Category Archives: word count

Victoria Schwab Does It

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I’ve talked about tracking progress before, and today I saw Victoria Schwab’s tweet on keeping a calendar. She awards herself with stars for the number of pages she writes and the number of pages she reads, as well as the amount of exercise she gets each day. The magenta stars are for days she’s travelling or attending events.

As you probably know, I keep a calendar of my writing and submitting schedule. I set goals for the week, then record my progress as I go. But I know I’m not getting enough exercise. Victoria’s calendar has inspired me to keep track of my own physical activity. I truly believe in the importance of balance. We need to be aware of how we spend our time. So much of my life goes to household chores and tasks that have to be done every day. Having a calendar to prove that will force me to take action and reclaim some time for myself!

How do you keep track of where your time goes? How do you make time for yourself?

Note: Victoria Schwab’s “A Darker Shade of Magic” is a current goodreads Choice Awards Best Book of 2015 nominee. If you’ve read and loved it, vote for it here: https://www.goodreads.com/choiceawards/best-books-2015.

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Balance

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Here, in the crazy beginning week of NaNoWriMo, it’s easy to get swept away with reaching that all-important word count. I posted yesterday about the benefits of coloring to highlight the importance of balance. I’ve read some participants’ accounts of frustration, disappointment, and pushing away children and spouses in order to write that novel by the end of the month. The thing is, NaNoWriMo simply isn’t a good idea for some people. Some of us don’t work well under that sort of pressure. Furthermore, some aren’t wired in the manner necessary to produce the sheer quantity required to complete that kind of a task. I’m known for my (mostly) clean first drafts. The way most of my writing is published is very close to the way it comes out. I’m not saying I’m a superior writer, though. I’m saying that most of the editing and revision process happens inside my head, before I even begin to write. For me, the emphasis–each time I write–is quality.

Michael Grab is a stone balancing artist. He does some truly amazing sculptures. His method of rock balancing is a good metaphor for my writing process. Before he places a rock, he studies it carefully. He says, “The fundamental element of balancing in a physical sense is finding some kind of ‘tripod’ for the rock to stand on… By paying close attention to the feeling of the rocks, you will start to feel even the smallest clicks as the notches of the rocks in contact are moving over one another. In the finer point balances, these clicks can be felt on a scale smaller than millimeters.”

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He moves on to a discussion of the mind in balance. “Parallel to the physical element of finding tripods, the most fundamental non-physical element is harder to explain. In a nutshell, I am referring to meditation, or finding a zero point or silence within yourself. Some balances can apply significant pressure on your mind and your patience. The challenge is overcoming any doubt that may arise.” (Lisa Be, Life Buzz.com) So, it’s important to take care of yourself: mind, body, and soul.

In terms of NaNoWriMo, find what works for you. As some wise person once said, “It’s only a failure if you didn’t learn something from the experience.” NaNoWriMo isn’t going to work for me. I decided to take the first week to totally revise my YA novel, Children in the House of Vengeance, taking some valuable feedback I’ve gained from a few rejections and putting them into action. You see, to date 3 agents have requested the full manuscript, and 3 agents have rejected the full manuscript. This tells me I need to re-evaluate it. I’m still writing something each day, but it might be a new portion of that book or a blog post, a few pages of my new long project, a poem, a guest article for someone else’s blog, or my Awkward in the Midwest column over at Easy Street Magazine. As long as I’m working, I’m happy.

So, if you’re like me and you’ve already decided NaNoWriMo isn’t for you, give me a shout! It’s a lonely world out there in the digi-sphere right now. Everyone is busy crunching through those word counts. Or, if you are continuing on the path to write your entire novel this month, tell me about it. Let me know that you’re still alive!OogwayPoTalk

The important thing is to find BALANCE in your life–including the part of you that is a writer. Take care of your health. Take care of your heart. Take time to laugh. And cry. And talk to other people. Most important of all: Be present in your life. Because, as Master Oogway says to Po in Kung Fu Panda, “Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That is why they call it the present.”