finish exercises by the Accidental Novelist on her old blog. (If you look about half way down the blue sidebar on the right hand side you'll see the heading Start to Finish and the list of posts beneath). The exercises aim to help screenwriters develop a screenplay in about three months or so - but the exercises can also be used by novelists because they're all about discovering the story you want to tell.

Here's my weekly update:

Writing Goals:

1. Meditate before each writing session - This is next to nigh impossible in the library, so I'm changing this one to meditate daily

2. Work on my novel for at least 15 minutes each day - I'm changing this one to writing for an hour at least three days a week

3. Check in with ROW80 and leave comments on at least 5 other ROW80 blogs - Very doable. And done.

Non-Writing Goals:

4. Create a new habit of getting to bed by 11pm at the latest every night - Tick

5. Find a way to have some down-time each day - Having one hour in the library three tines a week qualifies, so I just need to come up with a plan for the other four days

6. Practice one technique a week from "Just One Thing" by Rick Hanson - I'm still working on the second technique. This week I was a bit more distracted; I feel I need to meditate every day just to that I have the calm and centred awareness to remember to practice the techniques.

I found a really nice (and f*r*e*e*) resource online by Laura Silva. They're meditations to help you relax and to promote healing.


All in all, a good week. Much better than I've been doing for a while. :)