Sunday, August 28, 2016

Week 7 Writing Challenge Analysis

It has been a long, hard week. I didn't get as much done as I'd hoped on the edits, but that's primarily because I was trying to play catch-up and get organized for the new school year. Yes, the day job does interfere on occasion.

Image result for gif hour glass
gif from
Which means, I have to reevaluate my time commitment during the week and make up for it on the weekends. Looking at everything I have to do, and the after school club I manage, the three hours a day is not feasible at this time. Nor is adding another hour a day for plotting/outlining new stories.

And this isn't a permanent thing, it will change as the year progresses and I get more things under control and can free up my evenings for what I love doing...writing.

I'm still very proud of myself and all I've figured out about my new writing method. I also like that I've done a phenomenal job remaining positive and objective when it comes to how I look at how I've handled this writing challenge.

I wish I could make the really cool charts that Claire Jane used for her updates (and I'll be contacting her about them soon), I'm just going to toss the information out there for you...

Time spent on edits and writing in Week 7 was 785 minutes (13 hours and 5 minutes) which was 700 minutes (11 hours and 40 minutes) less than time spent in Week 6.

All new words were exclusively written for my blog (a total of 3,274 words in 3 hours 45 minutes), and only 41 pages of the manuscript were edited in the week.

If this had been the beginning of the Making Writing A Habit I Can't Kick challenge, then I probably would be slamming myself for not getting what needed to be done done. Which makes me glad this is Week 7 and not Week 1.

Image result for to do list clipart
Goals definitely need to be revised, so here goes...
Writing Challenge Week 8 To Do List:

  1. Finish clean rough draft of Rogue Master:
    • edit at least 5 pages of manuscript each night - except Wednesday or
    • edit at least 2 scenes each night - except Wednesday or
    • Spend at least 1.5 hours working on editing the manuscript each night - except Wednesday
    • Spend at least 3 hours working on editing/transcribing the manuscript on Saturday and Sunday
  2. Post 2 blogs during the week:
    • 1 post will be Weekly Challenge Analysis
    • 1 post on any other writing or reading related information
  3. Spend 3 hours in the week to build projects to be worked on by:
    • Reading through old scenes to find usable ones or
    • Creating rough outlines for stories or
    • Creating a rough series outline for series stories in development or needing completion
That doesn't seem like to heavy a burden. Considering I did get both blog posts up last week, and I spent every night editing, even if I didn't reach the 20 page or 3 hours a night goals, I still spent a good amount of time writing.

Even better, I didn't put writing off. The goal of the challenge was to make writing a habit and I believe it is slowly becoming a daily habit for me.

Until later,
Have a great week!

Friday, August 26, 2016

Visual Results Register

I know, I'm a day late. No matter, this week has been a long one. First day of school and trying to get adjusted to getting up at the - how does Claire Jane refer to it? Oh, yes - butt-crack o' dawn in order to make sure I got not only what I needed done for my classroom (which I didn't, but that is what it is), but what the other teachers needed.
Big reveal of the dragon I needed to paint this week
Details below!
That's beside the point though. My big talk today is on results and how they register with me. This may also touch on how they register with others, yet my focus is on me so I can prepare myself for the analysis I have to do in the morning for Week 7 of the Make Writing a Habit I Can't Kick Challenge. And what I need to talk about is how my learning style impacts my sense of success.

Over a decade ago, I learned about a concept called Learning Styles as it was described by Dawna Markova. I'm not going into her information, just suffice to say, based on her descriptors and "testing" tool, I am a VKA (Visual-Kinesthetic-Auditory) Learner. Meaning I am a Visual - Conscious Learner. I can see the clutter around me and it is a total distraction from my clear thinking task completion ability. It also means I often measure my success based on the visual data I "see".

My "thinking" mind is my Kinesthetic - Subconscious and my Auditory - Unconscious, which both can be shut down if my Conscious mind is overwhelmed with Visual stimuli/input. When it comes to writing, I see the scenes in my head, yet I don't connect with the emotions of "feelings" in the scenes until I print the pages I write out and hand edit the documents. Which is why I tend to recycle - a lot!!

How does that relate to my need for results? It means, for the most part, my barometer of task success is directly based on the visual input I have regarding that project. My dragon became one of my "success" measuring tools.

When I posted my Week 5 & 6 Analysis on Saturday, I mentioned going to paint a dragon. That was directly connected to my teaching day job. Five years of writer's block affected me in more ways than I'd thought, as I mentioned on Saturday. Yet, I recognized that my desire for creativity had also been stifled in those five years. Perhaps that's why my dragon was such an important project, that even usurped my regular preparation plans for my classroom. And I can't be angry about it, because - I love my dragon!

It's interesting how when I began the project I knew going in it would take time, yet I didn't begrudge myself that time. Yes, It meant staying up later than I should to write and edit, and it meant actual physical pain, because my body really can't tolerate standing on a step ladder with my arms extended over my head for nearly an hour at a time. Or kneeling on a hard oak bookcase to reach areas for 20 or 30 minutes at a time. When you consider I was also running around working on lesson plans, fixing computers, distributing equipment, etc, my project should have been shelved or set aside to do in steady increments. I was very fortunate to have a wonderful teacher helping me do a lot of the work since we'll be sharing the computer lab I teach in this year.

Just like my writing I couldn't set my dragon aside for later. Not now.

I've told people this story at least a dozen times, so bear with me. When I wrote Mike's and Lyssa's story (Originally titled Midnight Masquerade after the Club party that starts the story) I sat down and wrote it over the course of perhaps two weeks. I came home from my teaching job, opened my laptop and simply poured out the scenes as they came to me. Then I put them together and set the book aside. It sat for a few months, if I remember correctly, before I pulled it out and read it. And hated it. Of the 68,000 words, I kept about 10,000, then proceeded to completely rewrite the story. When I turned it into my publisher, it was 74,000 words and stronger for the gutting.

In my first round of edits I added another 20,000 words to the manuscript even after I removed the first three chapters. By the time it went to print (ebook really) it was 96,000+ words.

How does this connect back to my need for Visual Results? That first manuscript was a success to me because it was complete - in my mind at 68,000 words. Then, when I kinesthetically connected to it by reading the hard copy, I realized I'd written the story incorrectly. While I panicked a bit after taking out so many pages, I felt a huge sense of relief when I realized I added even more to the story after my first rewrite.

Admittedly this was nearly 6 years ago, and I've learned a lot since then, yet that visual measuring tool still helps me feel positive about myself and my progress on any project. And painting my dragon, gave me the sense of accomplishment and success I wanted and needed going into the beginning of the school year. I not only painted the dragon, but the teacher helping me finished off the borders around the two 3 feet by 6 feet dry erase walls we created.

This is the wall directly behind my desk.
Like my writing, I now do my planning ahead of time. For writing, I use the Down 'N' Dirty Plotting System Claire Jane developed and I teach (have a class this September online with HCRW if your interested.)

For my dragon project I started with the blank wall behind my desk and the idea of the picture I wanted to paint. After taping off the lowest section of the wall I wanted to paint to, I lightly sanded the surface and wiped it clean with a lint-free cloth so the latex interior paint would stick better.

After gaining permission from my supervisors on Thursday, I did this with the intention of returning to the school after a Friday meeting 90 miles away. I didn't make it in on Friday night.

Friday night, I looked for the perfect image of a dragon with a computer to replace the original dragon in the picture I'd shown my supervisors (the original was much scarier). I arrived at the school about 20 minutes after I posted my Saturday blog (around 7:30 a.m. EST, I believe). I increased the dimensions of the dragon, the castle in the background, but not the tree, and pieced the three items together.

One of the whiteboard walls measured and taped for the border
Knowing I'd need to take time from painting the dragon to allow the paint to dry a bit, I prepped the whiteboards for their borders. I measured 4 inches from the edge of the white board painted area, taped it off then sanded and wiped it clean just like I'd done my dragon wall. Since the borders wouldn't take as long as the dragon, I painted the first coat so it would have time to dry a bit while I was working on my dragon.

Then, using a document camera and LCD Projector, I carefully copied the outline from the picture. And started to paint. First the grass.
I forgot to get a picture just of the outline.
Then the leaves of the tree, followed by the tree trunk, then the computer and the castle. The dragon body, followed by his wings, his underbelly, tongue and nostril. I polished him off with his blue eye and the gray pupil.
Final version when I went home Saturday night

The fun part of the painting was the fact that I had to mix all the paints to make the different colors. The only colors I had going in were red, dark blue, black, purple, yellow, and white.

So I mixed the blue and yellow for the large part of the grass, then I added more yellow for the leaves of the tree (which I regretted not having saved the original you can seen in the way I filled the edges of the painting) then even more to give a little more texture to the tree. I got the brown of the tree trunk by adding some red to the leaves-green (in a separate container, thank goodness). The orange of the underbelly was made with the red and yellow. The gray of the castle and computer was from the mixing of black and white. The sky was from dark blue and white. The rosy color of the horns and claws came from mixing some of the orange with purple and black.

white around the whiteboard
Between the layers of the dragon, I added a second layer of white to the whiteboard borders (although the white wasn't exactly white). Once both boards were done and I had my dragon done, I finally went home a little before 5 in the evening. I'd even forgotten to eat lunch, so food was a top priority.

dry brushed border
On Sunday, I slept late and didn't get to the school until after 9 in the morning. I worked on the whiteboards while I tried to figure out what was bothering me about the dragon wall (here was my Visual Conscious "pinging" that something wasn't quite right.)
Using the left over brown, I did a dry brush technique (use a little bit of paint then drag a dry paint brush through it to create texture) over the white border around the whiteboard.

much better :)
By that time, I finally realized I didn't like the white space around my dragon. I tried adding more blue to the leaves-green, but didn't get quite the color I wanted. I used that color to fill in the grassy area, then daubed a bit in the tree to add layers.

Each layer had to dry for 24 hours before I could put anything on top of it. So, again I had to wait for it to dry. While I waited, I cleaned up the brushes and washed out the paint containers I'd used that I wouldn't need any more. Then, I went home and worked on my editing, like a good little writer should.

Almost there!
Monday morning I was in the building by 5 a.m. to get the words written and painted on the wall. Using the projector and document camera, I outlined the words then realized I didn't really have a brush narrow enough to fill in the letters and the detail lines. While waiting to talk to someone about the best brush to use to do the detail outlines to give the painting depth, I texted the teacher sharing my room to ask if she wanted her whiteboard to have a brown border. She said yes, so I used up the brown and cleaned up my brushes and the paint container of brown. By 8 in the morning I was bored and decided to go out to the paint warehouse store and pick up some brushes myself. Of course they didn't work the way I wanted, but I was able to get the majority of the details done without ruining my dragon, and the letters filled in.

paw prints added
Next to be done were the paw prints for the borders. Since my border was done, after the other teacher and I agreed on a style, I made a template and had to adjust the size what seemed like a dozen times before they finally fit. She did the painting of the paw prints, then we worked on what we needed to for the day (by this time it was nearly 4 p.m. and time to go).

Another early morning for me on Tuesday, but I could see the light at the end of the tunnel and the other people who'd come into my classroom were amazed at how neat my dragon was and the whiteboard walls. Before anyone else arrived, I traced the paw prints around the other teacher's board then started in on the fine outlining of the letters on my dragon wall. By the time I had to leave for an appointment at 11 a.m. I only had about five words left to outline...and my knees were killing me. After a quick lunch, I finished the words and my wall was done! The other teacher had painted the paw prints around her board, outlined the paw prints on my board, and went back to outline the prints on her board being careful of the paint even though it had been drying for several hours.
All done - whew!!
Every step of the way through this dragon wall, I used visual cues to determine if I was finished or needed to do more - add more.

It's the same with my writing. The word count gives me a feeling of success and that I'm doing the right thing. If I don't have word count to go by, then pages edited helps give me that positive pick-me-up. 

It's what keeps me going through the pain, and the exhaustion, and the anxiety that inevitably crops up. And - while I might not meet my deadlines every time - I will meet my goals.

Until tomorrow or Sunday,
Have a great day!!


Saturday, August 20, 2016

Weeks 5 & 6 Writing Challenge Analysis

This is going to be a quick and dirty analysis of the last two weeks because I have to get out of here and go paint a dragon...

For Week 5...

Week 5 was all about the beginning editing - and that was a major struggle. I went into the week knowing I had scenes that had to be written, but no plan on how to get them done except "When I get to it, I'll write it."

I did very well on getting pages done, 125 edited, just 15 shy of the goal of 20 per day. As for my hours dedicated to the writing, I was 0.7 hours shy (about 42 minutes) of meeting the goal of 4 hours a day.

Blogging was okay. I was able to get the Week 4 analysis up on time (Sunday) and get another random post, Reading - Writing - And Change..., done on Friday, so that goal was met. Yay Me!
courtesy of
With the blogs and the transcribed edits, I wrote 4,445 new words, with 2,522 being on my blog.

And all progress was reported on my Twitter and Facebook pages. No new work was done on my other manuscripts, but I'm not going to stress over that until I finish this book.

Which means, for the most part, in Week 5 I came close or met my goals for the week.

For Week 6...

This was the litmus test week and I can already tell there will have to be some more tweaking and refining of my goals and methods.

Biggest take away from Week 6 was the realization that I definitely must have an editing plan moving forward. After the fumbling and "uh, what next" issues during Week 5, it was clear to me that when it comes to editing, I must know exactly what I need for the story moving forward. And that was how I spent my Saturday - the first day of the challenge week. I spent over 4 hours going through the rough draft and making a list of all the scenes I would need to finish the story - 19. And found that I had scenes that needed to be finished - 6, giving me a total of 25 scenes.

Having just that little bit of information made the week go easier - even if I didn't get as much done as I'd hoped.

My almost finished living room (that sofa was on the opposite
side of the room when I started)
Blogging wasn't so you can see the Week 5 analysis that was supposed to go up on Sunday ... didn't happen. In fact, Sunday was the crazy move everything around day which started at 2 am EST and, after a 4 hour nap, ended around 3pm EST. I literally tore apart my bedroom, living room, and office (which is the dining room) and moved shelves, desks, sofa-recliners, and televisions because the flow of energy in my house was bugging me.
Still, I got some editing and transcribing done on Sunday.

My 90% done office...I love my table and roll-top desk!
The second blog post was supposed to go up mid-week...kinda happened. I was able to make a quick Writing & Insanity post on Thursday, but nothing illuminating and fun. Although, I must  may be seeing a post on work spaces...

Now for the numbers...

Week 6 was 9.9 hours down from Week 5 (17.4 compared to 27.3), my edited pages was up 169 pages, and my transcribing/new words on the manuscript was up 918 over Week 5.

Considering Week 6 was my first return to full-time work week, and I was getting back into the groove of things, it's quite obvious I have to make some adjustments. Good news for me was, I didn't stay late a single night I was back to work. And once I was home, I immediately got back to the editing or transcribing.

Going off Goals set for Week 5 (write/edit/transcribe 4 hours a day to complete Rogue Master; 1 hour a day to create new manuscript outlines; 2 blog posts a week) I didn't do so hot, but I'm very proud of how much I was able to get done and the fact that I did it while back to work.

And since this challenge is about making Writing A Habit I Can't Kick, I'm still winning - because I'm still writing!!

Even better, when I was driving back from a regional training with two of my co-workers, both of them commented on how much more positive and excited I seemed than the previous school year. And they both attributed it to my being able to write again - they're is all because I'm playing with my passion again.

And that's why I have to go paint a dragon.

So - Goals for Week 7 (with the tweaks to keep me successful):

  1. Work toward completing Rogue Master clean rough draft:
    • Edit a minimum of 20 pages per day
    • Spend a minimum of 3 hours per day transcribing/writing/editing
    • Post progress on Twitter and Facebook
  2. Begin work on new manuscript(s):
    • Spend a minimum of 1 hour per day plotting/outlining a new manuscript or
    • Read through previous unfinished manuscripts for scenes or
    • Transcribe/write on new manuscript for 1 hour each day
  3. Post at least 2 blogs per week:
    • Weekly Challenge Analysis - Post by Sunday
    • Create a list of blog posts (minimum 8 posts/subjects)
    • Blog on any other subject - post by Thursday
Going by the numbers, this means I have to do a minimum of 28 hours of writing every week.

I can do this!!

Will see you on Thursday, have a great week, and when I get my dragon done, I'll post some pictures!

Have a great day!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Writing and Insanity

So, the update isn't happening until probably this weekend, when I'll analyze both week 5 and week 6 of the Writing Challenge...

Why is it late? Because I'm going in forty directions at one time and have not found an opportunity to sit down and focus on the data.

My friend Claire Monroe talked about a crazy busy week last week and that's what I've had this week.

Prepping my classroom for the new school year and getting the equipment for all the other classrooms inventoried and distributed as well as dealing with computer issues and the fact that I was informed on Monday that the computer lab would be losing between 1/4 to 1/2 the space to create another classroom made it fun, fun to figure out a configuration for the computer tables that didn't overload circuit breakers and keep kids from complaining about other kids being too close. (*shudder* visions of "he's touching me" play through my mind and it isn't pretty.)

That's my story and I'm sticking to it. Good thing is, I have gotten some editing done...not as much as I'd like, but I wrote three (3) of the nineteen (19) new scenes that need to be written, so I'm getting there. Slowly but surely.

Friday is going to be a very long day since I have to head out of town for training, return and work on a painting project in my classroom, then come home, hopefully edit a few more scenes and get back to school on Saturday to complete the painting project so I have all day Sunday to write.

Hope you all have a great day and a great weekend. Be prepared for another post on Saturday night/Sunday morning with my analysis for the last two weeks.

Take care!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Reading - Writing - And Change...

Recently I was asked, "Who is your favorite author and what is your favorite book?"

How many times have you, reader, been asked this same thing? And have you also run into the problem of trying to answer it?

Here's the problem I, as a reader and a writer, always run into when I try to answer it - CHANGE.

Change is inevitable and it applies to everything. I mean everything from bubble gum to hair color to how the sun rises and sets! And this goes 100 times more for readers, because you grow and experience life and delve into new genres of fiction or different fields in non-fiction. You often find when going back to a book or author you read in the past and enjoyed, that your reaction to the story is much changed from what you remembered.
Some of my romances on
one of my 3 sets of book-

Now, there is always the fallibility of memory, but - in this case - I'd put my money on change. Eventually, what was once your favorite novel or story isn't any more. And that's not a bad thing. It's actually very reaffirming. It tells you that you're growing as a person, following a path you've chosen to explore at this point in your life.

I am an avid reader and have collected romances - and a few other genres - since the late 1970s (yes, I'm that old). Although, in recent years I have actually pared down my book collection. In all my moves - Las Vegas to Alaska; Alaska to Montana; Montana to North Carolina - I carried with me as many of my books as I could - 60 boxes give or take a dozen. Now, I'm down to about 20 boxes. Only kept the books I'd read every year.

As a writer, the question of favorite books and authors can be tricky, even if you don't take into consideration the great friendships that develop between writers. It can expose a side of you you might not be comfortable revealing. For me, it was a wake up call...after I'd taken some time to think it over, of course. The question made me think of two things - How I read and Why I write.

How I read:
I have always read for enjoyment and still do so - for the most part. Since 2010 though, I have spent a great deal of time studying the craft of writing. Lots of non-fiction books and seminars and workshops. My friend and critique partner (CP), Claire J. Monroe, has helped me in processing through all the things I've been learning, which I greatly appreciate.  She recently wrote an interesting blog post about writing and it being a solitary venture that played into my thoughts about my reading favorites and writing habits, and the progress I've made since the Writing Challenge began a month ago. Big result from all the information I have sifted through regarding plot, subplot, character development, pacing, etc., is the impact my knew knowledge has had on how I read for enjoyment. Immensely!

Before 2010, when I read it was to relax. Perhaps catch up with a series of characters. Definitely see how the "competition" was  doing their thing. And above all, to have fun and enjoy submerging myself in a world crafted by an author with a story to tell.

When I pick up a book now, I seem to subconsciously and even unconsciously, analyze a book for all the elements necessary to create a compelling story. This often affects my enjoyment of the book, because if my subconscious spots something an alarm goes off in my head. I work at the problem until, consciously, I can see where the problem exists. I think about how it impacts the story. Then, I stew on the bloody information trying to figure out how I'd fix it if it were my book. In many cases, if there's an issue that I need to work out, I'll set the book down and walk away from it for a while so I can process through the information provided. I try to extrapolate the potential ending of the story and figure a way to fix the problem my subconscious has communicated before returning to read the story. Until the next plot/character/story issue crops up.

The stories that I don't put down, are the ones I enjoy the most. Yes, there may be issues, but those issues in plot or character or story line, are usually directly connected to the growth of the main character and the evolution of the story arch, so those problems, I can usually gloss over and stay wholly immersed in the story...until my subconscious and unconscious minds tell me I can't. Then it's back to the pacing and planning until I've fixed the issues in my head and can return to the book.

Six of my favorite books or authors:
Maya Banks' Forged in Steele & Darkest Before Dawn,
Linda Howard's Mackenzie's Mountain & Game of Chance,
J.R. Ward's Lover Revealed, and one of the Executioner series
created by Don Pendleton
This in turn, makes me hyper-aware of my own errors in a story that could send me - and sometimes still does - down a path of bullying, abusive self-talk and insults aimed at my writing ability, that does nothing to fix the issue. Often only exacerbating situation until I refuse to write another word (Hello, Writer's Block part II). That is until recently.

The Writing Challenge has helped me in how I deal with myself and how I view my writing and reading time. Which leads into the next part -

Why I write:
I don't remember a time I haven't been able to read. I know that in my elementary school I practically read out the entire fiction section of its library by fifth or sixth grade. By seventh or eighth grade I'd latched on to romance novels (series romances mostly) and spent every dime I earned babysitting buying them. But my favorite authors simply did not write fast enough for my habit. Above is a picture of six of my favorite books and authors. In another 10 years this group may change, and it may not. Especially Lover Revealed and Game of Chance. In middle school and high school I could easily devour three or four books a day, reading before and after school, between classes and during lunch. I read all the time. I still do when I'm not writing or working the day job.

At my 20th high school reunion, a friend mentioned how he remembered I'd keep at least four books in my bag wherever I went. I laughed and showed him the bag I was carrying - inside I had three books and one of the early Kindles - he groaned. Reading is and was my passion.

Unfair Advantage
Mattie & Bryce
Rite of First Claim
Mike & Lyssa
That need for something to read led to my picking up a pen and telling my own stories. Admittedly my early works were similar to the fan-fiction of today, but I also created characters that were unique to me. Mattie's and Bryce's story, Unfair Advantage - and to a lesser extent Mike's and Lyssa's story, Rite of First Claim - were begun in those early years - when I was 12 or 13 years old. And as I grew and changed over the years, the stories I wrote and the ones I read did as well. Mattie, Bryce, Mike, and Lyssa came along for the ride. There stories evolved as my reading interests and my writing abilities evolved and changed - for the better, I think.

Yet, no matter how much I've changed and my taste in books has evolved, one thing hasn't. When it comes to the story - it's the characters that catch my attention. How they handle situations, how they act and react and roll with the punches. Those elements are what keep me going, keep me reading - and keeps me writing. Telling those stories; introducing readers to the people in my head; providing fun and enjoyment and a bit of escapism for a few hours - or days - depending on your reading speed. All of those things what keep me picking up the paper and pen and transcribe the words in my head onto the computer screen in front of me. It's what I'm good at. I love reading and writing. I don't see myself ever stopping either endeavor.

So, now I put to you readers, what is your favorite book and your favorite author...and why?
Give me some recommendations (I read horror, mysteries, YA, and science fiction, so don't think you have to stick to romance) so that the next time I'm waiting on an appointment or waiting on edits, I'll have something to read.


Saturday, August 6, 2016

Week 4 Writing Challenge Analysis - Glass Half Full - Half Way There!

Wow! Claire Jane, can you believe it's been Four weeks. 28 whole days completed and four weeks to go. Half way there!

This week had good news and bad news.

The Bad first, because I prefer to get it out of the way so I can celebrate the good.

Word Count = Bad
Added 23,973 words to the manuscript. That's 20,607  less words than Week Three's manuscript word count.
From week Three to Week Four, my Free write words per minute was reduced from 6.1 to 2.4 wpm - a drop of 3.8 wpm.
There was also a decided reduction in words per minute in transcription from 23.2 wpm to 12.9 wpm.
Total time invested in my on-line presence (Blog, Social Networks, etc.) was 450 minutes (7.5 hours) less than Week 3.

Here's the rub - the Bad isn't so bad. True, I didn't add 6,000 words a day - this week was about editing - I didn't expect word count, but I was aiming to make my hours. That was what I focused on - and I did get through 40 pages of edits.

Now, The Good:
I added 1,594 words to my blog, which was 212 words more than last week. I spent 2,340 minutes on my manuscript and 195 minutes working on my blog for a total of 2,535 minutes or 42.3 hours - 6.4 hours more than Week 3.
That was 415 minutes or 6.9 hours more than Week 3.

Looking at all that information, you'd think this week's analysis may end up becoming a diatribe about my inability to stick to goals I'd given myself.

I've always been a glass half-full kinda person when it comes to other people, yet tend to be a glass barely filled kinda gal when I'm dealing with myself.

This writing challenge has been very good for me in discovering this. And discovering how destructive my words can be to my belief in myself.

This week was an out and out test to my new "It is what it is" philosophy. If you look at the general data - the surface of the situation - it would be very easy to lambaste myself over my performance.

Here's the thing, though, while I'm not happy that I haven't finished the ugly rough draft of Rogue Master, I discovered that I read and watch television when I try to avoid writing.

It's not like I didn't know that - having become rather an expert at it over the years - what I did discover this week is, that even though I read 8 novels, skimmed and read over half of two other novels, and indulged in three season of Hercules Poirot on Netflix, I still sat my butt down to write. Every day.

Whether it was from midnight to two a.m., or 9:15 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., or 5:45 p.m. to 9:45 p.m. Whether transcribing notes, free writing, constructing a blog post, or editing, I have written for 28 days. Every day I have taken time to write something - anything - and that's something I haven't done in 6 years.

And I'm very proud of myself - very proud.

Because I know this means I'm at the halfway mark of making this a habit. One that I've never had before. Not in the past. Not in all the years I wrote before I was published or the few years after my first book was published.

As I review the data from this week's challenge and reflect on the methods I used in the past, I realize writing wasn't a habit, it was a hobby - a distraction while I was waiting for a good book or movie to come out. Something to do when I was bored with what was on television.

Now, I'm making it a habit that I can build a career on. a career I can be in charge of, and can determine where I want it to go. I'm putting the power back in my hands.

And I'm liking it.

The final analysis of my performance versus my goals for Week 4:

  1. Write every day - achieved
    • 6,000 words or 6 hrs per day - not achieved - average word count per day was 3,196; average time spent editing/transcribing/free writing was 5.6 hours
    • report daily to social media - achieved
  2. Add words to a new manuscript - not achieved - primary focus was on Rogue Master, so I didn't bother working on another manuscript
  3. Post 2 blogs - half achieved
    • Week 3 Analysis blog post - achieved - posted
    • any other blog post - not achieved - There was no response to my blog so I'll be figuring out posts on my own for the time being.
Looking at these details, I think there needs to be modifications to my Week 5 goals, yet not much. With my focus being on editing and adding new, I need to consider that progress in the establishment of my goals.

Considering I have approximately 210 pages of notes and scenes to go through, I'll be adding a minimum page count for editing to my goals. I'll also be taking into account that I'll be returning to work next week, so my available writing time will be shortened.

New goals for Week 5:

  1. Work toward completing Rogue Master manuscript by:
    • Edit a minimum of 20 pages per day or
    • Spend a minimum of 4 hours per day transcribing/writing
    • Post progress and favorite line to Facebook Fan Page and Twitter
  2. Begin work on new manuscript(s)
    • Spend a minimum of 1 hour plotting/outlining each day a new manuscript or
    • Read through previous manuscripts for potential scenes or
    • Transcribe/write on new manuscript for a minimum of 1 hour each day
  3. Post 2 blogs a week
    • Weekly Challenge Analysis - Post by Sunday
    • Create a list of blog posts (minimum 8 posts/subjects)
    • Blog post of any other subject - Post by Thursday
I'll be posting my updates on both my Fan Page on Facebook and under my Twitter account.

Thank you to everyone who has visited my blog and social media sites.

Have a great day!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Making Writing A Habit I Can't Kick - Week 3 Analysis

I am definitely making progress.

Admittedly my Week 2 Analysis just went up on Saturday, July 30th (a week late) but at least it was posted!

As for the writing, that has been an interesting adventure in and of itself. Claire gave me that wonderful challenge of 6,000 words and/or 6 hours of writing a day, which made for some fun times, I'll tell you. Boy, did my inner critic have a field day last week.

I digress.

Here it is. Week 3 analysis - The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

The good, the bad, and the ugly - that's how I'm going to break this post up.

Let's start with the goals for the week - In order to meet my target of having the ugly rough draft of Rogue Master done by July 31, 2016, my goals for week 3 were:

  1. Write every day
    • Add a minimum of 6,000 words a day to the manuscript using any means necessary - free write or transcribe;
    • and/or spend a minimum of 6 hours every day working on adding new words to the manuscript
  2. Post two blogs per week
    • one post should be the Weekly Challenge Analysis;
    • second should be on any other subject I want
Review of Goals:
The Ugly:
I failed on goal #2 for posting on my blog. Yes, I did finally post my Week 2 Analysis, but not until Saturday, July 30th - which was the end of Week 3 and an entire week after the post was due.
And, I didn't get a second post written - So a big fat 0 for that goal.

Based on the fact that I was actually able to post to my blog every day for Week 1, I should feel bad about this - and here's the really Ugly part: I don't feel guilty.

It is true that during the first week I was able to post every day - yet, let's be serious about this - they were boring posts. Boring I tell you! A regurgitation of information totally yawn-worthy.
(And yes, I swiped these pics from a fellow author, Candace Blevins off Facebook - pay attention to the last one!)
photos property of Candace Blevins
IMHO, adding more posts like that would have been a waste of my time and the readers' time.

The Bad:
For this goal, the bad is that the weekly analysis is probably going to run a close second in the yawn-worthy contest, but I'm going to keep posting them, so I can analyze my progress; keep those interested up to date about my projects/WIPs; and to satisfy my science research geek CP, Claire Jane.

Which means, at lest one post a week is definitely going to be a "blah-blah-blah" kinda thing. Feel free to ignore it if you so choose.

The Good:
Here's the good about this blog posting goal - I'm going to put out a request to you, the readers, to feel free to comment on what you'd like to hear from me. That way, I have a jumping off point to work from and you might actually get to see what you want --

If all else fails and all I get is crickets chirping, I'll dig out some unfinished scenes or deleted scenes for you to enjoy. That way they get shared, you get a peek at my weirdness, and I get to check off one of the items on my weekly "To Do" list. Awesome!!

Now, on to goal number one adding 6,000 words a day to complete the ugly rough draft of Rogue Master.

The Ugly:
I suck. But, I'm not angry at myself. And why do I suck, yet I'm not angry at myself? I suck because I did not finish the ugly rough draft of RM. What I did do was get an end word count on Friday, July 29th of 80,008 words, which was 5,008 words more than I'd planned (considering I'd revised my goal from 90,000 to 75,000 in Week 2) - which is why I am not angry at myself.

How can I possibly be angry when I made progress? It's so funny thinking about this. If you read any of my early Week 1 posts, you would recognize what a bitch I can be to myself. I set such high expectations for myself that I think I do it just so I can fail! So I'll have a reason to be angry at myself and call myself names and point out all my failings. And does that help me in any way? No. Does it inspire me to push harder to succeed? Hell to the No! Like I said last week, biggest take away I've gotten so far from this Writing Challenge, is to accept that things are what they are and move on. The past can't be changed, and dwelling on it only limits your potential for greatness in the future.

Learn the lesson and move on!

The Bad:
I didn't write a minimum of 6,000 words a day, nor did I put in 6 hours minimum a day on my writing. This, I am a little disappointed in myself over, yet, I'm fully embracing Claire's "It is what it is" philosophy. 

I didn't reach that goal, but that doesn't mean I can't keep trying.

The Good:
The good about this particular goal failure is that it wasn't really a failure. And it's all in the wording of the goal: "a minimum of 6,000 words"

See, that is the part I get to do my happy dance about and say "nanna-nanna-boo-hoo" to my inner critic, because, while I only added 3,400 words on Saturday, July 23rd, and 2,119 words on Sunday the 24th; On the 25th I did 8,955 words; the 26th was 8,907 words; the 27th was 7,388 words (as well as 1,382 words for my blog); the 28th was 7,047 words - after 5 hours at the day job and a killer migraine; and the 29th was 6,767 words - A grand total of 44,583 words (not including my blog) which averaged out to 6,369 words a day. (*Phft* to you nasty inner critic!)
So what if I only spent a total of 32.08 hours on the manuscript. That's an average of 4.58 hours a day - still enough hours to be considered a full-time worker at some businesses.

Bottom line:

I did a FUCKING amazing job!!

Happy dance, cuz I love Donald O'Connor & Gene Kelly
gif courtesy of
In Week 3, I transcribed 21,805 more words than I did in Week 2, and invested 15 more hours to my writing (free write and transcribe) than in Week 2.

Ironically, while I again had no restrictions on my allotted social media time, comparing Week 3 numbers to Week 2 numbers I spent:
  • 4.9 hours less on Facebook
  • 2.6 hours less on Twitter
  • 9.9 hours less on email
Yet, I spent 4 hours more on my blog (darned redesign and analysis).

That's a total of 11.7 hours less social media time. Funnily enough, it seems the drawback to that reduced time, was the loss of 5 "Followers" on my Facebook Fan Page. Then again, Facebook has issues sometimes that I still have yet to decipher.

Overall, I would say there was much more good that came out of Week 3 than bad.

Moving forward, things are going to be more challenging simply due to the nature of the point I'm at in the writing process for Rogue Master.

Week 4 and possibly Week 5 are going to be completely focused on reading through what's been transcribed and editing it to meet the modified story paradigm. I have approximately 15 new scenes that need to be written, so my focus is going to be more on the hours invested rather than word count - although word count is still going to be a great measuring tool since I'll be able to see how much I cut away from the old scenes and upgrade them to meet the new story.

Plain and simple, Week 4 goals are:

  1. Complete ugly rough draft of Rogue Master
    • add a minimum of 6,000 words using any means necessary - free write or transcribe
    • spend a minimum of 6 hours working on editing, writing, or polishing the ugly rough draft
    • report daily updates on social media - Facebook and Twitter
  2. Add word count to any other/new manuscripts
    • add a minimum of 6,000 words using any means necessary - free write, transcribe, outline, plot, etc. (to be considered part of goal 1 daily word count)
    • spend a minimum of 6 hours working on outlining, plotting, writing, transcribing, reading through old manuscript copies (to be considered part of goal 1 daily hours)
  3. Post to blog at least twice a week
    • 1 post = Weekly writing analysis due no later than the following Monday
    • 1 post = any subject that comes to mind or reflects posted reader interest/requests
Pay close attention to that very last goal, because I'm putting the ball squarely in your guys' court! I need subjects people!! Or you're going to end up with teacher-speak, lectures about character development; learning styles; plotting; the difference between the Care Package, Plot Protagonists, and Story Protagonists (you'll end up with this one anyway because I'll be posting about the class I'm teaching online with HCRW....)

Don't make me use my teacher voice. ;)

Thanks for showing up and have a fan-fucking-tastic day!!!