Friday, March 8, 2013

March Madness Check-In Day 8! #WIPMadness

I am so excited about this first week of March Madness! Not only have we had huge participation, but also we have bloggers and readers and illustrators involved this year! Plus we've already seen people reaching some of their goals!

Besides that, I have some more great news!  One of my favorite March Madness cohorts (ok, you're all my favorites) Deb Marshall, has just told me she'll be donating $25 for a craft book of choice to one of our lucky participants!  I'll be starting to award prizes next week,  so make sure you don't miss your name being announced at any of our check ins.

We have seen some great goals accomplished in the last week already. But...that's not true for everyone. Because sometimes life gets in the way, doesn't it?

I admit, life is getting in the way for me in a pretty good way this week. I'm writing this post from sunny Mexico! For me, this time around, it's the lure of cocktails and swimming pools and sandy beaches that has been threatening to keep my from my March Madness project. It's also been nearly impossible for me to find wifi in order to check in. But if you're struggling with health or money or relational issues, or over-commitments in your life...I have also been there.

Here's the first rule to helping yourself get back to the writing: Don't beat yourself up about it.

It's true, stuff in life will get in our way, and some of it is completely unavoidable. But I honestly think what gets MORE in our way is our own attitudes. When we feel angry or guilty or frustrated with ourselves because of our lack of production, that only multiplies the problem. So give yourself a break. Have you already had to take a day or a few days off of writing this month? It's not the end of the world. What would be worse is sitting around and moping about it for the rest of the month. See if you can make time today to squeeze in a hundred words on your latest project. It's something, and it may break the negative words that are playing on repeat in your mind.

If life is getting in your way, here's a second thing you can focus on: Use your creativity to find more time.

We are all creative people. That's why we're here. Do you have someone in your life you could ask for a little help from that would free you up for a couple of hours per week? Can you keep a pad of paper with you on your lunch hour to brainstorm plot points or snippets of dialogue? Since having a young child in my life, I have learned that I can't always have one-hour writing blocks, no matter how much I want them. It took me some time, but I've learned how to be productive in five minute slots, if that's all I have. How can you be creative in order to get more done this month?

And one more suggestion: Encourage others.

Even if you are struggling on your project, reach out at our check-ins and encourage others. Put a smile on your face as you do it, even if you don't feel like it. Don't get caught up in jealousy over those who are writing more than you (or those who are writing from Mexico). Be positive for others, even if you don't feel you can do it for yourself right now. I promise, your kind words and encouragement will come back to you just when you most need it.

So even if you haven't made the progress you'd hoped for so far this month, make a commitment with me right now to get back on that horse. We still have THREE weeks left! In the comments, tell me you're with me, or I'd love to hear how you have overcome life getting in the way of your writing, either this week or in the past. What has worked for you?

Don't forget to stop by Kim Baccellia's blog tomorrow to check in!


67 comments:

  1. I got super lucky and had 2 snow days from school right after receiving beta notes on my WIP. Waiting on one last reader's feedback and then I'm going to send it to my agent.

    In the meantime, beta'ing a MG fantasy and waiting, waiting, waiting.
    Oh! And getting my author photo taken on Sunday! So exciting :0)

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    1. I'm putting my comment here because Jaye helped this week by looking at a couple of small snippets and brainstorming. I'm down to doing some pretty picky work and it would have taken a lot longer if I hadn't reached out and asked for help. And if she hadn't been there.

      Yay for CPs!

      I took a huge step yesterday and contracted with a web designer. It's something I've been putting off for a long time, but doing it helped keep me jazzed. I'm planning on finishing my revision by Monday. BUT if I hit it early, I may give myself a day off.

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    2. That's giving a positive spin to snow days, JRo! LOL! Glad to hear you're making good progress and managing to give a hand to Pat as well. Great teamwork!

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    3. Author photos were a real highlight for me too, Jaye! Hope you have fun with them, and definitely post them!

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  2. I definitely needed a pep talk! I had one of those writing days yesterday that involved a lot of staring and scratching my head. But I'm anxious to jump back into the water this afternoon and get at least a few pages written. I just gotta remember to STOP REVISING as I write!

    Have a fantastic time in Mexico!!!

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    1. I'm glad you were ready to get back at it today, Jennifer. Go, go, go! And NO REVISING, lol. ;)

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    2. Thanks Jennifer! Yes, I usually give the best pep talks when I need them myself. Hope you're having a better day today.

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  3. Hola! I'm still on the horse despite the mean virus that's taken over my head. I'm pleasantly surprised at how smooth the transition from MG edits to revising the first draft of YA contemp has been. For the first time in months I feel like a writer again. ^_^ Yay for March Madness! I am also very encouraged by all the participants and charged up by the enthusiastic response. Go, Wipsters, go!

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    1. You ARE a writer, Angelina, so I'm glad your writing enthusiasm is back. I agree: "Yay for March Madness!"

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    2. Yay for a smooth transition! Go, Angelina! *\o/*

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    3. So thrilled to hear your progress is going so well, Angelina! Can't wait to read it :-)

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  4. thanks, Denise for the pep talk. It's true that a lot can be done in 3 weeks - also true that you can lose a lot of time if you worry about TIME! I've done something new with my revising - created an excel doc with character lists on one worksheet, chapter by chapter break down on another and relationship grid on another. It's sort of a really tricked out outline - after the fact of course, because I seem incapable of outlining BEFORE writing 85k words. I was really pleased by how it showed up some of the weak points of my plot that I need to shore up. Now I feel like I have a guide going forward with revisions. YAY! And I concur with the estimable Angelina - GO Wipsters!

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    1. An after-the-fact outline was super helpful to me with an earlier ms...I also seem incapable of outlining before writing, lol, but after is so much better as a guide for revisions! So now...happy revising! ;)

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    2. An excel grid sounds like something that would be helpful for me right now too. Too many things to keep straight in this MS. Maybe I should take a day and work on one of those...

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  5. Amen, Denise! What a fabulous post! It's so easy to fall into that trap of beating ourselves for not being more productive, which only generates more apathy or anxiety. As Ghost Hunk always says, "Forward motion."

    I had a major move, directing a conference, illness, and death all in one month a few years ago, and I thanked my stars I had my writing to think about even if I didn't get much on paper. Huge ((hugs)) to those of you are are ploughing through adversity and hanging on to your WIPs for dear life.

    GO, WIPSTERS, GO!!!

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    1. "Forward motion"...sounds like a great mantra! :)

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    2. Ghost Hunk? Love it, Mary Ann! Wow, sounds like you've been thrown in a lot of different directions! Way to keep a great attitude :-)

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  6. So true that it's important to both snatch whatever time we can as well as not beat ourselves up when life interrupts. You in the #wipmadness crew all do such a fantastic job of reminding us of both of these things.

    I've had some better days than others this first week, but overall I'm on track to finish my revision before going off to Spain. I'm working with some fantastic notes that are making me dig deep and make this manuscript shine, so I'm sure it will be worth it.

    Thanks and cheers to all!

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    1. First Denise in Mexico and then you in Spain! Oh, my! At least that provides good motivation and a deadline for getting the revision done. Happy revising today. I hope you make good progress with it.

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    2. Awesome to hear that Kip! Hope your edits get completed, you are happy with them, and you have a fab time in Spain!

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  7. Oh boy, did I need a pep talk today!
    Thanks Denise!!

    I've been doing a lot of very nitpicky preparations for writing, and very little actual writing...
    I started this week by making a list of everything that I feel is NOT working right now in my manuscript, and examining those points with a magnifying glass.
    Now it's time to go in and get some real work done!

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    1. Yay for getting all that prep work done! Happy writing! :)

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    2. Maybe just to pick yourself up, you should make a list of your favorite things that ARE working? Just a thought.All the best with progress this week.

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  8. Great post, Denise. I'm pretty good at beating myself up, and it's SO not helpful. Right now, though, I'm moving forward and I feel great about that!

    Total change of plans for my March Madness goals (seems to me it's not the first time I've had to switch up my goals during a March Madness...such is the writer's life, haha). Making good progress on revisions of a YA...loads to do still, so the next three weeks will indeed be madness (but I'm okay with that, lol).

    Soak up a few rays for me, Denise -- I hope you're having a fabulous time!

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    1. Switching goals isn't a bad thing since you're still moving madly forward. ;) I'm beginning to think I should switch mine to this history project, but I really need to get the other things done, too. I'm trying an 'hour-at-a-time' approach, one hour per project today.

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    2. I love it when people aren't afraid to change plans in the middle of a challenge like this. I can be stupidly pigheaded and stick with a project that is obviously not working.

      Rays soaked on your behalf, Shari! Thanks for all of your participation and helpfulness with March Madness. I really appreciate it!

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  9. Thanks Denise, I needed the reminder that some days are just bad for writing and others are great.
    Today was a good one, I got my 2 assigned chapters revised in record time and can slack off and watch Dr. Who with my son this afternoon.
    Happy weekend, everyone!

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    1. So glad it was one of the good days! Congrats on getting your chapters done. :)

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    2. Yay! Congrats on the great progress, Carolyn!

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  10. So very true. I found it's very important to not beat yourself up if writing doesn't go your way. As a matter of fact my one fab publisher, Liz Burton, reminded me of this very thing yesterday.

    Sometimes I just give myself permission to take in a movie or go and have a pedi. Plus, one time I ended up going on a Roswell TV show marathon which really helped me with digging deeper for emotional reaction with my own characters.

    This week started out not so great as I was sick. Then Wednesday night I worked on my revision and also got a couple of chapters under my belt yesterday!

    Happy writing everyone! And don't forget to stop over at my site tomorrow!

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    1. I'm glad you were feeling well enough to get back at your revisions! Yay, Kim!

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    2. Aw, sorry you've been sick, Kim. Hope you're feeling better today!

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  11. Hello everyone! I have been missing you guys for weeks. No new writing for me in awhile; just some edits for the agent. I have also JUST moved into a new place (all by myself!), and I adopted a rescue pup as well. My new day job is lovely, and I'm doing very well and looking forward to diving back into writing soon. I can't wait to catch up with you!

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    1. Welcome back, Lisa! You've obviously had a lot on your plate lately... lots of new stuff to contend with. Take it from me, the days are slipping by too quickly, so hope you're back to your writing very soon.

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    2. Wow, lots of new & exciting things in your life! :)

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    3. Glad things are going so well for you, Lisa! We're here for you whenever you're ready...

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  12. The sun is out here today, Denise, so I don't feel quite so envious as I picture you lounging in Mexico's warmth. Enjoy your holiday and come back refreshed and raring to write again. :)

    I'm trying not to beat myself up. I set such basic goals and can't believe a week has passed and I've made next to no headway on them! The interview questions are done, but that's only because the author provided a slew of them for me to pick from and I just had to 'window dress' them.

    Yesterday I abandoned those efforts and spent the day working on my church history project. It wasn't listed among my goals for the month, but it will be an ongoing project and I needed to make a start printing out heritage photos and items for the first album's initial pages. At least the day wasn't a total creative waste. I'm staying there today and hoping to compose an introductory essay. Am hopeful I'll have success to report at Kim's check-in tomorrow. Wish me luck!

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    1. Definitely not a creative waste. :) Good luck with the essay!

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    2. Wishing you lots of success, Carol! I'll look forward to seeing some positive check-ins coming...

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  13. Wahooo! Enjoy Mexico!

    I'm feeling awesome - one of my CP's said something this morning that TOTALLY UNLOCKED my revision and I am crazy excited about it.

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    1. So awesome, Joy!! What would we do without our crit partners.... I hope you have a blast with your revisions!

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    2. Don't you love that? Great CP are like about the best thing in the world.

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  14. Has it been a week already? I guess I'd better start reading faster, only 9 books to go! My other goals are going okay - just posted my 2nd blog entry of the week so that frees up the weekend to read & write.

    You're giving some great advice here, and I hope there aren't too many self-defeating writers like me out there. It's so easy to get distracted from your goals, especially in today's world. But the support and encouragement of fellow bloggers, from published and well-known authors to indie self-starters to friends who aren't 'writers' is enough to make anyone push through the pessimism and keep writing. March Madness has kept me accountable, and I'm doing my best to balance family responsibilities and job searches with my goals. So thank you for the reminder to focus on what we can do and not dwell on what we can't.

    Hope you're having a great time in Mexico!

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    1. Congrats on the blogging, and yay for balancing goals with the rest of life! :)

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    2. Thanks, Chris. Yes, balance is certainly key.

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  15. Forging ahead. I've mentioned previously that I make use of mirrored doors to brainstorm and dictation software for those necessary hands-free moments, but sometimes, you've just got to ride it out.

    I get that I have deadlines, workshops up the wazoo, and lots and lots of pages to write, but sometimes there are more important things. I'll always prioritize my nephew and niece over my writing and have made my peace with the fact that if I had to give up my passion for writing for them, I would. That's not something I can easily say, but when I'm with them, it's all worth it. I can't wait to be a mom.

    Oddly enough, to help me overcome certain obstacles, I just bust through them. If it means that some assignments get put off awhile longer, so be it. Sleep is not my friend, as of late, so I might as well find alternatives for my muse. I find inspiration in my family and they keep me going, exhaustion, and all.

    I know these weren't exactly writing tips, but at the end of the day, I'm a happier person than I was before I took on writing and being an aunt full-time. At one point I had three jobs (one full-time, two part-time) that sucked the creativity out of my body. I was miserable. I made a conscience decision to change my approach and I haven't been happier. Poorer, but happier. I guess that's the great trade-off because the supportive family understands what writing means to me.

    Okay... obviously the cold meds have kicked in, so I'm off to see the wizard now (read: I think there's a diaper that needs changing).


    Cheers,

    Tonette

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    1. Very cool that you've put so much thought and effort into knowing what you value and sticking to your priorities...inspiring! :)

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    2. Sounds like you have a lot of perspective, Tonette! Thanks for sharing your ideas and thoughts.

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  16. Life got in the way for me today but in a different way. I had so much momentum for this novel I'm working on and my enthusiasm hadn't waned as it so often does and I knew deep down in my bones that this was *it*. After writing two novels I knew weren't strong enough to stand on their own, I had found it, my story, and I felt more strongly about it than I've felt about anything. Then, I got an ARC for a forthcoming novel in the mail today and realised about 100 pages in that this author's premise and mine were eerily similar. Not just that, but the final sentence in her book was IDENTICAL, absolutely identical, to the one I had written *yesterday*. It was a simple three word sentence but it wasn't just that. The parallels were so striking that when I hit a particular plot point in chapter 5 of her book, I literally screamed a a very bad word and dropped the book.

    The crazy part is that I was going to query this author's agent with my MS when it was ready.

    I know this happens and I know it isn't the end of the world, but right now, in this moment, I'm just very frustrated. I had all this great momentum and it came to a screeching halt today. Goodbye, wind in my sails. My mind feels like a derailed train right now.

    I'm going to keep working on my MS because stories evolve, even as you edit them, but damn. It felt like being punched in the gut. I only wrote about 500 words today before I decided to take a break to read this book and now all I want to do is eat ice cream and feel crappy.

    I know I'm being melodramatic, but whatever. UGH. Hope you're all in better places, mentally, than I am right now.

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    1. Oh Melissa, I'm so sorry. *hugs* That happened to me once and "goodbye, wind in my sails" was exactly it. So upsetting!

      I'd suggest you go ahead and feel what you're feeling, but then tomorrow, get back to work on your story. Remind yourself why you love it and why you need to tell it. It's not going to be the same story, even though it has the same premise, because you are NOT THAT AUTHOR. And when you finish it and you get your book deal and release date finally comes around, it will be at least a few years after this other author's book came out, so IT WILL BE FINE.

      Hang in there, and write your story. The wipmadness crew is all rooting for you!

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    2. Oh no! That's terrible! *hugs*

      Finish the draft, though. Maybe as you rewrite or revise, you'll find what makes your book different.

      Also, now that you've read the book, you now know which plot points to avoid.

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    3. Melissa...same thing happened with my book NEVER ENOUGH. A couple of years before I sold it there was a book with such a similar premise, I gave up for a while. There really is room out there for a lot of similar stories--they'll all have their own unique flavor and voice. Believe me, every established author I know has one of these stories. So definitely keep at it!

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  17. Melissa,

    This very same thing happened with me with my paranormal CROSSED OUT. I felt 'this is the one that gets me that agent and book deal'. Then I got some ARCs and found a couple paranormals with similar premises. I was very upset. Then I told my writing mentor who told me not to worry about it but continue to write my story. I did. A couple agents passed on my story as they had clients with similar premises too. I ended up going with a small press but to be honest I wished I held out a little longer. Everyone was telling me paranormals had saturated the market. Only later did I find out that agents are still picking up clients with paranormal premises. Oh, well. Live and learn.

    Don't be so hard on yourself. Taking a little break does help. I wanted you to know I feel for you as I've been there.

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    1. Thanks, Kim. I resolved to give myself some time to feel my feelings before letting go of the negative ones and moving forward with my story like it hadn't happened. I just need to make it even better and absolutely unique.

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  18. Thanks for the pep talk, Denise. I have taken an unexpected trip out of town, just overnight, but enough to interfere with writing time. I do see that March Madness is keeping my wip in the forefront in my mind, though, and a two hour drive is good thinking time.
    Onward!

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    1. Way to go, taking advantage of driving time to think things through. Gotta use whatever time we can snatch during March! ;)

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    2. So glad to hear that, Liz. One thing I can count on each March and November is that I will definitely at least think about my WIP each day of the month.

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  19. I'm a bit late to checking in, cause life got in the way too.

    Still dealing with the effects of drinking pain meds for my stomach bug. So when a friend asked me to go to a reading by a famous poet in the next town, I should have known that my day would pretty much be over.

    It rained terribly, which made us late, which meant I couldn't eat. Which meant that by the time I'd driven back in the rain, I was just plain exhausted. Managed to read one chapter before giving up and going to bed.

    Forgetting to check in.

    Luckily, though, I'd written 800+ words this morning, which means I'm still almost a day ahead of plan. Hopefully it won't be too difficult to write 1200 words today to make up for writing less than 1k yesterday.

    Okay! That's me for today. Seeya!

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    1. 800+ is great! So great that you got that done first off. I hope you have a good writing day tomorrow! (And I hope your stomach feels better!)

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    2. Way to stick to your plan, even when you're facing so much!!

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  20. Checking in late due to a busy day. Aren't they all? Feeling good about my revisions after getting past the halfway point on my ms. Still determined to turn this in to my agent this month.

    Best of luck, wipsters!

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    1. So glad your revisions are going well! Way to go, Jeanne!

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    2. Glad to hear revisions are going so well, Jeanne!

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  21. I cannot even describe how excited I'm getting for this. I just joined today, and my mind is all over the place figuring out where to start. I need to focus and make a plan :)

    Congrats to everyone who has met their goals. And to everyone taking part, keep pushing and have fun.

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  22. Oops, fell asleep before posting. But last night I slashed 4500 words from my manuscript. Yaaay! Still working on the stitches, but with effort this weekend, it should heal without a scar. ;)

    Also, so much this. I always encourage other writers even when things aren't going well. I try my best to find time to be creative. Lately I've been making a point of making the time during all my breaks at work, during the time after waiting for DH to pick me up (we carpool), and sometimes even in the car. I'm not always 100% successful, but I try. And I've gotten better about not beating myself up about it. But it does become me making a point of saying sometimes, "I need to write, please respect that." Eventually even the attention-grubbing kitties sigh and settle somewhere within petting distance.

    (Kids, however ... well, haven't had the opportunity to try that yet. Ask me again in a few years.) ;)

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    1. 4500?? What an inspiration! I better get to work...

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