The Determination of Daffodils

Determined Daffodils
Determined Daffodils

March decided to leave like a lamb today, and I got to work on this blog post while sitting outside on my deck—in a warm sweater. The hydro corridor and all the backyards that I can see are still covered in a thick layer of snow, but the sky is blue and there is some real warmth in the sun.

We have a narrow flower bed along the sidewalk that leads to our front door. For the first time yesterday, I could see daffodil leaves peeking out through the snow. The daffodils had actually been growing while they were still covered. Now that’s determination—and a reminder to me to be more persistent in finding ways to pursue my writing goals when I’m snowed under by life and its craziness. I find it far too easy to put the writing aside when things get hectic. I’m sure that while my daffodils were covered in two feet of snow, they weren’t surging ahead an inch at a time. They were growing incrementally, a millimetre at a time. That’s what I need to learn to do. If I can’t write a lot, I need to write for just a little bit (even if it’s just a couple of sentences or a paragraph), look something up, do some clustering or brainstorming around one of the topics or characters–but do something!

One part of life’s craziness will be ending soon, when my school year comes to a close in a few weeks. It’s time to start getting my writing life back in order, instead of (unsuccessfully) trying to balance school, freelancing, writing, and family. I’m hoping that with one thing less on my plate, the writing will get back to being the priority it should be and that the energy to get creative will come back, too.  I’ll be very glad to get rid of the guilt and pay proper attention to the two books that have been on hold for the last little while.

Time for a personal writing challenge again to get me back on track. I have two books-in-progress. I have completed the first draft of one and need to do the editing and revisions. The other is in the first draft stage with several chapters finished, but lots to write yet. For the month of April, I will work on one of my books every day. It’s time to make time to get the work done. I’ll keep you posted.

To put a little spring in your writing, here are some writing prompts for April.

1. Use one, some, or all of these words in a story or poem:

  • Ice, fence, ribbon, branch, sky, warning
  • Tower, pierce, call, shadow, lonely, spare

2. Try one of these opening sentences and see where it leads:

  • Finally, the road was clear and we had our chance.
  • Lily was always so careful.
  • I had never seen Henry that angry.
  • I should have listened to my mother.
  • I knew it would be a mistake if we stayed here too long.
  • “Do you think we’ve dug it deep enough?”

3. What scene can you invent to go with these lines of dialogue?

  • I don’t think you’re giving him a fair chance.
  • I gave him a chance.
  • I said ‘a fair chance.’

 

  • I thought you were bringing Lucy.
  • I did. She’s right behind me.
  • No. She’s not.

 

  • Parker said to be there by six o’clock.
  • So what if we’re a few minutes late.
  • You don’t know Parker.

 

  • You can’t leave yet. We haven’t made a decision.
  • You’re right. We haven’t made a decision—but I have.

 

  • I can’t find Jacob anywhere.
  • Jacob can be pretty hard to find.
  • I don’t know where else to look.
  • I know one place you haven’t tried.

4. Here are some titles. Can you think of a story to go with one of them?  Voices in the Wind, The Motel Mystery, Rocky Roads, Bonds of Blood, The Last House, Third Chances, To Sleep Perchance to Dream.

5. If you’ve experienced some severe weather this winter or have read about severe weather in other parts of your country or the world, imagine your characters dealing with these conditions. Think of all the things that you could do to test them—no power, no heat, no food, no way to communicate, etc. How do your characters deal with hardship? What do they learn about themselves and others? Is there a place in your story where you can use this new knowledge or add some adverse weather conditions to move your plot along?

26 Days and Still Writing

photo by Jenny Kaczorowski WANA Commons
Time Disappears in a Good Book                       photo by Jenny Kaczorowski WANA Commons

My personal NaNoWriMo has been chugging along for 26 days now, and, I’ve produced over 16,600 words so far. Compared to those writers who are meeting and surpassing their 50,000-word goal already, it might not seem like much, but it’s a big accomplishment for me. Did I miss a couple of days? Yes. Did I move on, and keep writing? Yes! For me that was the important part–not quitting.

I had a lot on my plate this month, which I won’t take the space to itemize, but belonging to a group of people who posted their progress and encouragement daily and who faced their own challenges made a big difference to my own self-encouragement and to my determination not to let them or myself down. I can’t say enough about the value of having some writing buddies in your life who are positive and respectful and for whom you want to do your best.

To meet my check-ins this month, I wrote at times of day (and night) that I never would have considered remotely feasible. Has that made a difference to my writing life? Definitely! I have always considered myself strictly a morning person. The best time of day for me to write was first thing, and if I missed that opportunity … well, there just wasn’t much point in even trying at any other time of day. Was I ever WRONG! It was so important for me to get the words down for my check-in, that I wrote at all sorts of times of day, and discovered that in order to be able to string words together good enough for a first draft, I needed no special time or place. Wow! Talk about freedom! And a lesson has taken me waaaaay too long to learn. Armed with that knowledge now, I feel hugely excited about meeting my next goals.

So when the month is over, can I take what I’ve learned and go back to being a solitary writer and still write every day? I’ve been a part of three writing challenges this year, and, except for the odd glitch that gets thrown into everyone’s life,  I’ve stuck to my goals every time. I’m ready to stick to this, too. I’ll be checking in with my own writing log after November 30th. I’ll keep you posted. 🙂

For those of you south of my border, I wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends. And for everyone, you have all my good wishes for lots of creative days ahead!

Planning for 2013

photo by Jenny Kaczorowski WANA Commons
Time Disappears in a Good Book Photo by Jenny Kaczorowski WANA Commons

The writing challenge that I set myself 22 days ago is progressing well. I haven’t missed a day, though I pulled couple of late nights to make sure that I kept to my commitment. I’m looking forward to reading all the crazy things I’ve written when the challenge is over. Writing whatever comes to mind has been a very “interesting” process.Today, and for the next couple of weeks, I’m focusing on making plans for my freelance writing business for 2013. I’m looking for ways to grow my services by developing a training course in clear writing for local businesses and by expanding my creative writing workshops into more schools, and by … Well, you get the idea.

The task of setting business goals is a lot easier with some guidance from other experienced writers. Here’s a link to Paul Lima’s chapter from Everything You Wanted to Know About Freelance Writing. Whether you are in business or not, answering the questions that Paul poses here will help you create a plan that will help you reach your goals.

Another link that certainly helped me get my goals in perpective is from Kristi Holl at Writer’s First Aid. Here she talks about small goals that she believes will make a big difference to her writing output next year. http://kristiholl.net/writers-blog/2012/11/simplified-writing-goals-for-2013/ Also have a look at Set Goals NOW for 2013, and with Kristi’s and Paul’s suggestions enjoy New Year’s Day knowing that you’ve done good work to make 2013 your best year yet.

Do you take the time to make yearly plans for your business or your writing life? Do you have any resources or suggestions that help with goal setting and planning?

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