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Tag: NaNoWriMo

Good Shepherd Mulligan

mulliganLook at the word count to the right of the page. See the Good Shepherd? There were a lot of words on that bar. They’re all gone.

That’s right. I am starting over. Even though I have said before that going backwards is rarely a good idea. In this case I think it is. I have started and stopped this novel several times, and never been really happy with the results. So when NaNoWriMo came around this year, it seemed a good time to start over.

For the uninitiated, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month, a time when thousands of authors around the country come together and write novels at the same time, at the blistering (for some) pace of 50, 000 words in a month.  It’s tough, filled with meetings called “write-ins” where authors gather, put in earbuds or place headphones on their ears and write in the same room with goals like 1000 words an hour or other ludicrous games.  Coffee is consumed in copious amounts, and families are neglected.

In the end, a large percentage finish, a few publish, and all move on, with the goal of doing the same thing the following year. Some don’t even write, or write very little the rest of the year. While that is not the case for me, it has been a time of change and fluid schedules for me since the summer, and writing projects like The Seventy and Good Shepherd that I had hoped to finish have languished.

Not this month. Watch this space. Watch the word count rise and surpass its previous marks. It is a Good Shepherd Mulligan Month. Now shhhh. I am off to write about the Valley of the Shadow of Death.

It’s dangerous out there. Excerpts coming soon.

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Hitting the Reset Button

reset buttonThe last two years have been full of mixed emotions and turmoil. The last three months have been especially trying. I’m not telling you so you’ll feel sorry for me, but more to share something with you I’ve discovered as a freelancer and a writer, some things I think you can apply to your life no matter what you do.

Get away. I took a trip in October, business and pleasure mixed, but away from the hustle and bustle of my everyday life. The time away showed me some simple things.

  • Stuff kept happening, whether I was here or not.
  • Items that were ‘vital’ and ‘urgent’ were still waiting when I returned.
  • My real goals were being neglected.

Returning offered a dose of both humility and reset thinking. Putting your personal needs aside does more harm than good, and directly impacts your ability to help others. Staying true to your goals is vital for your own happiness.

thankful_calmEvaluate relationships. There are people who you interact with who are good for you, and those who are bad. There are even those you are bad for. Taking a step back and reevaluating those relationships leaves you choices: repair the relationship or cut ties and walk away. Neither choice is wrong in every case, but knowing the issues are there is vital.

Start saying no. The two most powerful words are both yes and no. The most underused in the world of the entrepreneur is no. Simple fact: not everything is an opportunity. Sometimes the best way to move forward is to hone your focus, and say no to things that don’t fit.

I’m thankful for the trials of the last few months, and for the last two years, even as rough as they have been. The many issues have brought me to this point, where I can hit the reset button.

I can’t wait to see what happens next. What are the areas in your life where you should hit the reset button? I’d love to hear from you.

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Handicapped

It’s NaNoWrimo, which for the uninitiated stands for National Novel Writing Month. For many authors or just those who aspire to writing a novel, it’s a month of stress: an attempt to write 50,000 words in a single month.

For me, that’s usually not a really big deal. If you write every day, it really isn’t that hard. But this year, it is a month of renewed focus, and renewed pain.

“Pain?” you ask. “Troy, we see you writing all the time. Why pain?”

There’s something you don’t know, something I tell, until this point, only a few people who know me well. It’s a quick story, and I need to get back to NaNo myself, so here you go:

SAM_3769If you look at my right hand, you will see a scar across my thumb. It’s from a motorcycle accident I had in 2000. On October 13th, to be exact. A lady turned left in front of me, and I hit the side of a Toyota at 45 mph. $25K later, this thumb is what I’m left with. you could say I’m handicapped, intend the pun, and not be offensive at all.

I deal with pain from it on a daily basis, although not too intense. I have about 90% use and mobility, and really that’s pretty good. It could have been much, much worse. I could have been doomed to perpetually haunt someone with my stories. Instead, I get to write them myself.

My hand does get more painful around certain times of year. Changing temperatures and humidity have a profound effect on the amount of pain I experience. Which happens right around the end of October, first part of November here in Idaho, where I live. This year, I got a new keyboard and mouse, more ergonomic. They help, but the pain is still there.

“Do it this year. If you don’t, you’ll be one year older when you do.”

-Warren Miller

Instead of letting it slow me down, I push through. I use it as a reminder: we are never SAM_3770guaranteed tomorrow. And everyone has obstacles that try to prevent them from doing what they love.

I’m an author. It took me a long time to get here. I had bumps along the way, the above motorcycle accident and my own fear only two of them. So I won’t ever go back. If I found I had six months to live, I would do one thing, no questions asked. I’d write. Until I couldn’t any more. So whether you are a fellow author, and November is your month to develop that writing habit, and set yourself on a new course, or you have another passion, don’t quit. Follow your dream.

As Warren Miller, the great ski film maker says, “Do it this year. If you don’t, you’ll just be one year older when you do.”

Happy writing. Or whatever you choose to do.

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NaNoWriMo: Time Management

“Diligence is the mother of good fortune, and idleness, its opposite, never brought a man to the goal of any of his best wishes.”

— Miguel de Cervantes

I sit here, at 4:47 a.m. knowing what can happen today, and what might happen, but not what will happen.

Oh, I have a plan. I always have a plan. Sometimes it is a good one, sometimes it isn’t, but it exists.

It all comes down to time management, something I vary between being good at, and totally sucking at. If you are super organized, never get distracted, and have no idea what I’m talking about, you don’t even need to read on. Besides, the rest of us hate you anyway.

self discipline

Discipline. Time management is about discipline. Making yourself do things, even if they are not what you want to be doing right at this minute. It is tough, and it sucks, because even when you work at home you have your favorite parts of your job and the things you wish you could put off until shortly after your death. Trust me, if you think any profession is exempt, you are sorely mistaken. If you like everything about your job, and can’t relate to this, see the above.

donotdisturb

Eliminating Distraction. This is a control what you can control moment. Shut the door. Turn off the wi-fi. Threaten the children with death following slow torture. Threaten your spouse with withheld … well, whatever it is they usually want from you: sex, money, cooking, doing their laundry, sex (did I already say that?).

 


multitaskingDeal with interruption.
No matter how good you are, or how well you plan, distraction will inevitably come, multiple times a day. If you are the kind of person that has no distractions, ever, during your writing time, also see the above. Most of us have cats, dogs, kids, spouses, phones, and bladders. You can shut these out to an extent, but when the dog pukes in your shoes, or you have to vacate your bowls or empty the coffee you drank all morning you will need to get up from time to time. Unless you wear adult diapers and are not averse to dealing with rashes or dog puked in shoes.

Learn to open “browser windows” in your brain, and leave them open while you piss, let the dog in and out, strangle children (plot material), or cook dinner. You need to be able to go back to what you were doing after the interruption and pick up right where you left off.

Reward yourself. Keep your schedule for a week, and then take some time off, even an hour. Treat yourself to a latte or a giant cookie dough ice cream shake from Arctic Circle (if you are into that kind of thing). A bottle glass of wine or scotch or whatever you fancy, just give yourself something for all of your hard work.

Now get back too it. You’ve wasted enough time reading this blog. Write on! I will be right back after I spend some time in the throne room getting rid of some coffee, last night’s pumpkin cake, and some egg nog.

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