Thursday, December 29, 2011

Guess Who's Back!

This is me, throwing my hat into the ring for 2012 Round 1.

No, I haven't suddenly decided I'm a writer again. And no, unlike most of the people who participate in A Round of Words in 80 Days, I have no desire to write professionally in any capacity. In fact, as I've so often stated, I'm one of the "evil" November writers. I participate in National Novel Writing Month and often don't write at all the rest of the year. That's why ROW80 is such a good idea. It's motivation for people who want to be writers to... you know... write.

Me? I'm back in this to try to reach some kind of conclusion to my still-untitled November novel. And no, it will never see the light of day after I write "The End" on it. I want to finish it because I'm tired of unfinished November novels. (I may even go back and finish a few of the previous ones, as well. We shall see.)

I have an overall goal in mind, and the "measurable" steps to get there. That, of course, must wait for the Goal Post on January 2. Ish.

See you then!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The End of the Line

I stated in Entry #1 of this blog one very simple truth about myself: I'm not a writer. I play at it in November, and sometimes I think about scenes and ideas during the rest of the year. Thinking, for some reason, that I could translate my November enthusiasm to a year-long (broken down quarterly) challenge, I dove head-first into the ROW80 pool.

And smacked the bottom and drowned. (Proverbially, of course. It would be pretty difficult to be writing up a closing entry if I were dead.)

Kait Nolan has a wonderful idea: A challenge designed to fit writing into your life. The block I stumbled over is the fact that writing is a very low priority in mine. NaNoWriMo is the exception rather than the rule. It was clear to me that the primary reason I participate in NaNoWriMo is the social side of things rather than the writing.

Most of the people I encountered during ROW80 (thanks to the regular Linky provided) are actual, real writers who want to make some kind of career out of it. ROW80 is perfect for them. It makes them set their goals, gives them something solid to reach for, and helps keep them on task. If life gets in the way, it gives them the freedom to alter their goals to compensate. When life backs off again, they can adjust their goals further. (Let's face it -- unless you're a no-life slacker like me, you have unexpected things arise that totally screw with your plans. That's just how it goes.)

Well... none of that applies to me.

I'm not an actual, real writer who wants to make a career out of it. I don't have a life to get in the way of a writing challenge. I'm just... lazy.

So I failed. Hard.

In 80 days of the challenge, 58 of them had no writing. (42 of those were consecutive, and ran from February 10 through the end.) I hadn't intended to quit, but I just didn't write. I didn't feel like it, and there was nothing to lose by not doing so. I wasn't sabotaging a wanted career... and it's not like anything I'll write will ever see the light of day. (It's all a daydream, really.)

Again, I want to stress that the idea behind ROW80 is fantastic, and I would recommend it for anyone who wants to make writing a priority. I'm even contemplating coming back for Round 3... but for now, as of this moment, it's not for me. I'll be sitting out Round 2 but secretly cheering on all of you hoopy froods who are brave enough to do it again.

Thank you, Ms. Nolan, for putting together this challenge for writers. I hope everyone who participates reaches their goals and achieves their dreams.

Check the Blog Hop to see how everyone else did in Round 1.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Week 6 Wrap-Up

Oh, look... another late check-in with more slacking to report.

I finished out week 6 with 2.5/6, writing Monday through Wednesday (not a surprise) but not Thursday through Sunday (also not a surprise). (Friday is my day off from writing anyway.) Wednesday, I didn't write the full 750 words; this is why there's a half-credit in the total.

Definitely better than the 1/6 that was week 5.

At this point, Round One has become an exercise in adding words to a story I've lost all interest in. I'll continue to do this through the end, and Round Two, if I participate again, will hopefully be a story I can maintain interest in. (That's one reason I'm not a writer. I can rarely maintain interest.)

So until the next (probably late) check-in...

The February 13 Check-in Blog Hop

Monday, February 7, 2011

Week 5, Part II

As expected (self-fulfilling prophecy, mayhap?), Week 5 ended with 1/6. The battle for motivation was lost. I wrote last Monday, and that was it. Strangely, I'm okay with that.

No promises for how Week 6 will go -- managed to get sick over the weekend, so I'm fighting coughs and sleepiness as well as the non-motivation monster. Meh. It's not over yet.

The February 6 Check-in Blog Hop

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Week 5, Part I

How many of us are surprised that the check-in post is late? (Yes, I'm pretending someone would actually keep up with this blog.)

Week 5 of A Round of Words in 80 Days has not gone swimmingly so far. I'm lacking this drive that brought the rest of the participants here in the first place: Motivation.

I'm not a writer. I'm a writing hobbyist. Actually, even that phrase overstates what the written word is to me. I like writing, but it's not something I'm passionate about. I have no wish to make it a living, though I do still hold out the delusion that I will one day publish something -- prolly self-published. (If it doesn't happen, I won't lose any sleep over it.) I'm among one-monthers -- the ones who do National Novel Writing Month but no other writing the rest of the year.

The cool thing about ROW80 is how personalized the challenge is. You set your goal(s). You work to meet your goal(s). You check in on how your goal(s) progress(es). You keep yourself accountable. Others are doing this thing with you, but they're all chasing goals that they set. They don't have to meet your goal(s), and you don't have to meet theirs.

The very important part about this being so personalized is that you don't compare yourself with the other people in the challenge. And this is where I almost invariably fail.

Many of the others you will encounter on the Blog Hop (link posted below) are actual writers. They are people for whom the dream is strong or has even come true, to an extent. They still have day jobs, but are using ROW 80 to eke out time to make their writing goals happen, be it publishing for the first time or being able to quit that day job to focus entirely on writing.

I read of these folks who are Real Writers™ and think, "What the hell am I even doing here? I don't belong in this event with all of these writers around me. I'm just doing this for fun."

The truth is, however -- and this is the realization that ultimately keeps me doing ROW80 -- that my goal of "just doing this for fun" is just as valid as someone else's goal of writing for a living.

We're all in this ROW80 thing for our own reasons. At this moment, waffler that I am, my reasons for being here are not 100% clear. So while Week 5 may end up a bust (depending on how the weekend goes), I'm in this to the end of Round 1 at the very least.

The February 2 Check-In Blog Hop

Monday, January 31, 2011

Wrapping Up Week 4

The second half of week 4 went smoothly... ish. Wrote Thursday and Saturday, but not Friday or Sunday. I knew I wouldn't write Friday (see revised schedule from a previous entry). Somehow I also don't feel bad about Sunday, because Double XP Weekend on City of Heroes took precedent this time out. (My Scrapper is FINALLY level 48 -- just two more til I hit that cap!) Final week 4 tally? 5/6.

Oh, and this check-in is late. Again.

Today, motivation was particularly low, but I did manage to get my word count in -- with thirty minutes to spare before the date switches over. Not sure where I found it, either. Chalk it up to refusal to quit? (Yes, this should be part of Wednesday's check-in, but I may not remember it then.)

The January 30 Check-In Blog Hop

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Reality Check (In)

It's time to check in again.

After adjusting my daily word count goal (while keeping the weekly and final goals the same), I have thus far succeeded in writing on the new schedule. Today is also expected to be a success. (Monday through Wednesday are usually not in question, unless laziness REALLY sets in at lunchtime. It happens... but not usually.)

Still having the same problems with the story that I've been having all along, although I've determined how some of the characters will finally meet up. I think I've also figured out how not to make this an "overwhelming odds" kind of deal and what and why the critters are.

Now the hurdle becomes how to get the last two characters in on the "fun." And that whole ending thing that I always have trouble with.


Something occurred to me after reading Craig Hansen's comment to my last entry. As usual I was berating myself for my lack of weekend writing. My threat (to self) was to turn this in to a non-November NaNoWriMo until I caught up to my overall goal, and Mr. Hansen said that I didn't have to do that. I could change my goal.

This is true. If I were one of those people who had a wife, kids, two jobs, and countless commitments that I had to juggle -- you know, someone with a life -- I might have to stop and contemplate whether I'd bitten off more than I could chew taking on a writing challenge like ROW80.

But I don't have those things. (Especially a life.) It's just me, being too lazy to open up my document to remember where I was. Too lazy to go to to write. Just plain too lazy. Seriously -- 750 words a day is NOT a huge number of words. If I can write 1,667 words every day in November, there is no rational reason I can't write 750 the rest of the year.

For me, NaNoWriMo works because there is an arbitrary goal and an arbitrary deadline to reach it. There are no excuses. You either make the word count or you don't. While Mr. Hansen raises a valid point that once people start to fall behind, they opt to drop out rather than stretch their limits, I feel that those people often sell themselves short or didn't realize the amount of effort writing can take.

With NaNoWriMo, you have to make yourself write if you hope to "win" the challenge. You don't get to simply pay lip service while the words magically write themselves. If you don't write, you don't win. (And as I say to my Word Warriors, the only REAL way to lose is by quitting.)

I'm looking at ROW80 the same way. I've set myself an arbitrary goal that's easier to obtain than the NaNoWriMo goal. (One month per year of frantic writing is enough for me, thanks.) Kait Nolan has already given us our arbitrary deadline: 80 days. By the end of this round, I will either make the time to write and meet my arbitrary goal... or I won't. I've given myself permission to change the route I take to get there... but not the destination.

Otherwise, I'll set it lower and lower and lower until my goal reaches a number I've already hit. Where's the challenge in that? What good is a goal if you change it before you get there? Why participate in a writing challenge if there isn't a chance you'll fail?

I'm not saying that no one should re-evaluate their goals while they travel the path they're on. As has been pointed out countless times by countless authors, every writer is different. What works for one won't necessarily work for another. Sometimes life happens, particularly for those who have lives. People's lives change, so they have to look at how those changes affect their personal and professional goals. They have to make adjustments based on that.

What I'm saying is that I'm not those people. Giving myself permission to change my goal just feels like I'm saying it's okay to be lazy, that I can lower the goal later so I'll win. No. If I intend to "win" this round of ROW80, I need to work at it. In this instance, work means stop being lazy and WRITE.

The January 26 Check-In Blog Hop.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Week 3, Part II

Here we are, checking in a day late again. And I did so well on the Wednesday check-in, too.

Recap from that check-in: 100% (3/3 days)
This check-in: 25% (1/4 days)
Week 3 Total: 57% (4/7 days)

I've reached the conclusion that I need to re-evaluate how I intend to reach my goal for this round. It's clear to me that I will not write on Fridays. Period. (It involves a standing "date" with my best friend of 21 years. She demands my undivided attention when she's here -- ignoring her for the 30-45 minutes it would take to write is not an option.) I still intend to hit 60,000 words by the end of Day 80, though, so here is the new game plan:

Monday: 1,000 words
Tuesday: 1,000 words
Wednesday: 1,000 words
Thursday: 750 words
Friday: 0 words
Saturday: 750 words
Sunday: 750 words

Haven't changed it dramatically -- just took out Friday and distributed those words over the three days that I can write with no issues.

Now for the self-chastisement.

I can give myself a pass for Friday. I can't give myself a pass for not having written at all over the weekend. I edited my fragging podcast over writing, and since no one here knows about that (except perhaps for K.F. Hubert), I should explain: I hate editing my podcast -- hate it with a passion. Yet I did that over writing. Very sad.

The current reality is that I'm also 5,000 words behind my cumulative goal at this point. It may be time to treat this like NaNoWriMo until such time as that number falls to zero.

(Who am I kidding? I rarely follow through with such public statements of intent.)

Don't forget to look in on how the other participants in ROW80 are doing.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Week 3, Part I

It's Day 3 of Week 3, and so far I am pleased to report I have written at least 750 words every day this week. I'm even doing my check-in ON TIME! Go me!

Today on the ROW80 site, Ms. Nolan mentioned having established a routine for our writing. Um... yeah. I guess, in a very loose sense, I have done this. On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, my "long" days at work where I take an hour for lunch, I get my 750 words in with little-to-no problem. Thursday, my "shorter" day where I only take a half hour, it's a toss-up. If I start at the top of my lunch break, I get in my words. If I don't, I blow it off for later that night, and may or may not get to it. On Friday, my "shortest" day, where I take a half hour for lunch AND my Evil Twin comes to visit in the afternoon, I write 0 words. On weekends, where I have no set schedule, I fight with myself about sitting at the computer to write. Sometimes I win the internal battle and write. Sometimes I don't.

Ironically, this week, Monday and Wednesday have been days off for me. (MLK, Jr. Day, and some Southern State holiday that makes it a Skeleton Crew day in the government office where I work.) Monday was a big internal struggle, but I won the fight around 10:30 pm. Today was less of a struggle, because I had wanted to have a 7/7 week -- where I write for 7 out of the 7 days.

I still don't know where the story is going. I still don't know about the beasties my characters have encountered. The ultimate resolution is still not even a vague notion, mainly because the central conflict is still unclear.

This round of ROW80 will likely be chalked up to what Ms. Nolan discussed today: Establishing the routing. Setting myself a writing schedule, sticking to it, and damn the lack of a story that comes of it. This will certainly not be the first story abandoned due to sucking mightily. It will very likely not be the last.

SO: One day at a time for this fake-writer, and next round will hopefully see something worth admitting to having written.

Other Blogs in the January 19 Blog Hop

Monday, January 17, 2011

Checking In Again

I'll make this one short and sweet: I am still chugging along at a snail's pace, but I am still writing. In Week 2 (January 10-16), I wrote 4 of 7 days, and one of those was not my full 750-word goal. I don't happen to have my current count handy, but it is well below my intended count.

And I'm a day late with the check-in again.

The January 16 Check-In Blog Hop

I hope to have better reports for the Week 3 check-ins.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Checking In

Let's talk.

As I said in my introductory post, I'm not a Writer™ -- not by any stretch. In fact, my participation in writing events like National Novel Writing Month and A Round of Words in 80 Days would make the likes of Ann Rice and Alma Hromic spit fire and brimstone at the very audacity that I might dare put pen to paper. Or words to screen. Or whatever.

As I also said in that same post, I tend not to do much writing when it's not November. (This is more evidence that I am not a Writer™ if you needed any.)

ROW80 is a wonderful idea. I had hoped that playing in a non-NaNoWriMo playground, I might write when November is over. Alas, it's not happening so much. (Case in point: January 12 was the third check-in request, and this entry is my first -- a day later.)

My progress thus far: After ten days of the event, three have had zero words. One other has had fewer words than my daily goal of 750 words. No days have gone over 1,000. My current count, according to the sum of's reporting, is 5,295 words. My tracking spreadsheet says I should be at 7,500. (Well, 8,250 after today.) It's safe to say I'm not applying myself.

Ms. Nolan, founder of ROW80, had stated that she didn't intend to rehash the "pantser versus plotter" debate, but for the sake of full disclosure, I'm going to reveal which I am: I'm a pantser, all the way. This has its disadvantages, particularly when I have no idea what to write next. The term is "writing yourself into a corner" or some such.

One reason I don't plan, beyond being lazy, is that knowing where a story is going doesn't mean I'll actually be able to make it get there. Unless everyone is robotic and does things "according to the plan" with no room for surprise. I get bored with the story if I know where it's going, and if I'm bored, I can't write it.

Normally, my way around this is to get a flash of a future scene while I'm writing the current one, then try to manipulate characters and events to make the future scene happen. It doesn't always work, and with this untitled piece I'm writing now, I'm not even sure of the true nature of the beast -- how do my characters figure out what they're up against if I don't even know yet myself?

It's frustrating me, and it's making me not so eager to hit the writing each day. However, I do want to make one thing clear. I am not quitting. I refuse to quit.

I'm a pep-talker in my local NaNoWriMo group, rallying the participants of our region-against-region word count challenge to attain great heights of verbosity. What I say every year is that the only way to fail at NaNoWriMo (or any writing project or challenge) is to give up. Even if I don't write 60,000 words over the course of ROW80 (my ultimate goal), I will still have written more words than if I had not participated. Continuing to write means I will have more words by the end than if I stop now. Even if that means I won't "win" or "succeed" or whatever terminology you want to use for this challenge, I'll still be able to call it my own form of victory.

I've traveled to a few of the blogs in the Blog Hop for this check-in, and I'm in awe of some of the word counts. I'm thrilled at the "success so far" stories. Keep up the great work, everyone! If, by some strange fluke, you've come here and have chosen to quit, remember me and don't quit.

After all, you can't win if you don't play.