Stephanie Nickel

Try Something New by Stephanie Nickel

Twenty-fourteen has definitely brought some brand new challenges my way. The book I co-authored is now available. We’ve had our first book launch and the second is set for the last weekend of April. I also decided to pack up my gear and head for Camp NaNoWriMo. It’s the first time I’ve ever attempted anything like this . . . and the first time I’ve hit the 10,000 word mark in my novel. (It needs a lot of work, but hey, I won’t have anything to work with if I don’t finish my first draft.)

It’s great to edit for several different clients. The work is always new. It’s pretty hard to get bored. This is a built-in way for me to always be working with something fresh—even if I’m doing the same thing.

One of my goals is to get my children’s picture books into the hands of agents and publishers. Because I’m writing for the preschool crowd, each manuscript has a limited number of words. Of course, that doesn’t mean they’re easy to fire off, but I should be able to get several written while working on my novel. Perseverance needs to be my theme in this area—and in others.

I’ve gotten away from writing poems. I think I will get back to it. If I write one poem, one book review, and repost the fitness blog I write for Kimberley Payne, I will hit my goal for posts for Steph Nickel’s Eclectic Interests each week.

And sadly, one thing I need to do that is “new” is get back to reading. It’s so easy to veg in front of the TV instead of picking up one of the many books that are calling my name.

If you’re looking for something new to try this round, why not choose from the following list?

1. Choose an age group you don’t normally write for and write a short story or article directed at them.

2. If poetry’s not your thing, look up different poetic forms and dive in.

3. Pop over to YouTube and choose a musical style you wouldn’t normally listen to. Use it as a springboard for a freewriting session. Who knows? You might stumble upon inspiration for a new piece—maybe even a new book.

4. And speaking of songs . . . Choose a familiar tune and write new words just for fun. (If you want to share it, keep in mind copyright restrictions.)

5. Choose a movie or an episode of a TV show and write a new ending.

6. If you’re looking to guest post, feel free to get in touch (stephbethnickel@gmail.com). I’m always looking for guest bloggers.

So, how about you? Are you shooting for something new this round? If so, what are you working on?

~*~

Stephanie Nickel

12 Tips For Having A Great ROW Round by Stephanie Nickel

  1. Post doable goals. Some ROWers post only a handful of goals and focus on them throughout the round. Personally, I love lists, so my goals are extensive. (That said . . . I don’t mind bumping incomplete goals to the next week—or even the next round—as necessary.)
  2. Don’t be afraid to change your goals as needed. After all, A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that does acknowledge life happens.
  3. Check-in regularly. We love to know how things are going and how we can best encourage you.
  4. And speaking of encouragement, even if you aren’t a sponsor, pop by other sites and see how your fellow ROWers are doing.
  5. We can all learn from one another, so take the time to not only read but comment on a number of posts published by others. You just might make some new friends.
  6. Researching. Editing. Submitting to agents and publishers. Reading (especially skills development books). They’re all important, but this is a writers’ challenge, so don’t forget to set aside time for writing. As we all know, it’s too easy to let it slip.
  7. Include “writing” on your daily agenda. Make an appointment with yourself and keep it. (Make sure it’s written in ink.) Even if you can’t write as long as you would like, making it a daily habit will help keep the creativity flowing.
  8. Keep a book of writing prompts by your desk. If writer’s block comes calling, take the book off the shelf, open it to a random page, and just start writing.
  9. If you like to tweet, don’t forget the #ROW80 hashtag. See what your fellow Twitter-loving ROWers are doing.
  10. Some of us hang out on Facebook. Come join us.
  11. If increased fitness is on the agenda, we’d love to have you join us on Facebook at ROW80 Fitness.
  12. Setting a daily word count can help a lot. I know it keeps NaNoWriMo participants on target. All the best for those who will sign on this year. One of these years, I’ll actually join you.

~*~

Stephanie Nickel

We Can Do This by Stephanie Nickel

I thought I’d write a poem for you,

Something brief to get you through

Those days when all seems strange and dim,

Thoughts evade, ideas slim.

The cursor taunts you from the screen,

The page all shiny, bright and clean,

The words aren’t coming; that is clear,

The dreaded nightmare causes fear.

Will I ever write again?

Pencil, marker, crayon, pen?

Grab a sandwich or a walk,

Call a friend to talk and talk,

Plant a garden, sing a song,

Take a break, but don’t break long.

For words are buried deep inside,

Set them loose: free, untied,

With the cobwebs blown away,

You can write most every day.

We can do this; yes, we can,

Young or old, woman, man,

And on our journey, we will go,

Come on fellow ROWers, row!

~*~

Stephanie Nickel

Facing Challenges by Stephanie Nickel

If you follow my check-ins over at Steph Nickel’s Eclectic Interests, you’ll know my interests and endeavours are all over the map.

 

This past weekend I attended a Childbirth and Postpartum Professionals conference. As you may know, I am a recently certified labour doula and have signed up for the Pregnancy Fitness Educator course. At one point I considered midwifery. One thing led to another, and now I’m on a parallel path.

 

Family is incredibly important to me and I realize more than ever that I have to make spending time with them a priority. My hubby was able to join me and we added a couple of vacation days to the time in Ottawa. I’m glad for the time I can spend with our two kids who still live at home and the FB chats I have with Son #2. It isn’t as easy to spend time with family who live far away, however, but I look forward to seeing a number of them at Christmas time.

 

Life is challenging for all of us and finding that balance between our writing and all the other areas of our lives can seem overwhelming.

 

For those of us who aren’t full-time writers, we have to steal those moments – and maybe even an hour here and there – to pursue this facet of who we are. I find entering online challenges keeps me plugging away. I signed on for OctPoWriMo and have written 28 of the 31 poems I promised myself and my fellow poets I’d pump out this month. (Thankfully, they don’t have to be spectacular literary pieces – or even “good.” Whew!)

 

If you follow my blog, you might have noticed that I signed up for PiBoIdMo again this year. The object: come up with 30 children’s picture book ideas before the end of November. Writing picture books is one of my I-hope-to-do-it-someday goals.

 

Many of you already know the benefits of accepting a writing challenge. Does the phrase NaNoWriMo mean anything to you? (grin) One year, I’ll jump onboard – Lord willin’ and the crik don’t rise, that is. (I guess I shouldn’t kid around about the crik risin’ with Hurricane Sandy having its way with several communities. We’ve only had a little rain and some gusty winds. Okay, so while I was re-reading this, the wind started to pick up. I’m very thankful for a warm, dry home in which to take refuge.)

 

So, my fellow ROWers, dive into NaNoWriMo, sign up for PiBoIdMo, or scout out another challenge better suited to your interests and your writing style. I’m sure there are countless writing challenges floating around cyberspace.

 

And if you don’t want to commit to anything formally, well, you always have ROW80. That’s really what we do when we declare our goals and put them out there for the world to see. We’re challenging ourselves and inspiring others to commit to this craziness called writing.

 

Our dreams and aspirations are as varied as we are. Our motivation – to use a cliché – extends from the ridiculous to the sublime. I look forward to meeting even more of you as the final round of 2012 continues.

 

Happy Writing!

~*~

Stephanie Nickel

When Writing Is A Juggling Act by Stephanie Nickel

Some of us here at A Round of Words are full-time writers. Others, however, have to fit their writing into an already full schedule. Just how can we do that?

Here are a dozen ideas that may help:

1. Set manageable goals. Supposedly, we’ve already done that. If we find out along the way that we have to revise those goals, we should do so without feeling guilty or defeated. Remember this is “the writing challenge that knows you have a life.”

2. This may seem like I’m adding more work to your already lengthy To Do list. However, I like to make a Priority List from time to time. Who and what are the most important things in your life? What do you absolutely positively have to do (your day job, for instance)? Then, honestly evaluate when you are going to work on your ROW goals without driving yourself and those around you completely bonkers.

3. When we take on new challenges, something usually has to give. I once heard a wise woman say every time she took on something new, she let something else go. Now, that’s worth considering.

4. While writing is real work and sometimes requires a sit-your-butt-in-the-chair-and-write attitude, we all have times when we’re most creative (and writing is that, too). So, if you’re most creative in the morning, try to write then. If your bright ideas come at 2:00 a.m., that’s all right. Just remember to get enough rest. For most of us, our creativity dries up pretty quickly if we’re bleary-eyed and nodding off at the keyboard.

5. While we can all learn from one another, we are each unique. Some of us will post brief check-ins. Others will be quite lengthy. Whatever works best for you . . .

6. And when we do visit our fellow writers’ sites, we’re sure to discover ideas we want to incorporate. It would be great to leave a comment. Even a line or two would be good.

7. Visiting fellow ROWers sites is a great way to connect with the community. However, we shouldn’t beat ourselves up if we’re not doing so as much as we’d like.

8. The same is true with check-ins. While it’s great to check in twice a week, if you miss a time or two, the ROW police aren’t going to track you down . . . at least I don’t think they are. Right, Kait?

9. If we’re writing about a serious subject and its beginning to consume us, wisdom dictates that we take a break from time to time . . . just not such a long break that we lose our rhythm.

10. If we seem to be spinning our wheels – or dropping the ball to continue the juggling metaphor – we can always take a break and write something completely different. It can be fun and the diversion we need to get back at our projects with new enthusiasm.

11. Maybe that diversion will have absolutely nothing to do with writing. Go for a walk. Play in the park. Jump in the pool. And then come back refreshed and ready to get at it.

12. For all of us, there are more important things than writing. We must know when to walk away from the keyboard or the notebook. Just remember to come back when the time is right.

May you have great success as you juggle . . . and write.

~*~

Stephanie Nickel

The Importance of Encouragement by Stephanie Nickel

I admire those who say, “I couldn’t not write.” I’ve often wondered if I was one of them. After a little analysis, I came to some conclusions. I could lay aside my aspirations of becoming a published author (although my co-author wouldn’t take kindly to that), and I could forego becoming widely recognized (again, refer to my co-author’s feelings). However, sharing what’s important to me in written form is just part of who I am.

I remember writing several poems by candlelight when I was a child. Over the years, I’ve written short stories, magazine and newspaper articles, and a full-length fiction manuscript, not to mention the countless notes and letters to friends and family. And then there are my nine blogs. From book reviews to fitness tips. From childbirth information to housekeeping humour. Such is the span of my interests.

Although some would say I’m scattered, I prefer to refer to myself as “eclectically-interested.” I’ve received advice such as “We should do one or two things in life and set aside the rest.” While I have to be careful not to spread myself too thin – or take on every exciting opportunity that comes my way – I must remain true to who I am. I will forever be going in a dozen directions at once.

I’m well aware of the importance of “branding” one’s self. When push comes to shove, my brand would be encouragement. I felt, in a special way, 2011 was to be the Year of Encouragement. Every time someone says, “You’re such an encouragement,” I do a little happy dance. (As a writer, I’d encourage you not to use a word – say encouragement, for example – several times in the same paragraph. Just a free tip.)

When one of my favourite authors asked if she could use my book review in its entirety as the foreword for her novel, I was thrilled. Seeing my name on the back of a book I’ve endorsed makes me smile. And, yes, I’m sure when I see my name on the front of a book, I’ll be very happy, but that is not the be all and end all for me.

When Kait called for sponsors for Round 4, I saw it as an opportunity to encourage my fellow ROWers. So, whether you write novels or poems, blog posts or journal entries, set some flexible, achievable goals, and start writing.

For those of you who are new to A Round of Words, I’d like to share what most surprised me about this group. It truly is a community of writers. I was thrilled when fellow ROWers stopped by my blog to cheer me on. I was also grateful to the group member who included encouraging others on her list of goals. It motivated me to do the same. Hopefully, you will find yourself encouraged. And perhaps, you’ll want to do the same for others.

~*~

Stephanie Nickel