ROW80 – Round 1 – Check-in #14

Time for Sunday’s ROW80 progress update.

I took everyone’s advice from last Sunday’s check-in and spent most of my writing time doing some visualization, thinking and writing about how I see myself as a successful author to try to nail down my genre. In doing so, I discovered that I have a character arc/theme that keeps rearing its head. It wants to be told. It’s begging to be told. It won’t leave me alone.

I realize this is the issue I am struggling with because I can’t figure out how to show the character arc in a story without it being a self-help book. Hence the reason I keep bouncing around genres and why I can’t settle on a story idea because I haven’t hit on the right story and conflict to showcase it. And this weekend I started wondering if it can even be done?!?!?

That’ll be the question I’ll spend this week pondering and playing around with.

Writing Goals:

  • Complete outline of WIP
  • Write 1750 words a week, on average 250 words a day (can be on WIP or other writings like flash fiction, character development, world building etc)
    1347 – words total for this week
  • Finish James Scott Bell book (nearly done)
  • Read 2 other writing craft books
    Done Will Write for Shoes: How to Write a ChickLit Novel
    1/3 through Save the Cat 

Social Media Goals:

  • Blog – post 4 times a week
    4 posts (+1 guest post at Elena Aitken’s – total word count: 4381
  • Blog – post ROW80 progress reports twice a week (Sunday and Wednesday)
  • Tweet/Comment on at least 10 blogs a week
  • Comment on 1 new blog per week (ROW80 or otherwise)

Healthy Lifestyle Goals:

  • Cardio – 3 times a week (Monday, Wednesday, Saturday)
    1 cardio (another busy week and exercise took a back seat)
  • BowFlex – 3 times a week (Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday)
    Zero – oops!
  • Maintain a daily food/migraine journal

The wins:

  • Although I didn’t meet my word goal, I feel like I made good progress on figuring out what the issue is. I believe this will help me move forward and either find a way to write the story or let it go for now.
  • Rocked the social media.

Where to improve:

  • Gotta step up the exercise!

Have you ever started the writing process with a character arc first and built the story and characters around it? How are you making out with your ROW80 goals?



  1. Jillian Dodd - Glitter, Bliss and Perfect Chaos says:

    My suggestion is to listen to your character. I don’t think you need to decide on a genre yet. Don’t close yourself in like that. Start writing down what you character is saying to you. Write down everything you know about her. If you have a character arc, write it down. What she looks like, acts like in the beginning of the book, and how she will be at the end. Then start writing the story. I think plotting and planning and all that can be helpful, but for you have a creative mind, Let it go. See where it takes you, then you can decide where it fits.

  2. I like that you are spending time thinking about the story you want to write. I truly believe it is all right in there, we just need to get out of our own way!! You are clearly moving forward, hitting goals or not, the progress is obvious. I’m looking forward to reading what else you discover.

  3. I agree with Jillian, Natalie. Don’t worry about genre right now. So many of them overlap anyway. Bounce your ideas off another writer for some feedback. Any of us, I’m sure, would be willing to help you on that. Also, if you’re thinking it sounds more like a self-help book, try to create the story that would SHOW the advice rather than tell it
    You had a good week…but when busy, something has to suffer. You’ll get back to your exercise and all that blood flow will help you think more clearly about your idea!

    • Awwww Marcia – thank you! Great suggestion. That is exactly where I am at – trying to think about different ways I could showcase the arc. I’ll definitely fire out some emails when I get something more concrete together to get some suggestions/guidance. YOU ROCK!! I’d be lost without y’all! 🙂

  4. Um, excuse me…I don’t see a Dirty Fighting entry on that list of writing goals….why is that?? *heckling*

  5. Okay – so you have a self-help book – consider this: Who would you write it to? That is the character and the life situation they learn the advice from the SH Book in, is the story. Just a thought.

    Have a fantastic week, Natalie 🙂

    • Absolutely fantastic suggestion Gene. You totally got me thinking! I’m going to put more time into this line of thought…totally on to something! Thank you!!!
      Have a FAB week as well! 🙂

  6. Wonderful progress, Natalie!
    And I agree with everyone else. Listen to your character and follow her/him around. Perhaps you begin with a mystery and halfway through it aliens invade your story lol Who knows? You just gotta be open to it 😉
    It’s so nice to see you figuring this out and being almost a part of this. I think you’re doing great, great! Much better than when I started writing anyway lol
    Have a great week!

    • Gotta be open – such great advice and motto Juliana! Absolutely…
      Really?!?!? Because I kind of feel like I am floundering around all over the place. LOL!! Your words mean a lot to me and inspire me to keep pushing forward. 🙂 Thank you!

  7. Like Gene said – who would the self-help be written to? You’ve got a great character it sounds like, she’ll tell you.

    I’m with the others urging you to throw out the genre label and just write. Let the story work itself out of you. You may want to consider if you are using the “plan” as a buffer between you and the story. (I have!) If so, then dive in and let it be a mess and trust that the orderly person inside of you will fix things later. Just saying. . . by the way a writer you may want to consider reading after this manuscript is written is Elizabeth George “Write Away. She extremely organized writer. Sounds like you’d love her system, but I think it will offer you more insight once you wrestle your character to the ground and make her talk. LOL.

    Have an incredible week, Natalie. We’re here cheering you on!!!!

  8. let your character take you into the story, natalie and the genre will reveal itself in no time. it’s cook how it works. enjoy

  9. Like others have said, listen to the character. A plot is nothing without a strong character, and if you develop her, she’ll probably tell you the plot and the genre. Great work and good luck this week:)

  10. Like everyone else, toss the genre out and listen to the character. And I think Gene is spot on. Best of luck for the upcoming week Natalie!

  11. Natalie, write the book. Sure it sounds like a self help book to you, but if you write it by nature it will flesh out. If you think it sounds like a self help book cause of the character arc, figure out what the foil to that character arc might be. I like to think that all writing is an argument and when we tell stories we have to make certain not to have any strawman arguments in our literature. You have great friends with awesome suggestions for you which are all amazing, and they all point to the fact that to know the next step you have to be intimate with the story in a way that requires you to write. Keep up the good fight!

    • Absolutely wonderful suggestions!
      I love how you wrote “to know the next step you have to be intimate with the story in a way that requires you to write.” Wowzers. That said it straight up…and on point! Thank you…I will get to it! 🙂

  12. Natalie, I don’t mean to pester you, but have you given any more thought to checking out WWBC? I really think that it would totally help you with your story, genre, character arcs, well everything. Talk to Gene, he’s in WWBC or Kristen, or Donna Newton, who is a sweetie.

    And if I can be of any help. just let me know. You have my email address. Don’t worry, your novel will all come together soon. I can feel it girl. You are going to write a fantastic break-out novel!!!

    Have a great week Natalie! 🙂

    • LOL!!! Karen, you couldn’t pester if you tried! 🙂 I have thought a lot about WWBC but just didn’t feel I was far enough long with a committed idea to join. Not to mention, I wasn’t sure with work and life if I could commit to it (where ROW is so flexible) but it’s definitely on my radar. I will absolutely follow up with a few peeps to get a better sense of what is involved and how it works.
      Thank you so much for the fahhhbulous advice, support and encouragement Karen!! I really appreciate it and couldn’t ask for a better friend and writing support system. Your words and belief mean a lot to me…thank you!! Sniff…
      Here’s to both of us having a FAB week!

  13. A lot of great advice, Natalie! Good luck this week, working it all out. Can’t wait to see what you come up with!

  14. I have nothing to add to the wonderful advice already given here, Natalie. I will say that you rocked your social media and the word count looks good anyway. Sometimes, I do step back to take stock, and that can be very worthwhile. BowFlex needs to be renamed PartyPumping or something like that to be more appealing. Good luck with the exercise!

  15. Hi Natalie – I just want to congratulate you on all the strides you made this week – all the things you set out to accomplish and did. Kudos! Now, I’d also like to lend a hand in the exercise arena. I’m a personal trainer as well as writer and if I could suggest just two exercises for you to do that will work your entire body (in very little time – I won’t say with little effort because that’s up to you), will help build muscle and burn fat (eg. “cardio” [which is really a misnomer but I won’t go into that here] and weight training all in one) they would be: BURPEES and PLANKS. There are a grillion vids on youtube if you’re not familiar with these exercises. If you did 50-100 burpees/day (easier said than done, trust me) and held plank for 1 minute at a time for 3 minutes resting in between for about 15 seconds, this would definitely help you on the road to better health and well being. And the great thing is you can just do them right next to your desk or wherever you like. No equipment needed. No assembly required. 🙂

    Just my two cents. I wish you the best of luck in reaching your exercise and writing goals now and tomorrow and beyond.

    • Kelly…THANK YOU!!
      I was just thinking about how I could get WAY more workout into my day but incorporate things into my time at work. I brought my sneakers to work this week with the intent of going up and down three flights of stairs at least once a day – trying to increase each week. And I got back to Ginger’s suggestions of 10 squats every time I hit the bathroom and I started doing 10 lunges before I leave. But the plank and burpees are fantastic as well! Going to check out some videos and start scheduling stuff so I get reminders throughout the day to get out of my chair and move!
      Thanks again for the FAB suggestion. I really appreciate it! Woot woot!

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