Daily Writing Check-in: March 22, 2019

I actually have no writing work of any kind to report, but I wanted to post to just say that I’m still here, and haven’t fallen into a writing hole. Since I’ve had this blog, I have seen those times where I do well writing almost every day for a stretch, and then just stop for months at a time. And one of those times turned into almost 3 years away.

This break so far has lasted about 10 days. The first few days I skipped were due to major stress related to my job. By evening, when I normally get to my writing work, I just wanted to do something mindless during my free time. That situation dragged on, and has actually led to me basically quitting my job, only agreeing to stay on in a minor capacity. Looking back and seeing how often, even in the last few months when I’ve had a better writing habit again, I skipped a day because of work, I can see why this was a good decision. Not because it kept me from my writing work, but because most of the time that I skipped a day or two, it was because of having a very rough day at work. And because of what I know causes that stress, it’s time to move on.

Though I do have what could be up to 2 months ahead of me before I can fully step down from my main duties, due to needing to train others, and help the company get past certain things that I am best-suited to help them with, I am already somewhat less stressed than I have been in a long time, just simply by making this decision.

Moving on, I didn’t do any writing work today, because I was gone until too late to get to it. Tomorrow is a maybe, because I have to work until evening and get up super early on Sunday. But I do plan to take some time on Sunday and really dive back into what I was last working on. I do not want this to turn into a prolonged break.

I also think it is likely that part of the reason that I dropped off so completely is that the current task I am working on is turning out to be very difficult. In my last post, I said that the goal I am currently working toward is going to be a marathon, not a sprint. So since the difficulties of the next few months are likely to continue to take an emotional toll on me, I need to be careful to not push myself  to do more in a day than my brain can handle, when working on an already difficult task.

Daily Writing Check-in: October 21, 2017

Words/Time: 2 hours

As I try to work my way back to a daily writing habit while working a demanding job, I had to come to a decision to not push myself if I didn’t have time or mental energy to do much writing work. I read a blog post that talked about finding ways to keep the mind in the writing, even when you can’t spend much time on it. I realized that the best way to avoid dropping back off again, or experiencing frustration or guilt over not doing any work, was to allow myself to do anything that kept my mind in the stories as my writing work for the day, even if it wasn’t strictly writing (or planning, revising, etc).

Yesterday I felt a little odd about saying that the work I did for the day was creating aesthetics for stories that I’ve already written at least a partial draft of. But after a long week of a lot of working and a lot of leaving the house for work (I normally work from home as much as I can, and as a major introvert, leaving the house to go somewhere 5 days of the week, and knowing there’s a lot more of that coming next week, has worn me down), I just couldn’t get my mind back into the writing. So I worked on those aesthetics some more, and finished them. That’s what I did for 2 hours today.

Tomorrow I will hopefully be rested enough to get back to my outline, or at least more character discovery for the protagonist in my NaNoNovel.


For anyone out there who is participating in NaNoWriMo, feel free to check out my series of tips and tricks for the month, and also to add me as a writing buddy! (Let me know you came from here, and I’ll add you back!)

A New Day

I’ve been ready to write this post for about a week now. It’s the first one in almost a year and a half, so I knew it had to be epic, witty, or at least insightful. But I don’t want to write that post. I do want to address it, but in simple words. Though knowing myself as I do, it still may not be short.

At the beginning of last year, I submitted my first novel to publishers, after spending several years creating it. Without knowing if that first novel would be worth publishing, I tried to move on to revising my second novel. Then, I got a job. It was a part-time weekend job at first, working as a game master at an escape room company, but quickly became more than that, with sporadic hours. These two things together pulled me away from my regular writing work, which I’d been fairly consistent with for a few years (minus short hiatuses now and then).

In August last year, I changed to full-time with my job and became a manager. That only solidified my lack of time and mental energy to do any writing. I remember hoping that November, which would bring NaNoWriMo, would help me jump-start back into my writing.

Some time during all of this, I got a couple of rejection letters for my novel, but I was so caught up in how life was going at the time, I barely registered them.

Then in September, my dad had a heart attack and subsequent 6-bypass surgery. He’s doing well now, but was very close to death for about a week (not to be too dramatic). As NaNo approached, I decided to rebel a bit and write about the time he was in the hospital, both because he had a strong desire to know what had happened, and because I thought it might be cathartic for me.

I had a difficult time with the writing, and didn’t even get all of the events written, but I did finish NaNoWriMo. Unfortunately, because of my full-time job and the nature of my writing, NaNo did not help me return to my writing.

Fast forward almost a year, and I am now working 20 hours a week (approximately) at the same job, now as Director of Operations. The anniversary of my dad’s heart attack was last month, and he and my mom brought up the writing I said I was doing for NaNoWriMo last year. My dad has been trying to remember everything that happened during his 3-week hospital stay, and hopes that what I had written down would help.

It was still in “NaNo-form,” though, which means typos, things marked for deletion, and generally just hard to read. So I started going back through it, trying to put it in some semblance of a readable form, reading it along the way myself. While doing that, I started going back to other things I’ve written.

Over the course of the 3 weeks, I’ve read through just about everything I’ve written in the last 10 years, from the 2 complete novels, to partially drafted novels, to writing practice, drabbles, ideas, and even some of the fanfiction I wrote early on. I’m starting to have the itch to get back into it, and in some ways, I feel like I’ve just popped my head out of the cave I’ve been hunkered in for the last 17 months.

Going forward, I am going to work on writing as often as I can. I’m not going to pretend that I will be able to do writing work every day like I used to strive for. But even for the last week or so, I’ve already been writing out an outline for a story I’m not sure I want to write, but can’t avoid thinking about, so needed to at least get it down. That passion for just getting the words out is something I really miss, and I want to embrace it.

I think one of the things that disappoints me most about my time in the cave is that I barely remember participating in NaNoWriMo last year. I didn’t blog about it at all; I barely even finished. I enjoy going back later and reading through certain blog posts, remembering my writing journey, but 2016 NaNoWriMo is just a blank spot in my mind. I will be more deliberate this year.

My job, even at 20 hours a week, is still sporadic in the time those hours are put in. As Director of Operations, I am “on” from 9am until 11pm, 6 days a week, meaning that any time someone needs something from me, I’m generally expected to be available and respond. If I want to spend uninterrupted time with my family, I often have to schedule it.

I do enjoy my job. I design, implement, and modify escape rooms and get to be part of many other creative endeavors that our company is always working on. But I know that one of the reasons I do so well at that job is because, in my heart, I am a writer! 

i am a writer

This is from NaNoToons 2015. I don’t even remember last year’s NaNoToons…

For the approaching NaNoWriMo, I want to get back to traditional roots and write a new work of fiction. To do that, I have to sort through ideas I already have, see if any of them are ready to be expanded to a full outline, or decide to start something from scratch. Today begins NaNo prep season (I’m not sure how official that is, but October 1st always feels like the beginning of NaNo prep time to me). I am all in.

Loading Witty Title…

Wow, this place is dusty. I mean, really dusty. Layers of dirt and cobwebs everywhere. It’s not the first time I’ve taken an unintended break from my writing, letting it fall to the side for more than a month, but I think this is the longest gap I’ve had in posts since starting this blog. Previous breaks from writing were at least peppered with good intentions of trying to return, a day here or there where I’d post, and then still fall back into the break.

But it has been almost 2 full months since I posted even an attempt at keeping up with my writing. Which is because I haven’t attempted to keep up with my writing since February 17th. Looking back through my blog, it was even before that that I really started into this slump. It’s interesting to me, at least, to see the progression. It went something like this:

I finished revising my first novel, “Pithea,” to the point of even being able to send it off to a few publishing companies.

I dove right into revising my second novel, the first draft of which had already been written.

I got a new job on the weekends, which largely affected the rest of the week enough to make finding time and energy to write more difficult.

I hit an early roadblock in revising my second novel, and more time and thinking was required to push past it.

My new job started to ask more of me than I expected, including working during the week for a few weeks, thus exhausting me more and making things more strained at home.

I made a conscious decision to put off revising for a few weeks, dropped my daily writing habit, and let myself be lazy in the evenings (my normal writing time) instead of pushing myself to sit at my desk and get some writing work done.

It’s important to note that I am one who in the past has insisted that even people who lead busy lives should be able to find time to write. And I’m not saying now that it’s not true, but I definitely have more perspective on that now. It only took one change to my life and normal routine to throw me off enough to just give up on writing for a while. It took me two months to get to where I am right now, which is starting to feel a strong enough desire to get back to my writing that I’m willing to put aside the lazy evenings for more structured ones again.

It may take a few weeks to be back to where I was for 9 months before this break, writing almost every day. I don’t know when I’ll have time or ideas for another Write Every Day post. It may even take me a few wasted evenings of going back over what I was last doing in my work before I’m able to make any real progress. But the important thing is that I’m finally feeling up to it again.

Something else that bothers me about this break I took is that I fell away from all things writing and blogging. I haven’t read posts by others that I normally keep up with, and I know there’s no way I can find time to go back through 2 months worth of posts (not that I follow all that many blogs regularly).  I’m going to scan through my WP reader and try to hit the highlights, but I don’t want to take so much time reading that it hurts my attempt to start writing again.

I do want to say that I appreciate those of you who contacted me during the last few months to check in or ask if everything was okay. I’m sorry I didn’t respond at the time. I didn’t mean to be rude or anti-social, I just couldn’t get my head into the right space to think about any of this. Hopefully that makes at least some sense.

Thanks for reading my rambling. I hope things get back to normal around here soon. I miss my story world, and even the blogging world I’d created.

Daily Writing Check-in: February 21, 2016

Words/Time:  455 words of free writing about the main character of “Pursuit of Power.”

I’m trying really hard to pull myself back into writing, since I’ve been doing even less than I’d anticipated (which was already less than normal for me) for the last few weeks. It is mostly because of the new job, but also because I think I was more burnt out than I realized after finishing the revision on my first novel. Trying to dive right into the next one was unwise, and instead of taking a break from revision, while still writing every day, I just…didn’t want to write or anything like it, at all.

But I also work for the weekend, though in a backwards way than most people. My new job is on Friday and Saturdays. Sometimes I feel like all week, I’m just trying to keep everyday chores and things caught up, so when the weekend comes, it’s as easy on my family for me to be gone for 2 days as possible.

On the plus side, though, the job is so much fun! If it wasn’t, this would all be pushing me to a point of exhaustion that could lead to horrible things. In fact, my bosses are planning to create a shortened-length escape room (normal length is 60 minutes, this one will be 15) to set up for one evening during a fundraiser at a local independent theater. I’ve come up with a lot of ideas for them, in the theme they’re planning, and they’ve asked me to help them plan out the room sometime this week. More work, but it’s just this week, and I loveloveLOVE the idea of helping to create an escape room. I was hoping this might be a possibility someday when I started working there. If it goes well, maybe I’ll get to help with their next full room.

Daily Writing Check-in: February 11, 2016

Words/Time:  525 words of writing practice with a prompt.

I’ve decided to put off revision for a few weeks while I settle into a new schedule, with me working every Friday and Saturday. It affects the rest of the week, if only because I have to budget my time differently, not having those two days free. Two days ago, I realized there were some big things I need to figure out before I can really dive into my first full revision of “Pursuit of Power,” but I don’t have the focus I need to figure them out.

I’m going to keep up free writing as best I can for the next few weeks, now and then focusing that writing on how to solve some of these issues. The biggest issue is how to start the novel. When I wrote the first draft, I forgot to write it with my narrator, a man who is writing from 10-15 years in the future, compiling accounts from different people involved in the events of these stories. Writing from his POV doesn’t actually change a lot, because he’s not in much of the story, so it still reads like 3rd person. However, right off the bat, I have to find a way to introduce him, and it has me stumped.

I also want to do some free writing with specific characters in mind, focusing on a different character for several days at a time. I found this helped me while revising “Pithea” to get into the head of some side characters who weren’t very well-developed. Though I’ll probably start with the main characters.

All of this I hope will give me better perspective on the story as a whole when I am ready to revise again. And I’m still writing, just not on my main project.

Daily Writing Check-in: February 8, 2016

Words/Time:  638 words of free writing to try to develop a secondary character, and 37 minutes of revision, working up a possible prologue for “Pursuit of Power.”

Despite my beliefs that my little vacation from writing would still result in some free writing being done now and then, that didn’t happen after the first day. The truth is, once I step away for a day or two in favor of just being lazy and relaxing in the evening, it’s just too easy to not go back. That’s why I normally try to do at least a little writing work every day that I have any time for it. Without the habit, I’m lost.

In the end, the break turned out to be a really helpful thing. Not because I got any clarity in my writing, but because it was relaxing to just not worry about it for 10 days. I thought often about what I’d be doing when I got back to it, but I didn’t have any grand epiphanies or anything.

But the main reason it was helpful is because it kept me from stressing over whether I could get to my writing work or not this last weekend, when I had a huge change in my life. I started a new job. This is a pretty big deal, because I’m a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom. I already work for my dad, but I work an average of a day a week, and I take my kids with me. This will be the first job outside of my home/family that I’ve had since before my almost 14-year-old son was born. The job wasn’t sought out, but was offered to me, and it will be part-time out of necessity (because I do still have 2 kids to take care of and homeschool during the week).

I’ll be working as a game master at an escape room company, which means I’ll be behind the scenes running the room when groups come in to play. For as much fun as playing a room is, watching others play it is the next best thing. I honestly can’t believe I’m going to be paid to do something so much fun.

My first day was last Friday, which was right when I was ready to start back to writing. I was set to work until around 11:30-12 at night, though, which is pretty much the end of my normal writing time. So I just extended my writing break until the end of the weekend. From this point forward, I’ll be working most Friday and Saturday evenings, so my writing time on the weekend might be severely limited in the future. But I’ll still have time the rest of the week, and it’s worth it for a job that promises to be a blast.