April 13 2017

Quarterly Goals Checkin

Back in January, I told you all about my 2017 SMART Goals.

Well somehow the first quarter of the year has come and gone and it is time to see how those goals are coming along.

Here are the goals I set at the beginning of the year:

FAMILY FUN GOALS:
1) Do a cabin weekend  DONE!
2) April trip (on track)
3) Annual Hockey Trip for the kids’ birthdays (not scheduled yet)

FITNESS GOALS:
1) Get 6 hours of sleep a night (Getting Better)
2) Drink 6 cups of water a day (Fairly Consistent)
3) Continue using MyFitnessPal app (Ok, so I only enter my weight each day)

HOUSE GOALS:
1) Clean out my home office (Not much progress)
2) Declutter the landing  DONE!
3) Declutter my clothes (1st pass done)

PERSONAL GOALS:
1) Do some genealogy
2) Take three writing classes  DONE!
3) Read for thirty minutes a day  (Fairly Consistent)

SPIRITUAL/CHARITY GOALS:
1) Pray daily  (Fairly Consistent)
2) Read 15 inspirational fiction books (4 read so far, so on track)
3) Crochet 26 hats to donate to charity (17 of 26 done)

Do you want to see photos? Let me know if you want to see photos of the hats I have made so far in the comments below. If more than 10 people show and interest, I will post pictures.

WRITING GOALS:
1) Finish one of my previous NaNoWriMo novels (working on edits and revisions during April)
2) Publish something (see writing goal #1 above)
3) Participate in NaNoWriMo (and hopefully win again)

How do you tackle making sure your goals get done each year? Do you schedule them into your monthly goals and then further yet into weekly goals? How does that work for you? I know I am finding that editing and revisions to my 2016 NaNo Novel have been even more difficult than I originally expected. I have amazed myself how far I have gotten on the crochet hats goal, but I attribute the success to getting a jump on it while at the cabin over New Year’s weekend.

How are you doing on your goals for 2017? You haven’t given up already, have you? I sure hope not, we still have nearly 3/4 of the year to get them done.

April 5 2017

Writing with Others

Writing with Others

Do you find yourself having trouble staying on task when you are supposed to be writing? Do you write better in a group where everyone is focused on getting words down during a writing sprint?

Sometimes during NaNoWriMo or Camp NaNoWriMo, I am able to go to in-person writing events with some of our local writers. These are so helpful and tons of fun. At other times, I find myself unable to attend a local event for one reason or another and missing the chance to do writing sprints with other writers. My solution for that is to go to YouTube and find a Virtual Write-In to watch. I found out about Virtual Write-Ins through NaNoWriMo, so I wanted to share some of their events that are on YouTube and available anytime you want to feel less alone in your writing. Here is the National Novel Writing Month YouTube Channel. They have a playlist of 86 different write-ins that you can watch and write along with. Most of these are about an hour-long, but they have several word sprints in each one so you can always jump ahead to find a longer one. Another perk to using these is that many of them include prompts that might help you get your creative juices flowing.



One of my favorite channels on YouTube to watch year-round is the YA Word Nerds. They do live shows every Sunday evening and have done many write-ins especially during the months of April, July, and November when there are NaNo events going on. You can find their live show playlist below and can scroll through looking for their Virtual Write-Ins. Sometimes they have guests with them like the video shown below with guest Kyra and past WordNerd Calyn.

Continue reading

March 31 2017

Fear of Finishing

I have only recently figured out that a good part of the reason I have yet to finish one of my novels is because if I finish the first draft, I will actually have to figure out how to edit the thing. Now one would think that knowing this is an issue would be a big part of overcoming the fear and doing something to fix the problem. Yes, I am willing and able to admit it IS a problem.

I felt marginally better after hearing the keynote speaker at a recent writer’s conference acknowledge that it is a common problem among writers. He said it was kind of like while you are writing the book, writing is your job, so when you finish it is like losing your job or being fired. Once you finish the book, you have to tackle a new job, that of being an editor. Hopefully, an editor who will finish revising the first draft into something worth reading. It is a huge commitment.

So, now that it is almost April, it is time to figure out what project I want to tackle for Camp NaNoWriMo. The nice thing about camp is that you can choose your own goal and one of the things you can choose is to edit a previously written manuscript. So, I am planning to tackle overcoming the fear and seeing how much progress I can make on revising one or two of my partially written novels.

I have started/written six books in five different genres since November 1, 2013. Yes, I am still experimenting trying to figure out what works best for me. No, I still haven’t found my writing niche. I have written one book twice using just the characters and the basic ideas and setting from the first version of the book. I consider the second version to be the second draft. I know the first version I wrote is almost entirely crap because I had no idea at all how to plot or write fiction.

So I recently took the plunge and picked two of my books to print out, read through and revise during April. No, I don’t expect to get either one completely revised in the 30 days, but I want to have options. The options may be good for times when one of the books is just making me crazy and so I can switch to the other.

Book 1 is the first NaNoWriMo novel I wrote in November 2013 and the working title at this point is, “The Roller Coaster We Call Parenting”. It is creative non-fiction and basically a parenting memoir. When I compiled it I used only half inch margins so it printed out at 116 pages double spaced.

Book 2 is draft two of the novel I tried writing in November of 2014 and wrote the second draft of in November 2016. The novel is inspirational fiction mystery, has one-inch margins and printed out at 177 pages. It is the first of seven books planned in the Crafty Ladies Series, this one being “Marni’s Story”.

I chose these books because I feel like they might be in the best shape of any I have begun writing thus far and this alone might keep me focused on the revision process instead of giving up before I finish. In November 2015, I wrote “Lu Ann’s Story” another book in the Crafty Ladies Series, but this one was written as an inspirational fiction romance. During Camp NaNoWriMo in April 2016, I started writing an inspirational historical fiction novel, but only got about thirty thousand words into that one, so it is the least ready for revisions at this point. In case you are keeping track and realized that was only five books, I have also written a non-fiction book about how to use Excel. I have begun revising it and it doesn’t need that much more work so wasn’t enough to tackle for a Camp NaNoWriMo project. Maybe that can be option three and the one that actually makes me feel like I am getting something done if I finish the first round of revisions on it.

So my actual goal for April 2017 is to spend an hour a day or thirty hours total for the month reading through and revising one or both of the books I have printed out. I may also compile and print out the others just so I have them in case all the electronic backups somehow fail me. Oh man, that didn’t sound at all paranoid now, did it?

If any of you have any great tips, tricks or advice for how exactly one goes about revising a novel, PLEASE comment or email me and do share. I have read a few craft books on the topic, watched countless videos on YouTube by others who have done this, but still feel somewhat unprepared to actually tackle this job as editor. I do know enough to know they are a hot mess and nowhere near ready for anyone else’s eyes yet, so tackle them I will, because in 2017 I am doing everything I can to be FEARLESS.

January 22 2017

​You Deserve to be Inspired

(NOTE: I am participating in the Writing Contest: You Deserve to be Inspired. Hosted by Positive Writer: http://positivewriter.com/writing-contest-you-deserve-to-be-inspired/ This blog post shall serve as my entry.)

Hello, my name is Karen and I am a writer. For many years I have felt I was supposed to write a book. The feeling wouldn’t go away, but I never got the sense of what sort of book I should be writing, so I waited for the same sense of purpose that I got with needing to write the book. I waited and thought about it, but still no still small voice whispered to me what this book I was absolutely certain I should be writing should be about. Nothing, not even what genre I should be writing. I tried to be patient. After all it hadn’t been my idea to write the book, so I figured I should wait to get further guidance on the matter.

Then one night, in the wee hours of November 1, 2013, I was surfing the net and searching for instructions on how to write a book and came across the NaNoWriMo.org website. I read about the annual challenge that happens every November where people all over the world spend the 30 days of November trying to write a 50,000 word novel. It was as if the voice I had been waiting on was now smacking me upside the head and telling me to stop thinking and talking about writing a book and just write it already!

Alright. But what should I write I asked out loud? Suddenly the age old advice to write what you know popped into my head. Well…that was something but when it comes to writing a book I don’t exactly KNOW anything I thought. So I thought and thought and finally decided that what I know is my life and what about my life might be interesting enough for someone else to want to read I asked myself. I finally decided that I should accept the challenge and that I would spend the next thirty days writing about our adventures in parenting our two, now adult children. I figured since they were now both in college and we had survived thus far will very little drama, perhaps we were doing something right and should write it all down to see if there was anything worth sharing with the world. So I worked on writing for the next thirty days, all the time wondering if I was crazy to have taken on this challenge. But I kept at it and also decided to join my local region and see if anyone else in my city was interested in writing. I fully expected to be the only crazy one in our mid-west city to want to write. I didn’t know anyone else who called themselves a writer, so I thought I was all alone, but was comforted by the thought that somewhere else in the world, others surely must be taking the challenge with me.

I discovered that there were write-ins happening a regular intervals all around my city and figured if I was in for the challenge, I should be all in and attend a few write-ins and see if they would help me. After the first write-in I was hooked. When the gathering of writers did word sprints I had to write because they would know if I wasn’t and I wanted to fit into this writer-ly group in the worst way. So I wrote and you know what? I wrote more than I thought I could. I was typing out one memory after another with twenty plus years of parenting under my belt to draw from. I learned that writing is a group sport. Who knew? After reading over some of what I had written, I realized I could write in a way that might actually enjoy reading.

I made it through the month, and I learned something else about myself. I could write every day. Maybe not a lot some days, but I could write EVERY day. I also learned that I could reach the goal of 50,000 words in less than 30 days! I felt like a million bucks! I was on top of the world. I was a writer, a REAL writer and I could do ANY thing. I gained so much confidence in myself as a person. A person who never used to try new things like writing, like meeting and talking to total strangers in places I had never been before, who never ventured out to strange places because I might get lost. I had a reason to do all those things. I had a goal to achieve. Little old me, a forty-something mom with grown kids was doing all this and being accepted into a group of writers that were mostly young enough to be my kids. There were a few in their late twenties and even some in their thirties, but I was definitely one of the older ones and yet I was taken at face value as a writer and even praised for my enthusiasm. I AM a writer! I am a WRITER! Having met the goal in the time allotted, I am also now a WINNER! I have gained so much from participating in NaNoWriMo  these last 4 years! I am a winner and I am a writer and I will likely do NaNoWriMo for the rest of my life.

January 12 2017

​SMART Goals 2017

Picture

Ok, we have a new year and that means I need to bunch of new goals. I have been setting goals for years, but it seems I write them down, post them to the group that asks us to set the goals and then proceed o forget all about them until December when I dig them up and look them over to see if I have managed to actually, accidentally get any of them done. Usually, the only ones I got accomplished were the ones I would have done anyway because I certainly wasn’t deliberately trying o get any of my goals done. I decided that since I found this shiny new obsession called bullet journaling, that perhaps I would do well to really think about my goals before setting them this year and once they were recorded in my bullet journal I should actually try to actively get them done this year.

So I saw some folks in the bullet journal community talking about the importance of setting SMART Goals. So I, of course, Googled it and came up with lots of helpful websites and graphics. I decided I liked the looks of one of them so I saved it and tried to stick to what it said when it came to creating my goals this year. I will include the graphic in this post in case you want to see if the goals you have set for yourself are SMART Goals.

So, I won’t bore you by telling you what makes a smart goal because you can read them for yourself in the colorful graphic.
I split my goals into categories. I’m not sure why, but I’ve done this a few times before, so decided to stick to the established system this year because it seemed like a decent idea at the time.

FAMILY FUN GOALS:
1) Do a cabin weekend
2) April trip
3) Annual Hockey Trip for the kids’ birthdays

You are probably saying that these sound easy enough and you’d be right. I actually marked the first one off after New Year’s weekend because hubby and I decided the cabin was the way we wanted to celebrate the new year. (See my previous post and pictures of the cabin.) We already have the April trip planned because we planned it during our trip last April. The hockey trip is a matter of hubby and the two grown kids settling on a NY Rangers game that fits everyone’s schedule and is somewhere in the midwest. We actually did the 2015 trip in March 2016 and the 2016 trip in November 2016 because that was the way it worked out with the NHL hockey season schedule.

FITNESS GOALS:
1) Get 6 hours of sleep a night
2) Drink 6 cups of water a day
3) Continue using MyFitnessPal app

None of these is easy for me. I usually drink only water after work, but almost never drink water earlier in the day because I need my caffeine fix and so I drink my unsweetened iced tea instead. Yes, someday I will need to break the caffeine addiction, but this is not the year for that goal. I log into MyFitnessPal daily when I am at home, if nothing else, to record my weight each day. I am trying to do better about recording what I eat and drink in the app because I know when I do so regularly and stay within the caloric recommendations, I can lose weight. The sleep thing I have been trying to do better about since before I had kids (25 years ago) and it just isn’t happening, but I continue to try.

HOUSE GOALS:
1) Clean out my home office
2) Declutter the landing
3) Declutter my clothes

My office is an eight-foot square that was, in a former life, a breakfast nook. It has a built in china cabinet, an L-shaped desk, half of which has a hutch attached to it, three file cabinets with six drawers of files and four drawers of assorted junk between them and my desk has one of those long drawers for pens and such too. I am very good at cramming a lot of stuff in a small amount of space, unfortunately. Most of the stuff is just there at this point and needs to be gone through, sorted and decluttered. The clothing can always use a good culling. The landing is full of furniture waiting for the master bedroom to be gutted and rebuilt from the studs out. Seriously lofty, those goals!

PERSONAL GOALS:
1) Do some genealogy
2) Take three writing classes 
3) Read for thirty minutes a day

I was looking at the website just yesterday to see what classes are being offered at the local writers center. Reading is not hard, but I don’t always make time for it every day and I really should. I used to do genealogy all the time, it was my passion from the time I was in fifth grade until I started working full-time over ten years ago. I miss it, I can’t remember where I left off so jumping back into it might be difficult.

SPIRITUAL/CHARITY GOALS:
1) Pray daily
2) Read 15 inspirational fiction books
3) Crochet 26 hats to donate to charity (12 of 26 done)

Ok, so I already pray daily, but perhaps I should expand my prayer list a bit. I prefer to read inspirational fiction but want to make sure I am reading mostly in this genre. I attend three crochet/knit meetings a month where I can usually get an entire hat crocheted, but I don’t always get to attend the meetings and don’t always finish a hat at each meeting. I have already completed four hats this year toward the goal. Hats are my thing, I rarely deviate from the one hat pattern. Carpel tunnel could be a serious issue in achieving this goal.

WRITING GOALS:
1) Finish one of my previous NaNoWriMo novels
2) Publish something
3) Participate in NaNoWriMo (and hopefully win again)

In case you haven’t figured it out already, I LOVE NaNoWriMo! I have participated and won for the past four years. I have four unfinished manuscripts (just over 50k words each) to show for my efforts along with one Camp NaNoWriMo unfinished manuscript (just over 30k words) and a non-fiction book as yet unfinished. Thus, goal number one. Once that is completed, it would be nice to actually publish one of those six books. That goal could also mean writing and publishing a short story or article of some kind. Come November, I will be writing another 50,000 words on some new project.

So those are my 2017 goals for what it’s worth. The thing I’m not good at it checking in on those goals occasionally and planning to make sure they get accomplished. If you have any tips or tricks for how to actually get yourself to accomplish the goals, please contact me by email or leave a comment.