Monday, December 29, 2014

Writer's Procrastination

December twenty-ninth.

The last time I worked on anything was December eighth...when I edited the first half or so of my fifteen page memoir piece, London. I left off right before recreating a conversation with an abusive boyfriend, and I planned on writing it today. But, as I face the page, I just really don't wanna!

All month, when I come to my "office" to write, I first take care of business. Which is great - needs to be done - massage clients notes, billing, budget updating, newsletter writing, social media posting (the biggest time drain of all, amirite?) etc. By the time I've cleared all that, I usually don't have enough time to really get into writing or editing anything creative. Not good news!

Rather than sit here and tell you all the ways I have mastered the art of procrastination, I am going to take a look at some possible reasons WHY I have been putting off the thing that I love. Perhaps, you will see yourself in some of these? Let me know in the comments.

  1. I don't wanna. It is not fun to dredge up the past, which is pretty much a requirement for memoir writing. At the point I am at, now, I need to recreate a conversation. It was a pleasant conversation, about getting to know a new boyfriend, before he went all evil on me. I just...cringe at the thought of getting back into that headspace, even though it was like twenty-five years ago. I am going to have to, eventually, if I want to finish this piece, which I do. I really do. So, I must let that be my motivation, I think. 
  2. New draft. "Hey, how's that novel?" excited friends ask. "I have to start the sixth draft," I've been saying for the past six or seven months. But, I still haven't started it. It's not even that high a number - six - I am sure most published novels hit ten, twelve, twenty drafts before they are "done," but I am still dreading the work. But, I am also excited about it, so why the delay, self? I have ideas to implement, a waiting editor to help with revisions, yet I procrastinate, still.
  3. I have other, newer ideas... I have promised myself to begin other projects AFTER I have finished the ones on my plate. It's like veggies before dessert, right? Especially since that has been my tendency forever - abandon one project to start the shiny new one. I have been great at working past that the past few years, but I seem to be stalling,
  4. Writing is hard. Sure, I love it. I am a creative, expressive person that thrives under pressure and needs an outlet. My head is constantly filled with ideas, what if's, and quirky characters to play with. But, let's face it, writing isn't easy. If it was, everyone would do it, the saying goes. Sometimes, I am at a loss, halfway through, as to what the hell is going on or where the story is headed. Sometimes, that part comes pretty easily, but then I struggle with editing. Killing off characters, clarifying character motivation, deleting scenes that don't forward the plot... and, in memoir, it is a completely different kind of hard. I have to re-inhabit the person I was in the past; re-identify with my younger self's  perspective, beliefs, experience, and expectations. I am essentially time-travelling to be with the people that hurt me, the people and events that changed me, and made me who I am today. Rewarding, yes, but not easy. I've always had difficulty with emotions, which is one of the reasons I have incorporated memoir into my writing life, to help me connect and relate and convey those emotions that we all experience in life. But, it ain't easy being green. 
  5. I don't manage my time well. I live the way I want, for the most part, on my own schedule, but since I don't think I'm ever gonna get that Magic Stopwatch I want, I would really like to reorganize my time more efficiently. For instance, I generally go to bed around 5 or 6 am. I sleep until I have to get up for work or some other appointment - it may be ten-thirty, it may be one pm, it might not be until four. I get up, go do whatever it is I need to do, grab dinner and come home. My husband goes to bed early, so we may have an hour to eat and watch TV, or he may already be in bed when I get home, depending on the day. My schedule varies. I value my alone time - from nine or ten at night until I go to sleep - and usually watch NetFlix/TV, read books, interact on social media, play word games on my phone, take baths, meditate, go for midnight walks when the weather allows, etc. etc. It is important to have that down time, which isn't always down, since I do a lot of inner work and brainstorming at night. But I don't write at night much anymore, since I don't have a good physical set up for it, and the cats want to occupy my lap incessantly. I am considering getting a new desk.

    Through years of NaNoWriMo, I have developed a pretty good routine for regular writing. I can do it in twenty-minute bursts, though I prefer ninety or one-twenty, and I always have my laptop with me. 
What about you? How do you put off writing and editing? Or do you? Do you know why? Please share your experiences... and any tips!

Monday, December 22, 2014

2015 New Year's Resolutions

Yep, it's that time, again. Hard to believe the past twelve months have just flown by... bring on 2015!

This year, I dropped a part-time massage job of fourteen years, so that my income comes solely from my private practice of massage therapy, and I have more time to rest and work on writing. That was the biggest change for me. I have continued to do my personal growth work, and have reached out to many of my friends to work harder to maintain those connections. I've made some effort at keeping up with regular exercise, but not to the desired level or effect. I've rewritten my zombie novel twice, but still need to do more. I've begun the work of memoir writing, which has been challenging and rewarding. 

Here is my plan for 2015. It starts with my writing goals, then spans the rest of my life.
  1. Write that sixth draft of HISMZA. Get it out there!
  2. Continue writing the memoir essays. 
  3. Get the London piece published.
  4. Enter the NYC Midnight contest.
  5. Enter the PNWA contest.
  6. Consider my goals and expectations around my author identity. 
  7. Learn how to properly use Scrivener.
  8. Continue to work towards an organized home, with focus on that Spare Room.
  9. Regular exercise - carried over from 2014, lose .5 - 2 lbs per week. 
  10. Research investments and begin a plan for retirement.
  11. Increase my PIP claim clients to four per month, with a goal of six per month.
  12. Become an L&I Provider.
  13. Take care of lapsed health issues. 
  14. Clear my old netbook of my stuff and give it to my friend that wants it.
  15. Go to Paris in May.
  16. Read 40 books.
  17. Get new tires.
Okay, that last one should be done now, but it's not going to be. January, for sure!

How Did I Do? 2014 Resolutions

Last January, I posted the following resolutions for the year. Here's the outcome:

  1. Finish Fourth (and hopefully final?) Draft of HISMZA novel.
    Check. Did fifth draft, too.
  2. Finish First Draft of "The Sound of Sorrow's Sleep" novel.
  3. Compete in NYCMidnight's Short Story Competition (already entered!).
    Check. Made First Round Honorable Mentions.
  4. Compete in at least one other contest (probably Lorian Hemingway's, again. Also Seattle Crypticon, and PNWA contests).
    Check. Entered three for PNWA. (Didn't place.)
  5. Read 30 books, at least six of which have come out in 2014 (I've realized that I am way behind on my reading list and rarely read anything current!).
    Check...although, I think I only read 1 or 2 2013 publications. I read 37 books, total!
Just for kicks, here are some of my non-writing goals for 2014:

  1. Organize cluttered home and Spare Room. (A carry-over for years, sadly...)
    Did some work on it, but still have to carry it over into the new year. Sigh...
  2. Take at least two dance/exercise classes per week (Already signed up for Bar Method on Fridays and Punk Rock Aerobics on Tuesdays, and have been to each).
    No...I gave this up due to a change in my work situation. 
  3. Use my FitBit to track sleep and steps. Improve regular sleeping patterns... Sleep 1am/2am - 9am/10am! Hit 10K steps at least 3 times a week. Lose .5 - 2 lbs. per week/25 lbs. per year.
    Well...I did use my FitBit to track stuff. I walked regularly for most of the year, but failed to lose the weight.
  4. Work on Alternative Business Women's Association idea.
    Yeah... I put this one on hold, as well, because of my work changes.
  5. Help Veronica buy the property and increase profits for Standing Stone Healing & Arts.
    This became a moot point. 
  6. Maintain friendships: Contact at least one friend per month that I haven't been in touch with regularly.
    I tried to keep up on this one, pretty well. Didn't track it, but made efforts to keep in touch.
  7. Travel to Tampa, Florida, to visit Mom & Dad's new home.
    Yup! Florida was great. 
  8. Travel to Tokyo, if possible. Or Paris, France. It's been way too long for each of them.
    Nope, this one didn't happen.
  9. Continue brushing up on language skills: Use apps for Japanese, Italian, and French. Find a class or group to join to increase skills.
    Meh...not so much.
  10. Get new laptop! Probably MS Surface.
    Yes, ha! Got a MS Surface Pro as a gift, so, done!
  11. Continue my work on my financial life and plan.
    Yes! Definitely did a ton of work in this area. On track!
  12. Increase my massage therapy work in PIP claims (car accident clients).
    Yes, I did. I kept the two PIP claims a month that I set out to have.
Okay, so 9 out of 17, with 2 halfways...not too bad!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

NaNoWriMo 2014 - After the Fact

There are always excuses for not writing enough, and I love the impetus that NaNoWriMo gives me every year to push past them - the online community, the word count update bar, the graphs, the word sprints, the friendly competition, the momentum that lives in the ether from millions of participants writing around the clock.... all great stuff.

This year, these were the obstacles I faced, in hitting my daily word count:

  1. Got a new computer (yay) as a gift, on OCTOBER 30th. Had to figure out a new OS, install a ton of lengthy updates to bring the thing up to current par, re-install programs, files, etc. Spent several sessions at the Microsoft Store resolving issues. 
  2. Got a new word program. I bought Scrivener! I didn't realize I could have saved half the price with a NaNo discount - derp. I like it! But, I'm still figuring out how to use it properly, LOL. I spent a lot of time looking for files and figuring things out. After a week, I gave up (temporarily) and installed my old Atlantis program to finish the NaNo project with. 
  3. Work.  This isn't much of an excuse, there's always work, but I seemed particularly bogged down with details at work this month. My client load was up and down, but there was a ton of paperwork and stuff, throughout the month.
  4. Social obligations. Again, nothing to complain about, but it ate up some writing time. Had a friend in from out of town for a performance, so I went to her concert and the dinner party the following day, as well. Had some other things come up, too; some fun, some helping others, all during writing time blocks.
That said, I did hit the Halfway Mark on Saturday, Nov 29th. And I am good with that. 

I thought about cranking out twelve hours of writing on Sunday the 30th to get to 50,000, but decided I just didn't want to. I might spend all day trying, not hit it anyway, and feel worse. Instead, I took a client before her Monday trip out of town and made some money. Then I worked on a different project I've had on the burner and finished a good section of that. Then I did some other budget stuff and things I needed to get done, so the day felt productive. 

So, I didn't "win" the goodies at NaNoWriMo, but I have 25,000 words of a story that I didn't have last month. I can work with that.

How about anyone else? Did you participate? How'd you do? 

A Conservative Fly in the Ointment, Part 2

Several months ago, I posted about a member that was causing quite a stir within my writer's group. (Read that post here) I worried over how to deal with it without causing harm to my personal ideals, the members of my group, and the 'offender', himself.

Then, he didn't come for many months, so I never approached him about the issues, beyond what had been said in the group at the time of his last reading.

Recently, he informed me that he was out of town through the winter, which leads me to believe he plans to return to the group. So, I sent him the following message:

"Hope you are having a good trip - out of the country, you say? Exciting! 

I have to let you know, the writers group is definitely interested in reviewing CREATIVE writing of all kinds, but every time there has been a member bringing more political writing, the response has been frustrating. We cannot spend time debating political and religious content of these kinds of pieces (not just yours, there was also a liberal non-fic writer who has brought pieces in the past, although I must admit the two of you are the rare exceptions to the type of writing we usually critique). It's nothing personal, and I wish you luck with your work, but for future meetups, please only bring creative writing - this includes fiction, narrative non-fiction, poetry, screenplays, etc. 

Perhaps there is a political debate group that might suit your needs? Or possibly you could find people within the Toastmasters organization to meet with for help with hashing out ideas and writing critique? 

I appreciate your participation in the group, and wish you the best. I hope there are no hard feelings, and if you do write something in the creative style, please come join us."

I know, some members would like to just never have in the group again, but I'm not sure I'm comfortable expelling him. If he should write something that fits with the very broad spectrum of our focus on writing, he should be able to attend, in my opinion. Then again, there's the whole comfort-level issue of the other members....

It's not like my group is a closed group. It is open, and we have new people come and go all the time, in addition to regular attendees. Even the regulars - the core group - changes from year to year, slowly morphing with add-ins and drop-offs.

It's not easy being in charge, LOL. But I wanted to post the update, and say that I did step up and address it.

Thoughts are welcome!