Moving Forward Again

Coming back to a weekly blogging schedule isn’t easy. The idea was to get back into the writing groove as things calmed down after September. Apparently, neither my motivation nor my Muse has checked the calendar….

oct1In reality, I’m still busier than originally planned. But that’s just the nature of life, and I need to adapt. As for my manuscripts, the characters are still in my head, but getting the stories up to par has seemed an unreachable goal. I’ve feared that I’ve reached my potential and it’s not good enough. This feeling has been with me for some time now. Long-term readers may have noticed that I haven’t posted much about writing since earlier in the year. And that lack of progress is a major reason why.

But November is approaching, and with it, NaNoWriMo. I still don’t think I could do NaNo, and last year, I instead made November my own PerNoReMo, or Personal Novel Rebuilding Month. And I’m doing it again this year.

I know which story I’ll work on. My goal, however, isn’t a final word count as NaNo requires. Instead, I want to figure out what the story still needs to “be complete” and then start work on the “missing” areas. A few thousand words or more by the end of November would be great. But getting the bones of the story in order will be a major achievement in itself.

WBYes, I said “will” not “would.” I’m reminding my brain that positive thinking is far more productive and rewarding than negative or doubtful thinking.

So, in preparation for PerNoReMo, I’ve printed a hard copy of the story. I’m old school, and that’s still the best way for me to review and edit documents. I love Scrivener, but for revision, I prefer paper. I’m reading that copy and making notes with a pen. And that feels right. Come November, I’ll be ready. Okay, if inspiration strikes, I’ll start before then. Seize the day and all that, right? I’m not about to let a rigid schedule stifle my creativity.

There’s still so much on life’s plate. But I can’t let Self-Doubt use that as a convenient excuse to stop writing. These stories are good and deserve to see the light of day.

So with glorious colors and crisp Autumn air around me, I’m coming back to the stories. And certain characters know they’re stepping up to the plate. Game on.

And I hope you’ll join me this weekend as we bring back my Saturday Sit Downs with the amazing Jennifer M Eaton and talk about her new novel, FIRE IN THE WOODS.

atHow about you? Writers, are you using the energy around NaNoWriMo to make some headway? Non-writers, is the change of seasons inspiring you to pick up an old interest or move forward on a new one?

59 thoughts on “Moving Forward Again

  1. There are so many ups and downs in this crazy writing life. I’ve been through this cycle a few times myself this year, so I empathize. Like you, I sometimes wonder if I’ve reached my potential, if I don’t have what it takes to be a really good writer. But then I remember Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hour rule, and that gives me hope. Maybe I just need more hours, more practice. I like to ride the wave as long as it lasts, then step back and regroup for a while when I crash. That seems to be the way it goes for me. Glad to hear you’ve got a plan.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Those 10,000 hours and 1,000,000 words of garbage don’t come about in a few months, do they…. I hope I’m getting closer to them, but some days, Self-Doubt makes me think I’ve barely started. I’ve never regained the enthusiasm and endurance I had in 2010 and 2011 when I started writing. And 2013 and 2014 have really been tough. But I’ve never come out and said, “This is it. I quit.” I would like to establish a happy medium, though. We’ll see if this PerNoReMo of mine can help….

      I hope you’ll soon be riding one of those waves again!

      Like

  2. Beautiful picture. I always get restless around this time of year, so hopefully some of that energy will find it’s way into my writing. I don’t NaNo, it’s just not doable in my schedule. But I’m here, cheering all who do. And I’ll cheer your PerNoReMo just as hard.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Even if I could fit NaNo into my schedule, I don’t think I’d be happy with the results. That’s just not the way I write, so I think I’d find myself with 50,000 words of garbage after those 30 days.And that wouldn’t be good!

      Thanks for the encouragement, and I hope you’re finding your way through your stories, too. It strikes me that a number of writers I follow have been struggling with the craft this year. My fingers are crossed that we’re heading back to more inspirational waters.

      Like

  3. My bipeds have been making the most of the weather and taking some really long walks when they have the time. That’s great news for me!
    I hope you find November to be a productive month for shaping your stories.
    I notice you’ve made some changes on the blog – it looks good and your new tagline is better.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I was wondering if anyone would notice the change! I still need to tweak the height of the header—it’s a bit higher than the ideal—but I’ll keep the same layout and tagline. I was never happy with the wording of the old one, so I was glad when this idea crossed my mind. I think it’s a fun play on my day job.

      Long walks in the fall are wonderful, aren’t they? They can be good sources of inspiration as well as exercise for me. Don’t you let your bipeds slack off on them!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. “These stories are good and deserve to see the light of day.”—Yes! That is the attitude to have. I wish you well with your revisions.

    By the way, I’ve been thinking of you off and on during the book I’m reading. It’s the third in the Agent Pendergast series by Preston & Child. It’s called “The Cabinet of Curiosities,” and like their other books in the series, it’s a thriller whose setting is (partially) a large New York museum (as in the first two books), but one of the protags in this one is an archaeologist who works for the museum. Old murders are uncovered beneath the buildings of New York, and Agent Pendergast enlists her help in investigating them. I like the archaeology angle, and I’m really enjoying the series (though the last quarter of the second book didn’t float my boat). But you wouldn’t have to read the first two to get the third one. Several characters are different, and it can act as a stand-alone. Just thought I’d mention it if you’re interested in reading a thriller involving some archaeology, both for entertainment and to see what’s out there in the genre.

    Liked by 2 people

    • There are, of course, no guarantees where I’ll be at the end of November when it comes to the story. But I’m working on that more positive and constructive attitude, so maybe I’ll surprise myself and have a rough draft completed. But I’m not pressuring myself to reach that point. A good handle on what I need to write to complete the story would be just fine by me. 🙂

      That sounds like a really interesting book, although Amazon says it has some gruesome scenes, which aren’t really my thing. Are there many of them? I might be able to handle one or two, but I’m not sure about more than that…. In part, I’m a wimp when it comes to violence. But I also feel like I hear too much about it from the real world, and I like to escape from it in fiction.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well, then you might want to avoid it. Although the author doesn’t go into much description during the act, it’s touched upon during the investigation and there’s plenty of gruesome. You may also want to avoid my second novel then, too. 😉 I hadn’t planned on including a killer in my book, but my husband suggested I add that part to add to the thriller concept. I think he was right, but it wasn’t always easy writing those scenes!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. You’ve got the right attitude, JM. The way to deal with doubt is to set an intention and follow through with messages to your brain letting it know this is what you expect it to do for you. This is not woo-woo. It’s actually how our brains work. My nerdy self (which I see as a good thing) is interested in neuroscience and so I’ve been reading quite a lot about it. So good on ‘ya!

    As for that all-too-familiar how to carve out writing time in a busy day job reality–well, I relate. I’m recommitting to regular posts on both my blog and as a guest writer this winter. I’m getting myself organized to do it again and figuring out a routine that will actually work. From previous experience I know if I commit to it, really commit, it will get done.

    I do look forward to reading you again on a regular basis.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Finding that manageable routine is tough. It seems like just when I find one, something in life changes that throws it all out of whack again. And I’ve been letting Self-Doubt use that as an excuse not to write. I have to stop that. There’s no knowing if I’ll succeed or fail as a writer unless I actually finish something and put it out there for the world to see. And even if I don’t find an audience, well, I’ll have enjoyed putting the stories together, which is the most important thing. And it’s not the end of the world, even if my psyche would view it that way!

      I hope we’ll see you blogging again soon—I’ve missed your posts. Nearly 3 years into this blogging gig, and I’m still trying to figure out the best way to approach it. But I hope you’re finding that serious commitment to commit to it again. I’ll be reading when you do!

      Like

  6. I don’t believe that you’ve “reached {your} potential and it’s not good enough.” You don’t really believe that, do you? Everybody who tries something worth trying gets frustrated. Everybody who tries something hard feels like a fraud at some point. Most people quit. Don’t be like most people.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I wonder if you realize how helpful it is to read that another writer is struggling and yet also persevering? Your attitude and stick-to-it-iveness have buoyed me up today. I’m working on my thesis instead of fiction, but I can relate to so much of what you’re saying here. And I love the new look of your blog header — well done!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know a number of fellow writers have also struggled this year with their works. Objectively, we all know that “this too shall pass.” But when we’re at low ebbs of inspiration, ideas, and energy, it’s hard to keep going. And I’ve stopped the physical act of writing many times over the last two years. But I do keep coming back to it and trying again. It took multiple tries to find an exercise routine that I could maintain over the years, but I finally did it. I’m hoping the same will happen with the fiction.

      And I know you’ll tackle those feelings of doubt and exhaustion and write a kick-butt thesis. You absolutely have what it takes—in spades. 🙂

      PS — Yay! Thank you for noticing the new header!

      Like

  8. JM, so glad to see you back on the horse and blogging again. I too have fallen off and fallen hard. Completely unintended – I guess life just happened. But I have been working on my WIP #2 and almost done with that first draft so I haven’t completely stopped writing. It’s just been slow going and no blogging.

    I’m so happy that you are back and are going full steam ahead for you with PerNoReMo. I have no doubt you can do it and I know you’re stories will be worth the wait 🙂 Good luck and keep writing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re much farther along than I am if you’ve nearly completed the draft of that second WIP! Good for you!

      Life does happen, and it’s okay if we need to step back from some activities (like blogging) when it does. I just need to be careful at those times because it’s so easy for my Self-Doubt to hide behind those distractions and use them to lead me away from writing.

      We’ll see if I can get myself back on track with PerNoReMo and then stay the course to actually finish one or more of these WIPs and take steps toward publication. Thanks so much for your encouragement, and know that when you come back to posting, I’ll be reading! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks JM. And know I’ll be reading yours too.

        Yes, I’m very close to the end. Just a few more scenes to go and I like this story so I hope I can pull it all together for the ending.

        But then the hard work of editing begins and that has been the toughest part for me. I hope with this story I’ll at least get it to the point where I’m willing to share it with others for their feedback but I’m getting ahead of myself. I have to finish it first 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • Some writers love editing, others hate it. 🙂 There’s no easy way around it, though! And sending a draft to betas is always a bit nerve-wracking. It can get “easier” the more we do it, but there’s always that lump in the throat when hitting “send” and seeing the email with their comments in the inbox. You can do it!

          Like

    • Thanks, Jennifer! And have fun with NaNo. I know lots of writers love the challenge and the camaraderie with fellow writers for getting those words on the page over those crazy 30 days. Exhausting, I hear, but also exhilarating. 🙂

      Good luck with your story, too!

      Like

  9. JM, remember we, the “unpublished”, all go through this same cycle of enthusiasm followed by discouragement – over and over apparently! But hopefully (and sometimes a bit of encouragement is all it takes), we still keep coming back to writing. I sense you’re looking for that bit of encouragement in this post, so let this be my contribution: WRITE, JM, WRITE!!! You can do it and – as long as it remains fulfilling work for you – just keep doing it. I’ve come to the conclusion that writing is simply good for the soul.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for the encouragement, Silk! It really means so much to me. Even at my lowest points, I can’t stop thinking about the characters and stories, if only at the back of my mind. Sometimes, that’s where the best ideas and paths around the brick walls are born.

      And I love the idea that writing is simply good for the soul. I suspect we’re all creative beings deep down, some maybe just more so than others. Letting that part of us speak up is undoubtedly a good way to grow and learn. So I will continue to write, even if only a very few people ever see the work or think it’s any good. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Glad to hear you have a NaNoWriMo plan, JM! That’s much further than I’ve gotten this year. You’re right about not letting life getting in the way of our goals. We just need to adapt. I’m still working on that part. 😉

    All that being said, I think I’ll be sitting out NaNoWriMo this year. I participated the first two years and won last year. It was a great experience though. Heartily recommended to anyone that can make the commitment.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m impressed by people like you who can win NaNo! Even when I was blissfully (but naively) writing my first novel, I never managed that many words in a month. But I like the idea of setting a goal or challenge to meet, and I think the energy around NaNo will be a good time to try that again.

      A new addition to a family means a lot of changes. 🙂 You’ll find your way, though, I’m sure!

      Like

  11. Good luck, JM. I have faith in you. I’m headed off to a writer’s conference. Hopefully, I don’t get overwhelmed with so much information that I’ll be even more confused. 😛 In the mean time, keep up the good work.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Lori! I hope you’ll have a great time at the conference. Let us know what you thought about it—I’ve never gone to one. 🙂 All the writing advice in books and articles can overwhelm me, and I’ll bet I’d feel the same way about a conference!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. You’ll get there, I know you will! I feel like I’m back in the blogging swing more after time away in the summer, although my post ideas aren’t as forthcoming. I seem to have become more interested in baking recently and so have been doing more of that and posting more on Sugarness than on my main one, but that’s ok! I’m going to be making a little video cooking demonstration thing for Sugarness soon that I’m really excited about – I like to pretend I’m presenting a cooking show when I cook sometimes anyway, so why not do my own for real! It’s only going to be a little 3 minute video I think but it should be fun 🙂 I’ll stop by at the weekend to read your chat with Jennifer.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I think a good way to avoid blogging burnout is to post about what you’re currently enjoying, so if that’s more the baking, then I’d say go for it. 🙂 And I’m looking forward to that video—you absolutely must do it now!

      The post ideas are still a bit problematic for me. I know I want to do a couple more about the vacation, but I don’t want to run them back-to-back since not everyone may be that interested. But I’m hoping that with success with my PerNoReMo that I’ll be up for writing more positively about my writing, too….. Fingers crossed!

      I may be a bit biased, but I think the interview with Jennifer will be a fun read! 🙂

      Like

  13. “PerNoReMo” sounds on target and perfect. You shall (not “will”) find a river of energy, focus, and inspiration and bring that floating raft to a snug tie-up at the dock.
    The problem with editing for me, is tweaking here and there and ending up with a whole new story…that needs editing…not alway a bad thing actually. Words are like Leggoes – they can click in different ways – but one construction just ends up stronger and better. You can do it. It will click.
    (and noticed the spruced up header and tag immediately: sharp messaging. Clean and neatly done. Dramatic and people should remember it…open ended is always good!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Editing is such a pitfall-laden process. I have a tendency to keep going over what I’ve written before I’ve finished a complete draft. And then I might end up cutting a scene that saw multiple revisions before hand. I don’t necessarily feel that those hours were a complete waste, but I know I shouldn’t spend so many that way. So with this PerNoReMo project I’m hoping to avoid some of that and focus on determining what the story needs to be complete.

      Thanks for noticing the header! I wasn’t sure how many folks would. Ideally it shouldn’t be quite so tall, so when I have some more time I’ll give it another tweak. Centering that gradient on the trowel was probably the hardest part! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Like the new look JM and good to have you back on a regular basis. I’m glad to hear that you’ve taken the energy of the time of year and are making it work for you – good to see the positive thinking in action 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Andrea! Your posts at this time last year and this have been a major influence on my approach to the shortening days and lengthening nights. Combining that with the energy around NaNo in the writing community will, I hope, spur my creativity and Muse. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve been far too good at pessimistic thinking for too many years. 😉 But it’s never too late to train the brain to try something new. It took a few failed attempts before I established an exercise routine I could live with. Now to get that point with the mind! 🙂

      Like

  15. What a glorious photo!

    Every change of season is invigorating for me; Fall used to energize me the most after the hot, humid, air-conditioned awfulness of a Maryland summer, added to the “back to school, it’s the start of a new year” feeling. But since moving to Norway, I don’t feel it as much — I don’t need the cooler weather since the summers are so pleasant, and I’m not teaching/raising daughters so don’t have that “new school” feel.

    I realize that I miss it. Your post has given me something to ponder…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Maryland really does have four seasons, which is something I enjoy greatly. (Especially when the winters aren’t too cold or snowy!) And those distinct changes definitely affect my thoughts and outlook. I love the onset of fall and spring most, even if they do trigger the allergies. Summer and winter tend to be harder to be positive about, but I’m working on improving my attitude toward them.

      It’s so hard for me to capture the vibrancy of the autumn trees in photos. But I think the light conditions were with me on this one and are a close approximation to the brilliance of those leaves. 🙂

      Like

  16. I’ve just been through a ‘down’ cycle with my writing, JM and I really need a serious kick to get me going again. I also print my stories to edit, it’s so much easier. When I get to the final editing stage I print a book through LULU. This is fantastic because I get the book (you only pay for postage and handling) and read it like a ‘real book’. It’s incredible how much this helps (and you can hand it around for others to read for comments). I highly recomend it as a great editing tool 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • When I finally get to that stage, I’ll definitely check out LULU. I’ll sometimes use both a hard copy and an electronic copy of the document on my Kindle. That different look on the Kindle lets me spot problems that I might have overlooked on the hard copy.

      You’ve been dealing with so many things in life that you shouldn’t get down on yourself for not spending much time with the writing. Sometimes life has to take precedence, although it would be nice if it were easier to switch back into “writing mode” or “other interest mode” when the chance arises. I hope you’ll soon be there so we can read a new book from you—no pressure intended! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Great post! Very motivating! I’m contemplating NaNo…if nothing else just to force me to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard as the case would be). I am seriously behind in writing…and reading….if only we didn’t need to work. Sigh.

    Liked by 1 person

    • If the thought of a full NaNo is too much, why not use the month to meet a custom goal/challenge that works for you? I could never hit that 50,000 word mark! But depending on where I was, 20,000 might be doable. Or for this year, it’s more about understanding what’s needed to make this story complete. Then I can work on the words after that.

      Drat that need to earn money! And another 6–12 hours in the day might be nice, too. 😉

      Like

  18. Good for you! I love PerNoReMo. I guess I’m doing that right now. I revisited my second novel last month and decided to change up the order of some chapters and do an entire reedit. It’s something I wanted to do for a while but I was afraid to look at something I self-published two years ago.

    It was a tough decision to dedicate what little free time I have to an old project, but I’m glad I decided to do it. I think the novel will be much stronger now.

    Here’s to the power of positivity! We need that when it comes to writing. Well, we need it all the time. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I run through such highs and lows with writing that I need to grab the positive when it surfaces and hang on for as long as I can. 🙂

      I think this particular story has the potential to find a “mainstream sci fi” audience, but only if I get it right. Of course, that’s true for every story in every genre, right? One of my biggest obstacles will likely be never reaching the point where I think a story is ready to publish. After querying too soon with my first manuscript, I’m afraid to think any other story will ever be ready. Ugh! But I’m still trying, so there must still be a bit of positive thinking in me!

      An advantage of the indie route is that you can revise a story you’ve already done. And if you believe the reworking makes for a better story, then why not do it? It reminds me of all the movies that were released years ago, and then a “director’s cut” comes out. If they can do it, why not authors? 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Pingback: Around the Archaeology Blog-o-sphere Digest #8 | Doug's Archaeology

  20. I’m way behind with blogging, too. I haven’t been posting regularly on my blog, nor have I been making the blogging rounds like I want to. October is frightfully busy for me with soccer season, my annual kids’ Halloween party, and other seasonal activities and commitments. Come November, soccer will pare down to just one game a week at an indoor stadium, and I’ll have about two months of a lighter schedule before things pick up again with winter sports. But, the writing demands are still as high as ever, with less time to devote to it.

    I’m looking forward to your writing updates, but I know it’s really hard to blog about it when you’re not feeling the groove. I’m sure things will turn around for you, though. Keep up that positivity — it’s the best medicine.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m finding it tough to get back into the groove of posting. Ideas aren’t all that forthcoming, which makes it doubly hard. We’ll see if practice makes it any easier. If not, I may go to every other week instead of once a week, at least until I actually have some writing progress to talk about.

      But I am trying to keep up the positive attitude. A little harder on Mondays after a long day at the office, of course. 🙂 But the outlook generally improves with Tuesday.

      Hang in there with those commitments! November is nearly here, and I hope you’ll have that chance to regroup and catch your breath!

      Like

  21. It seems to be a common malady this running out of time! I am sure one day it will sort itself out, (though I fear I’m a bit like the Mad Hatter, always late!!) and keep positive 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • It really doesn’t help if I stamp my feet and say, “I don’t want to be this busy.” 🙂 So if I’m going to actually finish writing a book (or two or ….), then I have to suck it up and find a way to do more with less time. Luckily, I had a major Eureka! moment this morning with my PerNoReMo story, and for once I’m optimistic about making some progress! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  22. I’m one of those self-indulgent fools participating in NaNo again this year, even though the wordcount is not a challenge for me. I want to take 30 days to be free to write one more something fun-and-for-me before I move on to the next serious story. I think it’s really all about dedication, though. Your personal November engagement is just as valid as any other, more so, perhaps, because you’re taking it on with your own rules, and you’re setting your own goals. That’s a lot more focused than NaNo’s 50K in 30 days. (My goal is less wordcount than finishing the story, too.)

    Glad to hear that you are getting back into your writing, JM. Even if it is a little bit at a time, it’s good that you’re wrangling your muse once more. I’ve missed seeing new stories from you on my virtual bookshelf. 🙂

    Totally agree about the hardcopy editing, too. It’s still the best way for me to see what’s happening in a story.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m awed by writers like you who can not only participate in NaNo but can win it! I’m not sure I could physically write 50,000 words of a story in 30 days. Plus, coming up with a story to write during that period would be another daunting challenge. 🙂 But I like the energy around the event, and that’s what gave me the idea originally for my first PerNoReMo last year.

      I had a “break down the brick wall” moment on the stepper this morning for that story. Twelve of them actually—that’s the number of separate recordings I made on my phone as I exercised. Very glad I could step and talk at the same time. 😀 But I finally figured out how the “big action” near the end of the story would play out. That brick wall was the main barrier to finishing the story, and now I think I can get there. There’s still a long way to go, of course, but now that I know the specifics of that scene, I can also figure out what needs to come before to fill in the story from A to Z. You wouldn’t believe the sighs of relief after that workout! 😀

      All the best wishes for your NaNo—I’ll be cheering you on from the sidelines!

      Like

Comments are closed.