ROW80 – Round 4 – Check-in #11

It’s time to update you on my ROW80 progress. You can find a list of my goals here.

Work In Progress Goals:

  • 2 hours on WIP (well on track for my goal of 5 hours/week)
    • 30-minute writing sprint with Kerry Meacham and Lauren Garafalo (thanks to you both!)
    • 30 minutes working on paranormal story idea
    • 1 hour mind map/brainstorming session on women fiction ideas
  • Facebook message check-in/chat with my ROW80 Sista – Nancy J. Nicholson.
  • I reported on my ROW80 goals one on time.

This week was fantastic for me.

Well, y’all might not think so since my word count is dismal (non-existence – lord). I haven’t started writing yet although for me, that’s ok since my main ROW80 goal is to complete ½ of a plot outline. Seems a smidge tame compared to most but alas, I am realistic if nothing else.

So it all started when I asked Kerry what a writing sprint was and voila, within a few hours I was in the middle of doing my first sprint. We decided 30 minutes was good since I am a newbie. Lauren joined in on the fun and off we went. Since I am not at the “prose” writing part, I decided to apply James Scott Bell’s LOCK method to my paranormal story idea one more time to dig deeper. I just let go and completely “free wrote” about the idea. Just flushing out stuff, possible scenes, character and plot issues, conflict ideas, possibilities etc. After 1060 words, again I came to the same conclusion, although I think it’s a FAB story idea, it’s….well…not what I want to write!

For one, it’s too complicated (especially for my first novel) and it’s not the genre I feel most drawn to write (even though I love to read paranormal, I don’t think I want to write it…at least not yet). I want to tap into my natural voice (more in line with my blog voice which is easy and fun…more me!) and write women’s fiction. With a recommendation from Jenny Hansen, I started reading Jill Conner Browne’s Sweet Potato Queens and I LOVE it (thank you Jenny)! It’s more towards the style I want to write. Now to craft an idea around that…hmmmm…more brainstorming/thinking required! I’ll spend some time this weekend working on that.

It’s the oddest feeling in the world. I feel ready to write a novel. I feel like I have the support system and am building a community (y’all, a couple great friends, hubby and Mom) and am gaining the knowledge (reading craft books and blog posts etc) but….for some reason I feel like “the” idea is remaining elusive. Like…I should keep learning and edging my way forward but it’s not quite time yet?!?! I don’t know – does that sound normal? It’s not fear. I am not afraid to commit. It’s like I sense something coming but it’s still just out of my reach. I can’t put my thumb on it. Anyway, I’ll keep working on it and see….

Hope everyone is having a great NaNo thus far!

Blogging Goals:

  • Blogged 3 days (4 posts) including this post.
  • Read, commented, retweeted/tweeted on over 15 blogs.

How is your ROW80 progress going thus far?



  1. Natalie, congratulations on staying on track. I am so excited for you — you are on your way to write your very first novel. Woo hoo. I totally understand your reservation though. And yes, you sound normal. I would suggest joining a writers’ critique group. You will learn from each other and push each other in the right direction — of course if the critique partners are right for you. Are you a part of any writers’ association? I belong to SCBWI because I write YA novels. They fall into children’s literature category, thus SCBWI. But there are quite a few good writers’ societies; just do some research in your area. You will be amazed how empowering for a writer is to be a part of a good writers association. There are resources that you can’t get your hands on on your own. There are people that you can learn a bunch from. There are ideas…
    Good luck, dear. I hope you will get that ready-to-write feeling really really soon. 🙂

    • Angela – sniff – you rock! Thank you so much for your wonderful comment. Totally made me feel way more normal. Actually, great suggestions and to be honest, I have NO idea what’s available in my area but I’ll definitely start researchering and asking around. You are so right! Thank you!! xoxoxo

  2. It sounds so normal … bah!
    I keep hearing “I don’t feel ready to write …” Newsflash: you’ll never feel ready! You’ll never be ready!
    The best way to learn how to write? is to write! Seriously.
    Write. Get it wrong first. Swap genres. Get it done. Then, you’ll know if it’s working for you, if you’re writing the best genre etc …
    When young, I wrote stories about me and my friends. Ridiculous stuff that will never, ever be published. By then, writing was a hobby … When I tried writing for real, I went for adult contemporary romance, but more mellow, like Nora Roberts. No kidding.
    Then, after 3 complete manuscripts, I found myself. Older YA (or New Adult) paranormal or urban fantasy. But I had to go through all those phases, all those tries to finally find the right fit for me.
    The way it happened with Stephenie Meyer about writing one manuscript her whole life and sell it in two weeks is one in 7 billion.
    Most writers, like 99% of them, worked on several manuscripts before getting it right and selling.
    So don’t worry about making mistakes. You’re just starting. You won’t learn if you don’t make mistakes.
    You should watch this video:
    Beth Revis is a NYT bestseller YA sci-fi author. On this videos she talks about all her previous works before getting it right.
    My best advice: DIG IN! If mistakes happen, if you need to change something, it’s another step on you ladder. You have to go through it.
    I wish you all the luck in the world. And I’m here and I’ll be here shaking my pompons to you!

    Hmm, sorry about the long comment lol

    • Btw, I’m sorry if I sound too harsh. I really don’t mean too. I’m trying to encourage you lol odd, right?!

      • Girl, you didn’t sound hard AT ALL! Seriously – never fear when you comment here! Tell it like it is – that’s what I need. Bring it. I really appreciate your honest opinion and suggestions. Always give it straight up…you rock!!! 🙂

    • THANK YOU Juliana – that is a fantastic video! Loved it and sooo true! And you are right, it’s about just digging in and writing – something – anything at this point. LOL! Waiting for “the” idea probably sounds much the same like ‘waiting for Prince Charming to just show up’! It doesn’t happen. Great relationships are born of hard work. Great writing is born of hard work and practice. You really helped me wrap my head around it – thank you so much!
      And…ummmm…no apologies – I LOVE long comments! LOL!!!
      Seriously – a million thanks for the fabulous push in the right direction! I am going to stop waiting and DIG in!

  3. I hadn’t heard of a writing sprint before. It sounds like what I learned as simply a freewriting warm up. It’s a great way to get a longer session going. (Or do it for a few minutes to get a shorter session going.) And I love to do that the way you did. That’s actually excellent for plotting work. You can think through the possibilities without fear of losing an idea — just blather it all out on paper.

    • Hi Camille,
      Thank you so much for stopping by. Yes, as Kerry explained to me (and you can find his explanation here: it’s about simply writing for a set time period with no distractions. You can do it alone or you can do it as part of a gang on twitter – just put a shout out together on a hashtag you follow and see who wants to join in. At the end, you all report your word count progress (even though it’s not about how many words you write since maybe your sprint is to rework a scene). I think it’s about using the power of coming together as a group to set time aside to WRITE! We put the invite out on the #row80 hashtag with a time and then went for it! It was fabulous.
      I agree, free writing is a wonderful tool to just brain dump ideas and get thoughts out there. Afterwards, it’s like Christmas as you sort out the mass of ideas and pick what to keep and what to drop. Sooo much fun! And it’s a fantastic way to warm up your creative juices.
      Thanks again for stopping by! 🙂

  4. asraidevin says:

    I love Row80 check-ins keeping us all on track.

    Writing sprints are fun as well, but I rarely get 30 minutes of uniterrupted time. I guess my everyone is in bed, time to write might count. Things like that helped me win NaNo 2006.

    Good luck with the rest of your week!

  5. Yep. Sit your butt in a chair and write. If you need a prompt, there are so many resources online or just look out your window and think, ‘What if’ and go from there. What if the sky started to melt…
    Butt in chair. Write. There, now you’ve got it! Don’t worry about genre or audience right now. This is the time for you to experiment and make tons of mistakes – no one will ever know! Find what style of writing draws you in and makes you want to sit your butt in the chair every single day and write. But don’t get too comfy. Some days you’ll have that style and everything you’ve written thus far. Ignore this. Sit your butt in the chair and just start writing. Even if it’s, “I hate everything I’ve written, it’s all crap. Oh look! Something shiny…” Just let the words flow and pretty soon you’re back on track and loving what you wrote again.

    You are so, so, so lucky to have figured all this out before you started writing! Some of us *cough loser me* are new to the whole, read books on craft, blog, social media, stuff. You’re going to be zooming past us on your way to publication!

    But not if you don’t sit your butt in the chair and write.

    Love you! Mwuah!

  6. Great advice… ALL OF IT – yes, dig in – yes, get your butt in the chair and write – yes, join a writer’s group, a critique group – yes, join any author associations in your area – yes, don’t be afraid of mistakes … How lucky to have all of these people to offer advice, suggestion, resources, experience! It will happen Natalie – believe it and do it – and don’t look at your watch!

    • I feel sooo blessed to have such a support community in place as I dip my toes into the writing waters. Lucky and so deeply appreciative!! I’ll be sitting my ass in the chair and writing!!! Thanks Patricia – HUGS!!!! 🙂

  7. Natalie, I agree with Juliana. Start writing on any idea you have. Do your free writing sprint and see what happens. Just like with the paranormal, you’ll find out if an idea is the THE one by playing with it. Get rid of any thoughts you may have that you should write ‘like’ someone or have ideas ‘as good as’ someone else, and just write. Rmember how Kristen had us brainstorm things about ourselves to come up with a tagline for our blogs? Try the same thing with ideas for a book. Brainstorm, do a mindmap or whatever works, and then play with what sounds best to you. Sometimes just getting out and watching people will give you ideas for a story. Then you have to test them to see if they’re enough for a whole novel. You’re ready–you just have to jump in!

    • FANTASTIC advice. Thank you so much Marcia – I really appreciate it. You rock!! I am going to work on brainstorming and doing some mind maps this weekend to just play around and I am going to keep WRITING until something sticks. Like everyone has said, it’s about practice and progression and the only way you get that is to just plug away and move forward. Love your amazing words and I soooo appreciate it!! 🙂

  8. *Resident cheerleader/dancer swinging by*

    Yeah, Juliana started it off right and the others are dead-on: you’ve got to write. All the craft reading, plot brainstorming, outlining, etc. is excellent. Great process if that is what ends up working. Thing is, you need to get the writing done to know what works or doesn’t.

    Since you are new to long fiction writing, maybe let that go for right now. Am I saying abandon the novel? Nope. But maybe let the push to get the novel idea go and use your writing time to go to town on some exercises or other prompts. I bet doing free writes and sprints on some of these will either free up the juices on your novel work (and whatever ideas you have in mind now) or maybe toss you another idea that you can run with. The free writing might give you some nuggets you can use for other stories and will definitely help you solidify your fiction voice.

    Write some sample scenes. Write about your chars in conflicts. Write about a character and some background stuff like what their favorite food is or who their first love was (to get to know them). Just write.

    Write, write-a-light, write write. 🙂

    • Love the cheerleading Barbara – you ROCK!
      You are soooo right! It doesn’t always have to be writing towards a novel. I can write and explore, have fun, do character sketches etc and just see what flows and grows.
      I really appreciate your suggestions, feedback and vote of confidence Barbara! YOU are the best. Woot woot!!!!

  9. kerrymeacham says:

    LOL – Do you see a theme here, Nat? 🙂 Do you wait for the idea to start writing, or do you write and the idea comes? When in doubt….write.

    I really enjoyed our sprint earlier this week. Our daughter is in town for a few days, so I’m not doing much of anything until she leaves Saturday. Maybe we can do a sprint this weekend some time if you’re around.

    Good luck with “the idea” and keep writing until it comes. ~clink~

    • You are so right Kerry – it’s all about the writing isn’t it?! Sounds like if I ‘wait’ for the idea, I could be waiting a long time. LOL! I’ll get at it. Woot woot!
      Have a wonderful weeken dwith your daughter – sounds wonderful! We are off to the camp for the weekend so I will likely be offline from tonight until late Sunday evening but I’d love to do another writing sprint this coming week. I’ll fire a note on the #ROW80 hashtag and we’ll set something up.
      I think I am finally starting to “get it”! I can’t say it enough how much I appreciate and love everyone support, advice, and kicks in the ass – it’s just what I need!

  10. Look at you go!! Woot! Woot!

  11. Congrats on what you’ve accomplished! I had about 2/3 of my MIP written and went back to the outline when I got stuck. It’s made such a difference. Even though I haven’t added many new words to my MIP in awhile, the outlining has made a huge difference. They’re making it easier to see where I need to fix the story or add to it. The writing will so much faster once I do get back to it, I think.

    • It’s wonderful to read about someone who uses an outline so effectively. I can totally see how it’d make things easier when it comes to the actual writing part. Thanks so much for the vote of confidence! 🙂

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