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LET’S NANO

November 5, 2020 by in category Pink Pad by Tracy Reed tagged as , , ,
Author typing on an old typewriter | Tracy Read | A Slice of Orange

I did it. I officially jumped into the NANO pool.

I don’t know what it is about this year and the desire and excitement to participate in NANO. Maybe it’s the unusualness of 2020 or maybe it was just this was the year I was supposed to do it. I have attempted to participate in NANO in the past, but never followed through. Technically, I can say I did NANO in 2016 when I wrote and published a book a month, but I won’t because that was a different writing schedule. By that I mean, some of those books had been written over a period of months. The ones written in a month were less than fifty thousand words.

I am a proud pantser, but I am also a planner. I spend about an hour on Sunday or Monday planning my weekly schedule. NANO is the perfect opportunity for me to combine the two. I also research things I’m not familiar with or need direction on how to do.

Knowing I was going to do NANO I went to YouTube and a few AuthorTubers. The amount of information out there was overwhelming. I heard everything from stockpile your favorite snacks, stay hydrated, don’t forget the wine and coffee, meal prep, hire a housekeeper if a messy space is a pet peeve, post “do not disturb” or other threatening signs on your office door for annoying family, join a NANO community, exercise, have your favorite music and get plenty of rest. Oh yeah, and make a writing plan.

I thought my head was going to explode. I took a step back and reminded myself of one simple fact. I wrote a novelette in three days with about six hours of sleep, coffee and a couple of meals a day. I’m pretty sure I can handle fifty thousand words in a month.

How did I prep for NANO? I created a plan that was right for me.


Commit to NANO
Don’t just say you want to do it, but tell someone. When you give life to the task becomes a reality.

Join a group for accountability
This is one of the areas where I messed up in my previous NANO attempts. Having an accountability group encourages me to stick to my plan and make attainable goals. Thanks Charmed Writers.

Get snacks
I liked the suggestion to have snacks at the ready. However, prior to NANO, I was diagnosed as being wheat, soy, almond, cow’s milk and egg white sensitive. Some of my favorite snacks include those things. However, I found a couple of things that work, plus I have plenty of water, coffee and red wine.

Keep a journal
I decided to keep a journal of my daily progress. I also use it to keep notes about my book.

Set a daily word count
The other prep tip I liked was setting a realistic daily word count. I knew I wasn’t likely to write on Sundays, Thanksgiving and I needed a little flexibility for BFCM [Black Friday Cyber Monday] sales for my lingerie business. Exceeding my daily writing goal will allow me to skip a couple of days if I want to.

Figure out what to write
When I was toying with the idea of NANO, I had an idea of what I wanted to write…the follow up to my 2019 NANO book.

As I said, I’m a pantser so when it comes to writing, I plop my butt in the chair and let the characters tell their story. Last year I selected a book I wanted to write, but for some reason I never connected with the story. It was like the characters had gone silent. I switched books and the story practically wrote itself. I didn’t complete the book, but I did write fifty thousand words during NANO.

I completed my 2019 NANO book in February of this year and as of this post, it’s with my beta reader and headed to my editor this weekend.

I wanted to release the book earlier, but with the strangeness of 2020, I decided to push it back to February 2021. When I completed the book, I had no intention of continuing the series. But the characters said something different. I deleted the last chapter and made part of it the first chapter of book four, the book I’m writing during NANO. My plan is to release the books back to back next year.

I just completed NANO day four and I feel good about my progress. As of this post, I’m at 9002 words. My daily goal is 2084 words, but I’ve been exceeding it.

Here is the best advice I have for anyone wanting to do NANO…just write. Whether the words make it to the final draft, it doesn’t matter. The goal is write a book with at least fifty thousand words. It doesn’t have to be good, it just needs to be completed.

Happy NANO and Thanksgiving.

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Finish Your Book by Kitty Bucholtz

October 10, 2020 by in category It's Worth It by Kitty Bucholtz tagged as , ,

One of the things I’ve noticed about how the pandemic has affected writers is that many have lost their mojo. All the craziness in life has been filtered into a never-ending news stream that is sucking the joy, creativity, and peace from our days. I know a lot of people who haven’t been writing, or not nearly as much as they normally do.

On the other hand, I’ve also talked to quite a few people whose lives have been disrupted to the point that they’ve started thinking about finally writing that book they’ve been dreaming about. They’re just not sure where to start.

These friends and strangers have encouraged me to create a group coaching program to help writers finish their book. Over the course of eight weeks, I work with you to rebuild a foundation for making solid progress on your book. One client finished a book she’d been working on for over 20 years! Another wrote 2 1/2 times his goal during the program. It works. And I’d love to help you or someone you know.

I did a series of webinars last week to give folks some tips on getting back into it, and explaining the program. Check out the replay and let me know if I can help you. At the very least, I hope you get some ideas and energy from listening to me. I’m excited for you to finish your book! You never know, you could write a book and change the world!

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Find Motivation to Accomplish Goals, and Hang On To It

July 12, 2020 by in category The Writing Journey by Denise Colby tagged as , ,

There are just some days I find it really hard to sit down and work on my manuscript. But, I have goals to reach. And somewhere, somehow, I have to find motivation to accomplish those goals. Otherwise I get frustrated and want to give up.

Blog Banner by Denise M. Colby Titled Find Motivation to Accomplish Your Goals; includes a line that goes A to B; wood panel background

Writing a book is a longggg process. I’ve been working on mine for over seven years. Granted, I have a day job. I have a family. And I have volunteer requirements. And in the beginning I had no idea what I was doing and didn’t know what were realistic measurements or tasks I could expect myself to accomplish.

But I’ve learned a lot in the past seven years, including what works for me to keep moving forward.

Here’s how I motivate myself to accomplish goals:

Break up tasks into manageable chunks.

Photo of planner page to highlight daily tracking for writing by Denise M. Colby
Tracking my daily goal of touching my manuscript is fun and helps keep me on track

Choose to track word counts or time. Sometimes just spending 15 minutes (Flylady anyone?) is enough to move forward and keep my mind in my story. My planner I use has little images in the front of each month. If I touched my MS that day, I color in the image. Didn’t matter how long or what I did. It sure helps take away the feeling of being stagnant.

Write out specific tasks that can be checked off.

showing example of how to accomplish writing goals by Denise M. Colby
Writing out actionable goals and checking them off motivates me

Back in March when all of sudden my home became work and school central for the four other people in my family, I had to get really specific with the tasks I wanted to accomplish each week. Part of that was to show my family what I was working on, and part of it was for me to stay on task when there was a lot going on around me.

I was editing my MS and wanted to get through four chapters a week. So on an index card, I wrote out each week’s dates and which chapter numbers were assigned that week, and then I stuck it to my little bulletin board, where I could see it. 

I’ll tell you, being able to check off each week when I accomplished those chapters was so encouraging. Yes, I will need to go through my MS again. But I’m not focusing that far ahead. I would derail myself if I did. Instead I focused on what I needed to accomplish that day (one scene or two) for that week. This makes it way more manageable. 

And for full disclosure, I had to change some of the dates. There were a few weeks where I just couldn’t get it done. The chapters needed more work, and we had family birthdays to celebrate. So I adjusted and kept going.

Figure out time blocks that work for you.

Simple clock on wood plank background, choosing the time you work to accomplish goals, matters
Adjust time to work when most effective

Are you a morning person or a night person? I’ve learned that editing in the afternoon right now doesn’t work for me. I get too caught up with work and everyone else is up and making noise, having conversations, and it’s challenging to focus uninterrupted. I enjoy the morning when it’s more quiet.

Although with 7 and 7:30am conference call meetings recently, I don’t get to start my day working on my MS, before I jump into work. I try, but realize that it’s not realistic five days a week. Instead, for now, I’ve adjusted my hours and try to work only 1/2 day on Friday and then work on my MS the rest of the day.  

This has given me momentum heading into the weekend to still accomplish goals. Sometimes our family dynamics make it hard to work on things all weekend, but by telling my husband I need some time to work on my book, it’s helped set up the expectation.

Take a moment to catch your breath.

Photo of My Brilliant Writing Planner page where there's a place to reflect and reset each day, which helps focus to accomplish goals
Taking moments to reset helps me focus on the task for the day

I find when life is crazy busy, I can’t slow down to focus on just one task. Too many things are screaming at me to get it all done, NOW. In my handy dayplanner each week, are two pages of daily inspiration. Some days I can only think of writing one word in the daily square – my word of the year. This year it’s courage and writing it out reminds me why I chose that word. Courage to keep going when it’s hard, courage to take risks, courage to trust God’s plan for my writing. 

Other days I write other things in the daily spots, whether it’s a Bible verse, quote, thoughts, or recently I’ve been focusing on 5 things I’m grateful for each day. It’s amazing how taking a few minutes to slow down and pause helps my mental state and allows me to refocus my brain on the next task I’m preparing for. (And I’ll admit, some days it’s toward the end of the day and I hadn’t written anything down yet. I still pick it up then and recenter myself).

Sometimes I need to just create without thinking. With Washi tape I add color and design to my planner pages. Maybe not everyone is like this, but I find it really helps center me and I get to see something for my efforts. 

Find something that causes excitement.

caption: motivating words helps me accomplish goals, screen shots of words emailed back to Denise M. Colby from the class she's teaching.
Positive words encourage and motivate me

I’m teaching an online course this month through ACFW on SEO Marketing. I love this topic. And so many people have responded to participate. As I reply to each one and read their comments of what they wanted to learn and their answers, I’ve gotten really excited. I get to share this topic with other writers, help them, and make a difference. With each email, I’m more motivated to keep doing what I’m doing.

There’s something to be said about having little wins in your corner that can help motivate. Interacting, helping and teaching other writers seem to be one of mine. 

wood panel background with the words Yay! Celebrate accomplished goals
Wins motivate!

I could keep going, but I’m off to participate in a virtual writing conference. It seems talking and sharing with other writers is another motivator for me. 

I hope one of these ideas helps encourage you to accomplish goals in your writing. When I set out to decide on my topic for this month, this one came to mind. I wanted to capture the positive energy that I’m feeling right now, so in those times when I don’t feel it, I can remind myself of what I can do to help myself through the more challenging times.

If you have other ways to motivate yourself to accomplish goals, I’d love to hear it. Write it in the comments below. We can all use new ideas to help motivate us to accomplish our goals!

Blessings,

Denise

If you are interested in more, I wrote a post in January for this blog, that talked about staying on task. And over at my own blog, I post monthly on various topics related to encouragement, writing, and anything Disney

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It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year…To Reflect on Your Accomplishments

December 12, 2019 by in category The Writing Journey by Denise Colby tagged as ,

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

To reflect on our goals and all that we’ve accomplished, so loved ones will hear!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

Many times when we are working by ourselves, at our desk, with our words, we find ourselves deep in the minutie and seeing only all the things we have still left to do.

We may not have met any of our aggresive goals each month, or even each week, as life intrudes on a daily basis for us all.

Yet, there are things we do that we should say, “yes, I did that.” And feel good about it.

For me, I’m rounding into my eighth year and still haven’t published my book. (I started this journey in 2012). If I focused only on that one thing, I would be frustrated, disappointed, and inclined to throw my hands up and say that I’m done. 

But if I count 

  • Webinars I’ve attended
  • the magazine articles I published this year, 
  • my monthly blog posts at A Slice of Orange, 
  • my blog posts on my own website, 
  • the conference I attended and taught at for the first time, 
  • the monthly meetings where I got to talk shop with other writers, 
  • and all the emails and social media posts I read and shared over the past year, 

I’ve actually done a lot. 

Not to mention the weekly critique meetings with my two lovely critique partners, where I’ve gotten some fantastic feedback on my manuscript, and the helpful feedback I’ve been able to provide in return. 

Then there’s the pitches I’ve submitted for teaching at more conferences for next year and the deadline dates for contests I hope to be ready for.

All of that tells me I’m making progress. 

It may be slow, but progress is progress.

And I wouldn’t be able to track my progress, if I didn’t take the time to write out these things I’ve accomplished throughout the year.

So, I encourage you to take a step back and think about what you have accomplished in 2019.

  • Did you write any new words?
  • Did you edit any words?
  • Did you publish a book?
  • Or an article?
  • Or a blog post?
  • Did you attend a meeting? 
  • Or a conference?
  • Take an online class?
  • Read a reference book or a craft book?
  • Listen to a webinar?
  • Listen to a podcast?
  • Ready a blog post or newsletter from another writer?
  • Did you meet up with a writing buddy?
  • Do you have a website?
  • Or a newsletter?
  • Did you post a social media post related to writing?
  • Or read a few?
  • Did you read a book for fun?

There’s a lot of things we do to put words on a page and turn them into a great story. Don’t discount any of it. Whether it just fills our soul to inspire, or gives us tools we can apply to our writing, it all helps us continue on our writing journeys.

Have a very Merry Christmas! I’m thankful for you all.

Here’s to another year of writing related stuff in 2020!

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The Power of a Restart – by Kitty Bucholtz

July 9, 2018 by in category It's Worth It by Kitty Bucholtz, Writing tagged as , , , ,

Since it’s early July, I’ve been thinking about and talking about and podcasting about hitting the Restart button. How have we been getting on with the writing goals we decided upon six months ago?

I know that I am way off from what I expected. Moving to another country will do that to you! So I’ve been thinking about how I want to adjust the year to finish with strong, achievable goals. I did a live broadcast presentation for the Yosemite Romance Writers in May, and decided to use the recording for a mid-year podcast. Here’s the link to the audio, and here’s the embedded video.

Right after I posted that episode, it occurred to me that it might be a good time for a personal goal review as well. When I started thinking about that for myself, I realized I had some changes to make in my life if I wanted to accomplish my new/biggest goal for the year – recovering from burnout.

Here is the link to the audio. And here is the video with my self-discovery. 😉

I’ve been getting a lot of feedback from people about the episodes where I’ve talked about my firsthand experience with burnout. (Here’s the embarrassingly honest look at my journey in audio and in video.) Now that I see how much it affects other people as well, I’m going to bring on more guests to talk about how to recover and how to avoid it. I hope my willingness to talk about both burnout and restarting helps others – you included! 😀

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