Tag Archives: mental-health

Some Words Sunday — WriMo Sprints

Welcome June!

Cafe Office

Cafe Office

For some of you, June is the beginning of summer vacations and the end of school days (or for those in the southern hemisphere, the exact reverse).

For me, it’s June Novel Writing Month (JuNoWriMo for short).

Last year I got involved with JuNoWriMo because I needed to get more work done on some old NaNoWriMo manuscripts.  The people at NaNoWriMo were running camps for two summer months but acceptance of NaNoRebels hadn’t fully sunk in to the NaNo community then.

Well, those of you who know me know I tend to jump in with both feet when I find something I like.  Although it was my first year, I went right in and help host sprints (although I wasn’t that active in the site forums).  I had a blast!  I even ran the CampNaNoWriMo simultaneously, clocking over 122K words for the month in two manuscripts.

I also learned some things (and with my ROW80 experiences, I have even more tools to use for this passion of mine).

One of these is how to best handle a sprint, not just for the day or the moment.  But how to do writing sprints in general…

See, there are a lot of writing sprints out there, especially on Twitter.  I like #wordmongering and the #teamsprinty sprints probably best of all because the communities are so close (the iWriteNetwork on Ning is wonderful too, but it involves adding another layer of process that slows down getting to the actual writing more than I like).  Thing is, as much as I love these groups, I think they handle the health of the sprinter badly.

This may be a shock to you, but it’s not healthy to sit in one place and just fill pages with words for hours and hours a day.  But it’s not just the days of writing.  It’s the hours too.  In fact…  it’s a half hour and less.

Moment of Heaven

Moment of Heaven

So, may I modestly suggest some rules (call them guidelines) that I wish to see more often used during writing sprints, not just for WriMos but in general.  (These do not all involve health issues, obviously.)

Rules?  I thought We Just Had to Write

  1. Be prepared!  Have playlists ready, have the caffeinated (or alcoholic) drink of choice poured and seasoned to taste, have a small snack available (nuts or something with a bit of protein and fiber and fat in it would be ideal–brain power demands fuel too)–this is not an excuse to just nibble.  If all is going well, you’ll be writing too much to get that cup to your lips more than once during the sprint.  The snack might end up waiting until your break.
  2. Be prepared mentally!  It’s not enough to say have all your shit together.  You need to have your head in the game too.  Have an idea of where your story will  head.  Know what characters you are going to write about.  Have a visual image of the setting and the situation ready to write.  Have notes and pictures that you can look at if you need them.  Be ready to dive in at the start of the prompt.
  3. When your sprint-host says to write–Write.  Don’t check email; don’t stare at your keyboard–write–even if it’s “I don’t know what Sally is doing now”.
  4. If you don’t know what to write (next time–see rule 2), then ask your sprint-host for a prompt.  We have them–lots of them.  I like to use visual prompts of pictures and videos, but I also use text prompts.  When you get your prompt, follow rule 3.
  5. Stop writing when your sprint-host says the sprint is done.  Don’t write through to the next sprint.  Sprints are usually spaced with a 5 to 10 min break.  This break is for your health and comfort.  Get up, move, stretch a little…. go to the bathroom, whatever.  Do not just sit and type.  The ideas will hold that long.*
  6. Talk to your sprint-host; yes, we are doing our own stories too, but we like to know what we can do to help make things better.  We like feedback, encouragement, even banter.  Twitter is supposed to be a social network not just another office.
"LIFE" features prominiently

“LIFE” features prominently

And of course, I don’t have to make this a rule… Have FUN!  Writers write because we love words and stories.  If we didn’t, there are enough people who do who could do this work for us.  We could just read while sitting on the beach drinking Mai Tais (okay, well, maybe not that).  Thing is, writing doesn’t pay that much, not even when you start adding in the best sellers (if one adds in all the writing time before the big break and/or the money and time spent in promotion–well, more than a few are just starting to break even now).

Yeah? Well, My Muse Hates you now

OK, I hear you grumbling.  My muse needs nurturing.  I can’t get anything done without spending time in the flow.  Yadda yadda… Being “in the moment” or “maintaining  the flow” sound great…  all of those streams of consciousness saying sound good wonderful, but the flow is actually pretty forgiving–especially if you nurture it well.

Make a Sunshine Date with your muse (or a cold cellar walk for the emo-types).  Share a (skinny) latte with him/her…  Invite your muse for a few minutes of dancing to a favorite song.

Make the breaks fun, and your muse will hang around and be happier about helping you when you get back to work.

* If you are that afraid you will forget, take a little piece of paper and scribble down a note or two while standing.  The act of moving increases blood flow (which fires up the brain), and the act of writing helps build cellular connections that make remembering something easier.

ROW80 Check-In

Dungeon Office

Dungeon Office

Fellow ROWers probably will recognize the theme of this post as similar to that of my sponsor post this ROWnd.  I am adamant about the need for us to take care of ourselves.

For the next month, since I’m involved in the JuNoWriMo, I will be spending a lot more time writing than I need for my Five Sentences (I still am–I do sprints on the computer and then add Five Sentences in a notebook before bed).  The Five Sentences framework works though.  I use at them end of my daily total (min 1667 words) for that extra boost.

Thing about this JuNoWriMo….  I’m actually editing as much as writing.  Last fall, I made a very sketchy draft of Courting the Swan Song, more of a very detailed outline really.  Now I’m filling in that outline, adding (and subtracting) words as they fit the Swan Song series.

This ability, btw, is why I love JuNoWriMo (and the redesigned CampWriMos) so much.  It’s total word count on whatever project you need to work on, not word count on a new story.

ROW80LogocopyIn addition, my social media time is sky-rocketing because of the WriMo, but also becoming more focused.  I’m still doing my rounds of Facebook and Google+, and I hope to indulge a touch more time on Flickr and Reddit, but will probably save those for once a week.  Most of my online time will be Twitter-based.  Most of my writing will start in 750words and then move to Scrivener (that pattern worked well for me last year, giving me an online rough copy and then a home copy for tweaking).

And lastly, I fully intend to retain time for family and friends, as well as my passions of reading, photos, piano, and guitar.  Yeah…  I can do it all.  😀

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What’s With Wednesday — Take Five

If you’ve read these posts for any amount of time, you know my family has been hit with some serious “ick”.  My mother thinks we may have had the flu–if so, we’re surviving well enough that I’m still glad we didn’t get the shots.

In the long run, I think we’ll be better off.

Cat Nap

Cat Nap

For now, however, I’m following my body’s demands–a last cat nap before I must be more active.  You see, next ROW80 round, I volunteered to be a sponsor–that means I will be online and more active in the blogosphere starting the beginning of the month.

And there is a shorter than average break between rounds this time.  Usually the pause is about ten days.   This time…  it’s less than four.

Considering this, I gave myself permission, starting Sunday evening to just rest and “play” a little.  I’ve watched television and read books and played video games.  I’ve done some house cleaning catch-up, desk straightening, clothes sorting, shelf-emptying…

I’ve crocheted; I’ve doodled…  I’ve napped.

I have not been online much.  I have not played any of my Facebook games, I have not participated in any ROW80 sprints, and I have not written much of anything.

I have had some great fanfic dreams, and even started mulling new directions in my more serious works.  Lots of good stuff actually…

Anyway, I’ve been taking five.  I’m going to continue to do so until this Sunday when I will be posting my Round 2 goals.  I will still post a Friday Photo this week to welcome Spring.  A little pick-me-up never hurt anyone….

Here ends my closing post for Round 1 of A Round of Words in 80 Days 2013;  I had little to report today, but sometimes the less said, the more taken in.  The round was a good one in general.  I met (and usually exceeded) my writing and social media goals.  My fitness goals fell by the wayside as did many of my editing goals…although this Sunday and Monday I actually made up some lost ground there.

In all, it was an excellent ROWnd.

The ROW That Should Have Been

This isn’t quite the end of the ROW, but it seems a good time to reassess this thing I have (as my husband points out) put myself through.  Maybe consider things I have done or need to do.  Not as easy as it feels as if it should be–it’s as if the mind became stopped with all the social media and blogging.

That’s how I feel of late.  I have nightly dreams about blogging and commenting on blogs and nightmares about making a dumb statement because I’m overtired (another thing that seems to have happened since starting this process–I am perpetually tired and dosed up on pain relievers for the tension headaches).  I’m overtired.  I’ve taken to spending far more time at my computer trying to keep up with the blogs and the pages referred to in each blog, plus my research and my ….

It has to stop.

Deutsch: Zentrale Heterochromie: Grüne Iris, u...

Image via Wikipedia

No, not my participation in the ROW80.  If anything, all of this grief has taught me an incredibly useful lesson.  I need to participate, because I need to find my functioning point.  Until this, I hadn’t realized how little I was connecting with people.  Not just online, but in real life.  I was able to write fiction, but it seemed to be the product of me evading the rest of the world unless I wished to “use it” for research or creative fuel of some kind or another.  Or escapism.  Plenty of escapism.

But I also didn’t have to “answer” to anyone; I didn’t have to connect.  If my husband asked how the writing was going, I could ask him to read a section and he would say something along the lines of “Eventually”, (which isn’t as bad as it seems, since he did start reading stuff, though not for long).  The point is, my writing world and my real world lived in two different vacuums and it was nothing to get completely swallowed up in them and have nothing to do with the other.  And the only common ground seemed to be my son and my husband.  They were part and parcel of me…  And I couldn’t escape them in either place.

Not that I wanted to.   Most of the time….

So, let’s look at what my original goals way back at the beginning of January were….  Eek!  Looks like I didn’t get very far with most of them.  If I had to do a line by line: well…

  1.  Review Progress Weekly: I did pretty much review and adjust my goals on a weekly basis.  In fact, I completely rewrote them once.
  2.  Learn New Creativity Tools: Failed on this.  After my failure with Tweetdeck, I stopped.  I never picked up Triberr or the mind-mapping software.  Heck, I never downloaded and setup the memory check disk that I was going to make to find out WHY my desktop machine will sometimes just randomly reboot itself on me or just freeze (no blue screens here).  
  3.  Connect with Fellow ROWers: This I actually glowed at!  If it is possible to be too successful at something, I may have done that here.
  4.  3 Gym Visits a Week: Never renewed my YMCA membership, and am only getting back into exercising now, the old-fashioned way….yardwork!
  5. Fiction for Pleasure:  HAH!  I’ve spent most of my reading time on reading challenges….  And while some of the books were enjoyable, they always had this sense of “duty” to them.  I probably shouldn’t be doing reading challenges any more than I should have tried the 50/50/Me challenge.  But I am doing some, and I think they are worthy endeavors.
  6. Dance: I can’t say I managed every day, but yeah, I managed most days.  At least and 80% or greater success rate on this one.

Fortunately these goals were my “goals for the year” and I still have time to keep working on the,.  What do people say?  That it takes at least 30 days to do something before it becomes a habit?  Well, it’s not a habit yet (heck, with today’s post, I hit 171 days of writing at 750words.com and I still have to force myself to remember to type my words every night).  Maybe I just don’t have the kind of mind that builds habits as easily as some people do.

Critters - Clear It

Critters - Clear It (Photo credit: avlxyz)

No…  that’s certainly not it.  One only needs to look at my tea collection and my special pens and notebooks, or my need to have things in hardcopy to do line edits.  The biggest problem I had as a member of the online critique group Critters (which, BTW, I highly recommend to anyone in the speculative fiction areas.  They deal with short fiction mostly, but they also have a great program for novels) was hard copies.  It got to the point where I had so much paper devoted to these stories by other people–I was literally losing my own stories in the stacks.  And the trees?  They were so piked off they didn’t want any hugs from me.

But my quirks and habits aside, I did have another original set of goals focused solely on writing:

  1. But I never created that timeline.  It may end up being a Round 2 goal of it’s very own.
  2. I reworked the typing down to 5 pages (which I missed this week by one page, but since I had six for last week, it came out even)
  3. I managed about 350 words on my WiPs a day, not 500.
  4. Editing was so inconsistent it’s hard to tell if I kept up with it.  Some days I managed almost 10 pages, others I didn’t edit a word, not if the spellchecker didn’t complain about it…

So…  There we are.  It’s a process.  And despite all the failures, the successes seem to be holding their own.  I never meant it to be a one Round of Words game.  It’s about learning how to become a professional writer and about how to live as one.  Processes take time.  Learning often takes time.  And I have over forty years of relearning to do.

It’s all good.

So…  Here’s the linky tool.  Please check out some other ROWers and give them some love.   That’s part of what this community is about.