Midweek #ROW80 Check-In

So the Super Bowl is over.  Spring is supposed to come early.  And somehow we’re already midway through February.  This year is already FLYING.  Are those words flying with it?  Let us know in your check in.

Also, I find myself short 3 sponsors this round.  Somehow I forgot about this when I was organizing.  If you’d like to pinch hit (basically, I need guest posts for the Monday inspiration slots), dash me an email at kaitnolanwriter(at)gmail(dot)com.

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When Chaos Descends by Fallon Brown

My mind can be a crazy thing. It’s never completely at rest. And it doesn’t handle stillness well. It’s one reason I don’t usually “take a break” even during the RoW80 breaks. I just…can’t. If I’m not doing something with my hands, I have to be occupying my mind somehow. Sometimes, even when I’m doing something with my hands, I have to do something else to occupy the chaos in my head.


And that’s really the best way to describe it…chaos. So many different thoughts bouncing around. What I have to do for the day, whatever story I’m working on, random bits of dialogue that just suddenly pop up. That thing I said a week or month ago that I wished I’d said differently.


About the only way I can control even some of the chaos is by organizing everything. This is the reason I have all my calendars, schedules, and to-do lists. Without them, not only do I not have any focus, but that chaos can feel like it’s drowning me. And that makes it very hard to get anything done. But, when I do have all those in place, my day, and my work, seem to run a lot smoother.


  • Calendar: I put all my writing and editing goals/deadlines on a calendar. I used to have a paper one, but I changed things so much, it made it easier to just keep one on the computer. I figure out how much I need to write/edit each week to finish on time. This changes for me as I finish things, usually faster than I figured I would be able to.


  • To-do lists: I put just about everything on my daily to-do lists. Not only my writing or editing goals for the day. But also the household chores, reading, and crafting I want to get done. There are some that are on everyday, like washing dishes and prepping dinner. There’s the laundry, which is a different load every day. There are some I only do once a month. But, if any of them don’t make it on the list, it’s unlikely they’ll get done at all.


  • More lists: I also have monthly, quarterly, & yearly lists which I make my weekly and daily lists from. Those I update periodically, but it’s the daily ones I really focus on. I organize those by priority. My writing and editing goals, of course, go first. Then, I worry about household chores and social media stuff. After that’s any reading or crafting items I have on my list. I try to work my way down through in order as much as I can. And if I finish everything for the day, I usually move on and get started on the next day’s. Although sometimes I’ll just stop for the day and get some bonus reading in.


  • Schedule: I don’t actually write this down. And it kind of goes along with my daily lists. It also goes along with the way I naturally work. Writing new words comes easiest for me first thing in the morning. So, that’s one reason it’s first on my list. Also, it’s when the kids are sleeping, then at school. I find it easier to get other things done when they’re home.


I know this probably makes me look very rigid. And to a point, that’s likely true. But, like I’m sure is the case with most of you, I have a family as well. In my case, that includes a husband and two young children. While they are mostly independent, they still need me at times. Which means there has to be some flexibility. I think one of the reasons these to-do lists work for me is that I understand there’ll be some days I don’t get to everything. Those days I just move those unfinished items to the next day. And at the end of the week, I start fresh again.


I say this in a lot of my posts, but it holds true. You have to do what works best for you. Some may say so much organization will wreck creativity. But without it, I can’t even focus enough to tap into that creativity.


So, if you’re finding your mind is like mine and doesn’t settle down on its own, maybe this is one way you could help it along. It’s certainly not the only way, maybe not even  the best way, but maybe it will work for you, too.


Fallon Brown

Midweek #ROW80 Check-In

It’s a NEW MONTH!  Are all those New Year’s resolutions holding out or do you need to make some adjustments to your goals?  Nothing wrong with that.  Just update them in your check-in post!

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True Confessions by Beth Camp

I’ve Always Wanted To Be A Writer. And Always Denied It

I remember staring at my bookcase crammed with books when I was in my 20s, and crying in despair because I knew that I would never write a book of my own. After a decade of working odd jobs through school, I found a career as an international banker. In my late 30s, I fell in love truly and married a man with light feet, a big heart, and absolute belief in me. We traveled. Once we had our cherished child, I returned to school for my masters and taught English at a community college. I loved working with these students – their journeys as convoluted as mine; their clear visions inspired me. I wrote between my commitments to others and during summers. Poetry. Flash fiction. Some published. Some not. A novel that yet lives in a drawer.
Why was that first novel so important? Because it showed me that I could truly tell a story. Those characters also helped me confront and exorcise something very painful – my childhood as the daughter of an alcoholic.
And then somehow, when I wondered if I would ever retire, my husband and I went on sabbatical, a glorious six-month trip to as many countries. I returned to work to discover my department had saved several noxious projects because, as they put it, nodding their heads as we sat in a tiny boardroom, that I completed projects like these so well. In that moment, I knew it was time to retire. What would I do – used to 70 hour weeks as a routine? Perhaps I would write.

So I took a creative writing class. The teacher, a little intimidated by my presence in the class, stood up on that first day to say she accepted any kind of a story except those that ran with gore. I was dismayed, for I had hoped to work on my not-yet-completed novel, Mothers Don’t Die. Well, I thought, I might as well write about mermaids. And so I did. Over the course of the next ten weeks, ten stories emerged, teaching me anew that creativity is not limited by subject. After the class was over, one of those stories lost the mermaid and morphed into my first book, Standing Stones, and led to a two month research trip to Scotland.

I’m now immersed in that delightful process that sometimes seems unending for Book 3 in the current series: Write, research, write, edit, write, research, edit, and write again. Send out to beta readers, then write and edit and, finally, publish. My characters and their struggles in the middle of the 19thCentury are endlessly fascinating.
Why am I telling you this story? To say that dreams do not go away when you turn 40, or 50, or older.
Dreams shape who we are. And, we know we are writers – even when we cannot see quite how to achieve our dreams. I began writing seriously the year I turned 64. That was 8 years ago, and I haven’t stopped. Writing shapes each morning and anchors the rest of my life. Sometimes I wonder how long I will be able to write, if my muse will decide that SHE wants to retire. Or I worry that this story I’m working on will never be finished. But in the morning, the keyboard calls, and I write.
The lesson I hope to share with you? That we writers, albeit very, very different, need to pursue a commitment to our dreams in a very tangible way. Yep, butt in chair. We each will find our own path, writing journals, story boards, NaNoWriMo, or simply writing every day, or 5 days out of 7.
Participating in this wonderful online community of ROW80, offers us another way to support our writing through a process of setting and committing to very specific goals — and reporting our progress. We are accountable to ourselves and, in a rather unique way, to each other.
May 2016 be the year you write that project that emerges from your deepest heart.

The True Meaning of Words by Gloria Weber

As writers we all know the power of words.  However, some words get certain connotations and we make presumptions.  For example, odorous.  I hear that and I hold my breath, because I assume that the odorous house smells nasty.  However, the actual definition of the word is “having or giving off a smell.”  So roses or freshly baked cookies are odorous.

When I started writing, I had certain preconceived notions about some words.  For example, routine meant the same as rut.  Rut means “a habit or pattern of behavior that has become dull and unproductive but is hard to change.” Ruts aren’t very good for writing.  However, routine means “a sequence of actions regularly followed.”  There’s nothing wrong with that, is there?

I unintentionally started developing writing routines even when I tried shunning them.  I’d always come to the computer with a beverage.  I’d play music or make sure everything was quiet (depended on my mood).  I opened my writing program.  These were (in fact, they still are) the signals that let my writer brain know, “It’s time to shine!”

But this is not a rut!  Things change. It isn’t always the same drink (time of year and what’s in the house colors my choice).  My music (or even “silence”) preference depends on the task and my attention span for the day.  Sometimes I will the writing program and then go get my drink.  And some days none of that happens at all.

Routine isn’t rigid like rut.  Unlike rut, routine is good for my writing.  Heck, routine, I’ve come to find, is quite comforting.

Routine wasn’t the only word I got wrong.  I used to be a pantser because “plotting made everything boring.”  Plotting means “devise the sequence of events in (a play, novel, movie, or similar work).”  It doesn’t mean know every word and minute detail involved.

It’s like knowing you’ll drive down the highway, but there are no promises.  There could be an accident that slows you down.  Maybe you get hungry and stop to buy some nachos.  Just because you know the path it doesn’t mean you know the entire journey.

So, I invite you to look at some words you’ve shunned or feared. Do they mean what you thought they meant?  Could you look at them another way?  Could they help you?


Gloria Weber