Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Write First = 50% Complete!

As stated to my coworking group on our monthly goal-setting call last month in February, my goal was "Write First" every day for March. Because the days that I don't get as much work completed on my novel are when I start on some other personal life task--finances, something for the kids, so forth--and never end up circling back.

February was a challenging month. I discovered something big needed to change with my novel and had to re-edit my first eight chapters. Painful!!!! But I got through it. 💪

I got distracted by potentially writing a short story to publish in an anthology in the midst of all that. I plotted it and wrote the first chapter--and had many calls with friends but ultimately decided not to proceed.

BUT writing is writing, and don't worry, that content will find its way in a different women's fiction quadrilogy that I will write later around my happy place: Charleston, South Carolina.

And here we are, coming up on March goal-setting on next Monday. I have to figure out what my new goals will be. But the ones I set for March? Guess what--they worked! Squee! I've been very focused, and I've finally hit 50% completion of my novel!

I am both so proud and relieved--and also like, oh shit, now I have to do the same amount of work again, but in less time! 😱😱😱 Because I have pitching deadlines, I want this first draft to be complete (if not edited) by then.

However, despite the currently projected 2,430 words I need to pump out every weekday to meet the current goal, I am optimistic. Why? Not because I output 3,131 words Monday or 2,387 yesterday. No, because I think my strengths are working for me!

I've spoken before about the great courses I've taken as part of The Better Faster Academy with Becca Syme. In it, you take the Gallup Strengthfinders test, and the coaches with this program essentially help you figure out how to leverage your strengths to be most effective.

I am a Patreon for the program, and one of the benefits I get at the level I contribute is monthly microcoaching. I had my session yesterday, and the coach basically said that my maximizer (#2 strength) and strategic (#3 strength) were doing their thing correctly. Everything has to be perfect for me early in the process, and I always feel that I can do more. But once I start approaching a deadline, it just has to be DONE, so those strengths kind of let up. What's good enough now may not be the same as what was good enough a couple of months ago, but that's perfectly okay and shows that those strengths are functioning well. 😂

And we talked about how I'm good with boundaries (#4 relator strength), so I've been good about saying okay, I've met my word count. I can take a break, go for a walk. Work-life balance and all.

But I was concerned that I should be riding the wave, the juice, while I have it and continue pumping out words because there will be days when I am less productive. And the coach pointed out that since I mentioned I have childcare constraints, and since I seem to maybe be a mood writer, I should probably ride it out.

Hahaha. So that's the understanding I'm at now. Here's for the big upcoming April push. Send me all the good vibes, please!!!

Thursday, February 3, 2022

What Else Can I Do? H/T Encanto

Y'all my kids have been singing Encanto on repeat. But I never dreamed it was going to help me with my creative endeavors.

Lo and behold, about 2 weeks ago, I was deep in research because I had paused my writing when I thought maybe, just maybe, I was bullshitting too much and depriving my reader. So I spent pretty much two months reading and highlighting textbooks on one of the main subjects (I know I'm aging myself a la Miranda in And Just Like That), and I realized I was going to have to make a significant pivot on the inciting conflict of my novel.

Unfortunately, I've already written 1/3rd of the first draft of the second version of my first book (le sigh...), and now I was going to have to edit with a heavy hand, the first four chapters, and with a lighter touch on the following four chapters after that, which I'd already drafted.

Considering I'm already rewriting from scratch a book I've already written once, it was more than a little disheartening of a discovery.

First, I had to figure out how to make this pivot. That's where my accountability partner comes in. God bless him, but he had been saying, and saying, and saying to me that if I ever needed to talk anything through, just to call him. No big deal. All casual like that. It has been a long hard road for me to learn to make that call and realize I can actually brainstorm with people.

I'd done it once this year with my mentor Lori, and she helped me greatly improve my black moment, and once with my good friend who went on the writing retreat with me Keely, when I was trying to solve I can't remember what. So this was the third time.

I don't know why this concept is so hard to get through the head of a #1 strength Self-Assurance person like myself, to call for help.

But I rang up Gabriel, and honestly, we went down a couple avenues, but finally together found the right answer, and in less than an hour! I now accept that when I hit a roadblock, external processing with a friend can save me literally DAYS of time sweating what turn my writing and plot need to take.

So great and dandy, and the next day I go to sit in front of the computer, and I froze up. The idea of editing again, when I'd been editing for YEARS made me sick. I was not excited. I was intimidated.

I knew I needed a song to help me get in the mood to tackle this obstacle. That was when this Encanto song, "What Else Can I Do?" popped into my head. You see, this character Isabel is perceived as the perfect sister, and is singing about how she has the magic power to make roses, but when she accidentally makes a cactus she is thrilled. The beginning lyrics of the song are:

"I just made something unexpected

Something sharp, something new

It's not symmetrical or perfect

But it's beautiful and it's mine

What else can I do?"

They just hit me so dead on. And I started editing, and I was loving it, and having fun!

My story had taken a turn I didn't expect, but I could feel how much better it was, how much better it would be, for me going through the pain of making this change.

So if you need this sort of change and inspiration--I highly recommend calling a friend and listening to this song. :) Here's the video of this part of the movie--enjoy!

Monday, January 10, 2022

It's a New Year Baby

You'll probably see a bit less of me blogging or sending the newsletter, at least through April. I'm hyper-focused on minimizing distractions in my life and doing what matters most to me to achieve my goals. Or if I do post, I'll try to make it short and to-the-point, a quick update of where I'm at, what I'm doing, where I'm going.

Last year, my word of the year was "DEFY". I wanted most of all to defy my own expectations. I don't know if I did quite that but it was certainly a year of growth for me. This year, I've deemed it the year of "LESS". Here is what I've come up with:

The Year of Less

LESS social media/news/browsing/distractions
LESS alcohol & bad food
LESS buying things I don't need/spending money
LESS worrying about things that don't matter

MORE focus on my novel and reading
MORE enjoying the moment with my family
MORE moving my body and healthy foods
MORE spirituality/self-care/goal-setting

I realize that LESS and MORE look equal. But by cutting down on more of the former, I can do so much more of the latter. And that is the point. In my next blog post, I'll look to update my word count goals so I can hit my much more targeted writing deadlines.