Carol Collett

Life as I know it

Archive for the category “Creativity”

#2017WritingGoals

So my personal goals are set for the year. But my writing goals have been in limbo. Until Thursday night, anyway. During my somewhat weekly writing meeting with Kaye I pretty much defined my #2017WritingGoal: I want to have a submission ready manuscript in one year.

Big freaking goal.

Gulp.

Double gulp.

But, when I break it down into smaller goals it looks like this:

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Still a HUGE FREAKING GOAL. But it’s doable. Not easy by any estimation, but doable. Actionable. Within my control.

Let’s do this. What are your #2017WritingGoals?

Neil Gaiman and a Year of Mistakes

So, I’m participating in a life coaching program called Creative Alchemy Passion Plan by Kathy Kawalec, who is, oddly enough, a dog trainer. She participates in open level sheepdog trials with her border collies.

Today, one of the members of the group posted a quote attributed to Neil Gaiman. I found his original post here.

The part of this post that my fellow creative alchemy student mentioned is this:

“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.
Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.
So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.
Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.
Make your mistakes, next year and forever.”
This works in so perfectly with my current daily devotional subject of fear. The specific devotional is a 14 day plan on Bible.com called Fear is a lie. In today’s reading the writer argues that fear is a learned response in some cases, therefore can be unlearned. The writer says the first step in unlearning fear is to identify individual fears.
Failure, you could say mistakes, topped my list. But Mr. Gaiman’s reading gives another way to think of failure. As, well, not failure. But a mistake. A learning tool. Something useful. Another way to approach the task at hand. Or not approach it. Maybe the mistake will lead to a wonderful discovery.
My favorite line in Mr. Gaiman’s quote above is this: “Whatever it is you’re scare of doing, Do it.” 
Does fear inhibit you in pursuit of your dreams? What techniques do you use to just do it afraid? How do you break the hold when you feel fear has you in its grip?

Start Where You Are

Start Where You Are

Blogging seems to be my nemesis. Not sure why. But I’m picking back up where I left off.

Just wish I could do that with the story I was working on in July. Frankly, it’s a mess. Really. A hot, stinking mess. I don’t even want to look at the file, let alone open it. So I haven’t opened it. Since July.

Sigh.

But here I am. Starting right where I sit.

Sunday Round Up and Goals for Next Week

Last week was mostly a bust. At least after Wednesday. I did meet my word count goal of 4k words by bedtime Tuesday. I actually had over 5k! I did blog three days. But on the work out front? Big old fail. I did do my back PT exercises one day and about five minutes of a yoga video one day. But I was sick most of the week with a sinus infection.

So, let’s move from the land of unmet goals to the land full of possibility, AKA next week.

  1. I want end Friday with 10k words on my Camp NaNo project.
  2. Thirty minutes of yoga three days during the week.
  3. Walk thirty minutes three days during the week.

No reason I can’t meet those goals.

 

And, speaking of Camp NaNo, we have an awesome local leader who has planned many events for us throughout the month. Unfortunately I’ve only been able to attend one event. This morning she had us to her house for yoga and write. Three of us participated. We spent about forty five minutes doing some very gentle beginner yoga. Many years (a couple of decades actually) ago I practiced yoga on a daily basis. I realized today how much I miss it.

After yoga we did a thirty minute word sprint. So awesome to write with friends. Great fellowship.

 

March Goals: Week One Follow Up or Where Am I?

Even though it ‘s not a full week into March, I’m going to do my first week follow up today. Sunday will be a day of reflection and follow up as far as my writing goals are concerned.

So how did I do?

Over all, pretty good. I’m satisfied with my progress in a way that leaves me excited about where I’m headed.


 

Goal One: Two days off per week

This may be the easiest goal to accomplish since I’m basically lazy. 😀 But, yes, met this one. Took a couple of days off earlier in the week. What that means is that I need to write today since Sunday has typically been my day off writing.


 

Goal Two: Add 3000 words to WIP each week

I only added 2349 words to my WIP, so I failed to meet this goal. But the month (week) only started Tuesday, and I do plan to write today, so I’ll count this as a draw rather than a loss.


 

Goal Three: Complete the rough draft of one article

I have not worked on this yet. It’s not due until the end of the month. I do have work on this project scheduled this week. I’ll have an update next Sunday.


 

Goal Four: Complete the rough draft of one short story

Same as above. I have not started this project yet, but do have some work on it scheduled.


 

Goal Five: Set up a WIP word count tracker

Done! Woo Hoo! I’m using StoryToolz. You can see the counter in the sidebar on the right side of the page.


 

Goal Six: Research magazine markets

I have started this. I have a the Kindle version of the  2016 Writer’s Market. I ordered the 2016 Children’s Magazine Market from Institute of Children’s Literature late last week. I hope to receive it this week.


 

Overall, I think I’m off to a great start. Next weekend during my reflection time I will start working on writing out my April goals.

Have you made progress on your March goals? How do you track your progress?

Things I Learned During the #LeapAheadWritingMarathon

In February I joined my friend, Kaye Dacus, in a writing marathon. Kaye set up the marathon to focus more on developing commitment to writing rather than setting a word count goal alone. With great enthusiasm, I joined in the fun.

Along the way I (re) learned some things about myself and my approach to writing.

  1. My heart’s deep desire is to write. I’d let that passion dim over the years due to fear.
  2. I LOVE children’s literature and want to write it. I started out writing for kids, but turned to writing for adults years ago. I can’t even remember why. But this month, I returned to my roots.
  3. The more I write in my personal journal, the more I write other things.
  4. Although I’m a seat-of-the-pants writer, AKA pantser, I need to develop and use some way to create a story skeleton. Not a detailed outline. That might choke me to death. But a bare bones, one or two sentences about each story beat guide to keep me at least in the same story world throughout the process.
  5. Even though I’m an introvert of the highest order, I need my friends. My writing friends, especially, help me stay grounded, and keep me inspired.
  6. Social media derails me. Shortly after the start of the #LeapAheadWritingMarathon I began to limit my social media time. Wow, what a difference, not only in my productivity, but in my emotional state.
  7. Finally, I learned that I can be committed to writing and be afraid at the same time, and my head won’t spontaneously ignite.

Today March blew in with gusto, and Kaye started another writing marathon for our private little group of writing friends. I’m so stoked!! My goals for March may seem weird, but hang with me.

  1. Take two days per week off writing. I can still study and plan, but no actual writing. (Journaling doesn’ count.)
  2. Add at least 3,000 words per week to my novel length WIP.
  3. Complete the rough draft of at least one article.
  4. Complete the rough draft of at least one short story.
  5. Set up some type of WIP and word count tracker. (Maybe Story Toolz?)
  6. Start researching markets for the short pieces. I plan to spend one of the non-writing days each week on this.

I can’t even begin to explain how GREAT it feels to the passion for my dream back. 😀

If I Knew I Could Not Fail

What if I fly?

In working through a creative business planner and productivity workbook to try to get me on track for 2016, this question was in the first chapter: If I knew I could not fail, I would…

The exercise is to then answer that question honestly. It’s a great exercise. I can see how it could free many people to realize what they want to inspire them to go for it.

But to someone who has pushed down her dreams for years in order to tolerate the grind of the soul-eating day job, that question incites panic, maybe terror. In fact, I waited several days after I read the question to answer it. For so many years I’ve run in fear from my dreams. Nothing has worked to make them seem reachable or reasonable to me. I have always come back to the day to day grind of making a living.

For several days I grappled with the desire to work through the exercise versus the demons of practicality telling me to just let it go, that my dreams have passed me by. The voice telling me that at fifty one years of age I’m too old to dream is strong. Very, very strong.

Finally, after several days of prayer, I overcame that voice. What did I have to lose? More self esteem? Whatever. And just maybe, I have something to gain.

So here’s my list:

If I knew I could not fail, I would…
Write and publish stories
Weave beautiful chainmaille and sell it in a successful online store
Train and handle cadaver dogs

I feel nervous just typing out that list. But there it is.

You know what? None of those are out of the realm of possibility. I can attain any or all of them. Will I pursue all of them? I don’t know yet.

How do you answer that question? If you knew you could not fail, what would you do?

Writing Challenge

I am a writer.

Seriously.

Yeah, I know it’s hard to tell.

But it’s true.

What is also true is that I have been utterly unfaithful to my writing calling. Utterly. As of today, no more. Time to be true to myself. Time to stop the apologies for writing, for daydreaming, for imagining, for spending so much time inside my head. Today I grant myself the freedom to be me without feeling guilty.

Last fall I participated in National Novel Writing Month, AKA NaNo. Every year during November writers all over the world converge on the web to encourage each other to write 50,000 words in one month. Crazy? Yes. But, oh, so much fun. For several years I kind of half heartedly participated, typically dropping out after a week or less. But last fall, really late summer, I decided I really wanted to win NaNo. I started late September prepping for the November marathon by setting a goal of writing at least 100 words in my journal every day. Every. Single. Day. Guess what? I did it. By mid October I woke up with a need to get some words out of my pen onto the paper of my journal.

Roll on November 1, 2014 and the beginning of NaNo.

I attended a local write in. I highly recommend doing that if you ever participate in NaNo. I only made it to one, but it makes the online group a little more personal.

I attended several online write ins in our local group’s chat room. What fun! What inspiration! I wrote several thousand words during our chat room word wars.

By the third week of November I knew I was in a good position to finish strong. But that saggy middle, oh will it come back to bite you in the tail! That was hard. Perhaps the hardest, and maybe worst, writing I’ve ever done. And no one, not one soul, will ever read it as is. Ever. Don’t ask. I cried, kicked, screamed, thought about giving up. But I pushed through that week to enter the last week of November ready to finish strong.

On November 29, 2014, I reached my goal. I won NaNo for the first time!! My word count for the month: 50,227 words. I am still proud of myself for that.

But then I stopped. I closed that Word file. I put down my pen. I didn’t even write in my journal for a few weeks.

All that hard work and momentum. And I just freaking stopped. Stupid. Just plain stupid and lazy. And weak.

Enough beating myself up. And also enough ignoring my passion.

That’s where the title of this post comes in, the writing challenge part. My challenge to myself is to write 500 words per day. Doesn’t matter whether those 500 words are a blog post, journal entry, or part of my novel in progress. For my personal challenge, at least 500 words have to be on a single piece of writing. I will also post a weekly update every Sunday evening.

Are you a writer? Have you allowed yourself to stop writing? Are you tired of excuses? Join me in this challenge.

Reflections on the First Day of NaNoWriMo 2014

NaNoWriMo (AKA What the heck was I thinking) started November 1. I’ve signed up for the craziness before, but never really gave it my best shot. But this year is different. Not only do I have a different mind-set about, I have a story I like, and it just feels different.

So of course the few days leading up to NaNo kick-off some negativity started creeping into my thinking. But I silenced those negative voices with a first day word count of 4194. Yay me!

But what’s not so public is that a handful of local writer friends and I participate in our own little month-long marathon every October. I’ve always set some lofty goal that I’ve never reached. I decided to do something different for October 2014 marathon. I needed to get my mojo back after not writing for a couple of years.

My goal was to write something, anything, one sentence every single day of October. I needed writing to be a habit again, needed writing to become a need again.

I have written something every day since September 26, 2014. Again-Yay me!

My dream never left me, never died like I thought. It was there underneath all the negativity, underneath all the fear.

One Small Step

Big deep breath…

I took a huge (for me) step this morning. I ordered business cards. 

Gulp.

They’re very simple-nothing but my name and contact information. But it’s a step in presenting myself as a professional writer, as someone serious about reaching for her dreams with concrete actions.

Gulp.

What was the first significant action you took to make yourself feel more like a “real” writer before you were published?

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