When The Muse Attacks by Fallon Brown

When I talk about the muse, I don’t usually think about a mythical figure. Or really anything separate from me that helps inspire my work. To me, it’s more the part of my mind where all the ideas simmer, waiting for me to get to them.


Of course, they don’t always like to wait. Sometimes I can work through the draft of more than one book in a series without an issue. Other times, it seems like several ideas try to clamor for my attention at once. Different characters all demand their story be told now. This can lead to me having trouble concentrating on the one I’m trying to work on.


Lately I seem to be experiencing the latter of these. I have five different series that I have at least one novel drafted for. Besides those, I have five series somewhere in the planning stage. As well as a list of about a dozen standalone ideas. Some of these may not pan out, but I’ll never know if I never get to them.


I have tried more than one way to make sure I can get to all the stories I want to write, all the characters who are constantly talking to me. I make a lot of lists. I fill out calendars to figure out when I can work everything in. One way I’d figured it had me taking ten years to draft all of them, working on one after the other.


Sometimes I work through one story in a series then move on to the next one. This is probably the most logical way of doing it, but it seems to take forever, and often, I have other characters trying to get my attention when I’m working on something else.


My current method probably doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Even to me at times, I feel like it’s not the “right” way to do things. But, it does allow me to spend time with each of these characters. I’ve taken the four series in progress(the fifth is all in some stage of revisions) and the list of standalones and work on one different one each day.


I tried randomizing them, but that had me working on one a few days in a row and others not at all for a couple weeks. I decided I didn’t like that after all. I’ve currently only been working this new way for a little over a week, so it’s hard to say exactly how well it will work for me. So far it does seem to be going well. It also means, though, that I get to spend time with each of the characters more often.


Sometimes when bouncing between projects, I can get overwhelmed. I’ll find myself wanting to work more on one project than another. One of my series, the characters seem to just take over. It feels more like they’re telling the story through me, and I’m just transcribing it. And they won’t shut up. It doesn’t always leave a whole lot left to give to those other projects. When that happens, I find myself shifting back to working on just one thing until it’s finished.


As in all things, especially writing, what works for one person won’t work for another. Even for me, my own method doesn’t always work. Sometimes I have to find another way to handle all the ideas that seem to come rushing at me. Sometimes they’ll wait their turn. But, other times, I have to do what I can to work in the more insistent characters.


Maybe your ideas come in a more orderly way. Or you have an efficient way of sorting through which you’ll work on. But, if you’re like me, and you don’t always know how to handle all of them, another method might work for you, too.



Fallon Brown

Sunday #ROW80 Check-In

Did you survive the holiday?  And now the mad dash to Christmas begins.  Have you started your shopping?  I recommend online.  Spend the time you’re not sitting in traffic logging some extra words at the keyboard!

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To Make Time by Cindy Scott

Ever feel like there is never enough time, Dear Readers?


I do.


Between a Day Job that is often busy everyday from April to September and a passion for community theatre, I usually have plenty on my plate at anytime. When you then consider that I have committed to becoming a writer, then my days fill up pretty fast, even more so. I have learned a little about balancing my time since starting A Round of Words in 80 Days. It sometimes feels like juggling, even though I cannot juggle (in real life). Oh, heck, I can’t even do a cartwheel. Okay, a little off track…


What I do know is that I love you write!


There are days when I can’t quite make it work. Some days I get so hard on myself about the goals that I didn’t accomplished. Someday I just don’t even want to try. True story, Dear Readers, I have come home and just not even bothered to write. You know what happens, usually while online I see my writer friends and readers offering up their own stories and advice about how they didn’t make their goals for the day, week, or the Round. Maybe they fell short, and you know what? There are still there writing and editing.


The world didn’t end.


Sometimes we put a lot of pressure on ourselves. And I mean a lot!


And when we miss that writing goal, or cannot complete that editing project, we usually feel horrible. I know I do. I try so hard to make these goals happen that I get worked up when I don’t. I have been doing ROW80 for over 2 years now, and I have an amazing mentor and writer friends who all inspires me.


Failure is not an end, but simply a course correction.


I find what is not working and I make it better.


I remember that I am a human (with the soul of a dragon of course). I cannot do it all, even if I think I can. I think about how I CAN make it work:


First, I set smaller goals and after a while I build them up; write for 5 minutes a day, write 100 words, 300 words, or 30 minutes a day. I challenge myself; writing for NaNoWriMo, OctPoWriMo, WIPpet Wednesday. I scale back if I am getting overwhelmed or running short on time/sleep. And this is the big one, I find time that I am NOT doing something else and use it wisely. This means sometimes I am reading in the early morning before work (maybe before bed). I set a time every day to write or edit. But that doesn’t mean I forgo my friends and family, either. I give myself one unplugged day, a day to rest my “little grey cells” (think Hercule Poirot) and recharge.


Granted there are times when rehearsals that run late, when I can’t make my check-in, or maybe the muse decided to go on vacation. I have friends that juggle not only a day job, sometimes two, but also a family, kids, pets, and a writing career. It isn’t always easy, but somewhere in there we all find it, we make time to write, edit the next novel, meet with CPs and WPs. Always I see amongst the ROW80-ers that books are written, art is being made, and passions are ignited.


It’s what we do, whether teaching a class, homeschooling kids, stage managing a show, gardening, crochet hats and blankets. We do it because we love it. We make the time.


Any advice I can give to any of you, Dear Readers is this: don’t be scared. Know that it is okay if you don’t reach a goal, after all tomorrow is another day. Life happens and in that you might have to re-evaluate those goals. Ask questions. Challenge yourself. Re-schedule. Unplug every once and while. And, most importantly, Never EVER sacrifice what is most important to you.


If you want it, it will happen.


Cindy Scott

Midweek #ROW80 Check-In

Holy cow, I can’t believe November is half over.  Why is it that the moment the calendar ticks over to November 1st, I suddenly feel like the white rabbit running around shrieking “I’m late! I’m late!”?   How are all of you faring on your words for the month?

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Shrodinger’s Glass by Shan Jeniah Burton

There is nothing either good or
bad, but thinking makes it so. Hamlet Act 2, scene 2
ROW80 is the writing challenge that knows we all have lives. That’s pretty handy, because sometimes the challenges that crop up expand beyond the goals, we set for ourselves, and complicate life in general. Having the freedom to adjust goals or take a break as often as we need to gives us the flexibility to continue on the path to our goals, to the best of our ability, even amidst chaos.
ROW80 accepts and embraces the realities of life, but it’s still up to us to figure out howto deal with adversity when life throws up obstacles between us and our goals, writing or otherwise.

Sometimes, it’s those same obstacle-inclusive lives that offer a path toward dealing with the non-planned challenges they present.

My life just happens to include an eleven year old live-in guru. In helping her navigate the vagaries of her own life, I often find tools I can use in my own – one of the job perks of being a mom.

My daughter generally has an upbeat personality, but eleven is a tricky age. Her body is changing dramatically, just as her understanding of the world is getting more sophisticated. She still believes in magic, but she also realizes that waving a wand at a problem won’t simply untangle or erase it.
That’s a hard realization, and she’s had some ‘glass half empty’ moments, these last months.
I try to help her look for the positive in her situation. If she’s sad that a sleepover has ended, I remind her that she can hold to the fun,she had , if she focuses on that more than the sadness at the inevitable ending.
The glass, we’ve decided, is like Schrodinger’s Cat. Half full and half empty mean the same thing – the glass, of course, is both, at the same time. There’s not one drop of difference – and , at the same instant, there’s a universe between the two.
It’s all a matter of perspective. Dwelling in the difficulties of a challenge, the things that just aren’t going to go the way we wanted them, planned them, hoped for, keeps us chained down and burdened. The challenges are walls and restraints that won’t let us move or even see past them.
We get stuck. Maybe we see no way out, and we quit.
But that’s only one perspective. If we tip our heads and shift our focus, we might just see things a little differently. Not in a la-la-la, let’s- just- pretend -this -isn’t -a -problem way, but in a proactive manner….kind of more like MacGyver than MacGruber. =)
We can see the challenges as possibilities for change, learning, growth, new opportunities. For the chance to chart a new course, set new goals, find new ways to achieve them that accept the challenges without being victimized or paralyzed by them.
Schrodinger’s Glass is, at once, half full and half-empty. It’s an optical illusion of a glass that can be looked at two ways, but not at the same time.
It’s all in how we see it.
For me, the difference is gratitude. I’m dealing with a few unforeseen challenges at the moment, and it might be easy to see budget restrictions and family of origin frictions as negative developments. Instead, I’m trying to find ways to deal with our slightly more finite than I’d like resources, and be grateful that we have as much as we do – we aren’t hungry, we own our home (even if it’s far from fancy, and in need of repairs we can’t quite manage easily). And I’m grateful that I’ve learned that I don’t have to become enmeshed in the dysfunctions and manipulations that are such a part of the family into which I was born. I can keep a little personal distance, or a lot, as needed – it’s up to me how involved I wish to be. I can stand for myself and my own family – with strength, and without anger.

This round, I’m challenging myself to seek gratitude when the inevitable adversities present themselves. Can I look beyond what’s lacking, and see the potential gifts and benefits that are offered in evident setback? Can I shift goals and priorities, or learn new ways of doing things that will continue to move me toward my goals? Can I appreciate what I have, while I move toward resolution to difficult circumstances? Can I continue to strive toward my dreams, even through adversity?

I’m going to try, and I invite you to join me. Let’s lift Schrodinger’s glass together, and drink a toast to the challenges we set for ourselves, and the ones that life offers up as surprise packages.

My young live-in guru lifts a glass – you get to decide whether it’s half-full or half-empty!