Why I’m not doing NaNoWriMo this year

NaNo-2017-Participant-Facebook-CoverIt’s the end of October. For many writers it’s the time to sharpen our brains and finish up prep for this year’s NaNoWriMo challenge. I’ve done the challenge for several years in different ways ranging from full manuscripts and partial manuscripts, down to editing and revision goals. While I’d love to be in a good place to dig into the third and final book of my Stonebearer series this year, I only barely finished the very rough draft of the completed second novel last week.

My real reason for not doing NaNoWriMo this year is simple – experience. I know my working habits and how much I can do before developing a serious case of writer burnout. It’s taken a few decades to learn I’m a hugely competitive person with myself. If I set a goal I kill myself to go get it.

For my first NaNoWriMo in 2010, I crossed the finish line an exhausted wreck. At that point in my life I had one fewer child and more free time and energy than I have now.  Immediately after finishing, I continued to blog and did an editing pass of my first manuscript that I had finished a few weeks before NaNoWriMo started. Looking back, I don’t know how I did it.

I learned I am not invincible when baby #3 came around in the Fall of 2011. All my time disappeared and with it, most of my energy. I stopped writing for over a year. When NaNoWriMo rolled around I watched wistfully as other writer friends whipped themselves into an excited frenzy to work on a new project. I would still set a goal, goals are good, usually to finish the revisions on my first book baby and for years not much happened.

It wasn’t until 2015 when I felt ready to attempt writing the sequel. I had both older kids in elementary school and the youngest in preschool. It was literally the first year since 2010 where I had a handful of hours free during the week.

It wasn’t enough time. I stressed myself out. Four free hours a week isn’t enough to do NaNoWriMo. My writing crept into family time and evenings and occupied every moment it could like an overfed goldfish in a bowl. But, apparently I’m very competitive. I had to finish the 50,000 words. And I did. And then I shelved the uncompleted project for nearly a year.

This year, I’m okay with working at my current pace. I have projects underway that I like and am moving at a pace that I can keep up with while maintaining a good work/life balance. If by next year I haven’t started the third book of the trilogy, which I doubt, then perhaps I’ll make it my 2018 project.

And that’s totally okay.

***

Are you doing NaNoWriMo this year? I’d love to talk about it in the comments!

Advertisements

Reprioritizing

happiness free quotes

I’ve been thinking a lot this past week about what I need to do to move forward with several of the projects that I’ve been wanting to complete. I’ve loved blogging for these past few years and I will still be coming in from time to time with announcements, book reviews, and featured books and artists.

Life is full, busy, and wonderful and I need to be spending my time doing what’s going to make the biggest impact.

See ya around!

Summer 2015

These crafts look great because no child made them.

These crafts look great because no child made them.

Yesterday marks the first official day of summer and that means making plans to survive the hotter months. It was also Father’s Day – (a huge happy Father’s Day to my dear dad who reads my blog, love ya tons Daddy!).

As much as I’d love to say I’ve got it all figured it out for this year, I don’t. Because of year-round school my kiddos only get a three-week break, which isn’t much compared to traditional, but sometimes still seems like forever.

I want to make those three weeks count and not have it turn into another lost opportunity.

The more ambitious part of me wants to plan crafts and activities for each day and be super active. I’ll teach them new skills like crochet and beading. We’ll work out in the garden and grow fun food. We’ll visit museums and go swimming. It sounds fun, and exhausting.

The more realistic part of me knows how this has gone in the past. I’ll bring out a project that I’ve spent time preparing. Before we even start, one kid will start whining that he doesn’t want to do it. While I try to convince him how much fun it will be the other two get into the materials and start opening up and pouring out and dumping things. I try my best not to lose it because now I have to help them find all the bits they each need from the wreckage and they are frustrated that it doesn’t look like how it’s pictured on the box. While all of this is happening, the third child will have to be taken potty. The second I leave the other two will wander off back to their video games. When I get back I have to choose if I want to repeat everything again or just scrap the whole idea.

Here’s to another summer. I will plan a few projects for them as well as for me. I hope that everyone has matured a bit since last summer and maybe things will go better.

Until then, wish me luck!

Careful where you click!

Admit it, you thought about clicking it, didn't you!

Admit it, you thought about clicking it, didn’t you!

The internet has tightly interwoven itself into the fabric of our lives. Many of us watched as it was born and embraced it as the greatest new thing ever, and in many ways it truly was. It still is.

The truth is, the internet is a dicey place. Casual browsing can lead to all sorts of weird and wonderful places. However, you have to be smart on how you browse. Today, I was looking for new fantasy art to perhaps feature here in the future. I clicked on an image from an unfamiliar site and my computer freaked out – or at least pretended to. It locked down the pages, I couldn’t exit my browser, and a recorded message began playing over and over. Irritating as hell.

The voice kept telling me in broken English that my computer was infected with something horrible, but if I called the convenient number on the screen they would be able to help.

Yea…right.  Not falling for it. I’ve seen this scam before.

Had I been less PC savvy, this would have been a big deal. Good thing I have a few tricks of my own. I opened the task manager and killed the browser. Boom! Problem solved.

In many ways the internet is like a big city. When you stick to familiar, well-known places and know the address you’ll arrive safely.  However, if you are cruising around looking for a good time, you are asking for trouble. Mindless browsing and following click-bait will lead you to dark alleys where people are waiting to steal your wallet. And on the internet they can disguise themselves in super-appealing, non-threatening ways that you wouldn’t expect.

Protect yourself. No one is going to do it for you. It is your responsibility to know what’s safe and what’s a bad idea.

Be smart with passwords. Don’t give them to anyone – especially anyone you don’t know online. DUH.

Install an ad blocker so you don’t see most of the garbage that is being thrown at you. If you can’t see it then you won’t be tempted to pick up any of the shiny bits.

Don’t download ANYTHING unless you searched for it yourself and are at a reputable site. Even then, after the download is complete run a scan before starting the program.

Be smart. Question everything. If something seems too good to be true, it is.

And if by some innocent mistake, someone starts talking to you and asks you to call them to fix your computer. DON’T DO IT.

You’ll thank me later.

***

Have a story about the internet gone wild? Share it in the comments below!

It’s Time To Shake it Up

change1Those who have been with me for a while will know that I run two blogs, this one and also My Literary Quest, a blog geared specifically for writers. Juggling both has been a challenge and makes it harder to attract readers. Less posts per week = less readers in general.

It’s time to shake things up.  Next Wednesday you’ll find my weekly writing post both here and at MLQ in a new feature called … wait for it … Writer Wednesdays. Ok, the name is lame, but sometimes the most obvious title is the best.

Starting next week there will be more posts here for you to enjoy. If you are readers of both blogs, yes you will start seeing duplicate posts on Wednesdays. If that drives you crazy, and I don’t blame you, go ahead and unfollow MLQ and focus on the awesomeness here. I won’t mind.

If you’re a writer, stick around. Things are just going to get better from here.

Deadlines…

One of the attractive perks of being a writer is that for the most part you get to set your own hours and create your own working environment.  When you are not under contract you also decide when your deadlines are.  The only deadlines I have are the ones that I have imposed upon myself and missing them usually only means a loss of productivity.

Currently I have a deadline to submit a fiction piece to an anthology.  They close the submission window at the end of the month and will accept nothing outside of that window. The piece I’m working on is a thirty page fantasy that I’ve submitted before without success.   When I reread the story for this anthology I realized that it had several fundamental weaknesses that had to be fixed.

The problem is, when I revise something and am not careful I will end up rewriting the whole thing.  This not only takes huge amounts of time but it also requires more editing passes to correct any new passages that I end up writing.  I had hoped to have the revisions done by today so that I could have a friend give it a test read, but I still have 18 pages to go.

This might have been easier had I not gone on a family camping trip this weekend. I had envisioned sitting back with my tablet as the kids played around the campsite whittling away at this story and having plenty of time to get it finished, but that wasn’t the case. Every time I sat down a family member would come join me that wanted to talk. In the spirit of niceness I obliged.

Now I’m starting to sweat a little.  I’d love to have this piece published and to have some real writing credentials under my belt, but I can’t submit something that’s not ready either.

With luck I’ll find a few large chunks of extra time today to finish it!

photo credit: Stuck in Customs via photopin cc

photo credit: Stuck in Customs via photopin cc

The Finish Line is in Sight

back to school sign owlNext week marks the magical and wonderous time where I send the oldest two children back to school. This is the first year when they will both go for the full day and I can’t contain my excitement.  The last six weeks of summer vacation have been exhausting, the house is a mess, and the unending chorus of “I’m bored!” has grated me down to my last nerve.

I’m looking forward to spending more uninterrupted one on one time with my youngest. With the other two around it’s been hard to focus on just him because brother and sister come and need me to do something, or want to do what we are doing, or start arguing and force me to divide my attention.

I’m also hoping to find more writing time.  With all three in the house it’s been too chaotic to sit at the computer and focus.  At the beginning of the summer I had finally reached the part of my draft that didn’t need extensive renovation. Not being able to work on it has been sheer torture.

Writing with a two-year-old in the house will still be a challenge, but it’s got to be easier than having all three rattling around.

Heck, I might even finish the Man in the Cupboard series!