As I’ve mentioned before, one joy of being self-employed is setting my own schedule and the opportunity to NOT schedule any clients during the 5th week of any month.
July 26-31 offered one of these glorious goldmines — and I agreed to drive my sister and her daughter to California on that power road trip I wrote about. I have no regrets! In early September, I shared the experience of my 6-day Self-directed Writer’s Retreat. Visions of complete manuscripts danced through my head!
Last week, October 25 – Nov 1, offered another opportunity for my 5th-week retreat – 7 days – to focus on writing.
After completing my 101 Things in 1095 Days list, and because I will be presenting workshops to nonprofit professionals next week and in early January, I decided to focus on my business book during this week to allow workshop participants to sign-up for pre-order updates.
I’m what many would call a ‘Pantser’ not only in writing but in life. I appreciate creating to-do lists to help me see what is on my plate, but I do not function well with scheduling and planning when I will do what. I am a tangential thinker and doer. I complete my house chores, work in my garden, write, read, and even carry on text conversations this way. I OWN that I enjoy spontaneity and intuitive processes more than scheduling and outlining.
That said, I began the week determined to stay focused without stressing out. I wanted to write and relax (and celebrate my birthday).
The first day, I fiddled with some catch-up paperwork (FASFA and medical insurance), wondering if I’d piddle away the week as I felt I did the last retreat. I’ve been developing and gathering content for the book for several years, with chapter outlines and sample stories – but nothing was clicking for me. During my bike ride, I finally landed on the framework for the entire book which enabled me to decide my tone and became an impetus to sit and write this week.
While I can’t claim to have zoned in for more than about 3 hours at one time, I developed a comfortable pattern of engaging in key lifestyle elements to support my progress:
As the weather has begun to cool and cloud-up, I’ve introduced the practice of finding a work-venue destination a good walk or bike ride from my home. One day I rode 6 miles, spent 4 hours at my computer, met up with a friend for the last hour to visit, and rode 6 miles home. Another, I walked 2.2 miles, wrote for 3 hours, and walked 2.2 miles home. The featured image for this blog post is a cozy room at Chicago’s Navy Pier – one of my work-venue destinations about 7 miles from my home.
I spent a few hours early in the week chopping veggies to be used for fresh lentil soup, noodles, skillets, tacos – and other favorites of mine throughout the week. These kept me well nourished — a balance for the chocolate cake and pies I enjoyed while celebrating my birthday.
I didn’t want to totally neglect my blogging efforts to offer three blogs a week – one for each category – In the Kitchen, Book Reviews, and Midlife Musings. The shift in writing style and content can be jarring when I’m in one zone, so I allowed myself some flexibility in timing. I pulled off posts on Oct 24 (What Difference Did I Make?) Oct 25 (Book Review) and two on Oct 30 (Book Review and Pushing My Comfort Zone).
Reading & Reviewing
I also read and reviewed two works from fellow writers I interact with on Twitter and Facebook. While I totally enjoyed reading and reviewing Positive Aging by Kathy at Smart Living 365 and offering a beta-read to Pat Doyle for her WIP, I was not too excited about the books I read this week. I realized that I should be more careful in the offer to read longer works of individuals whose shorter work (blog posts, articles) I have not yet read.
Improving My Craft
I also took advantage of a 24-hour open period to consider the Writers’ Resources and Master Class of a Jerry Jenkins, prolific novelist and writing coach that I follow. While the resources tend to concentrate on fiction more than nonfiction, I found tidbits of wisdom even for my current nonfiction manuscript – and absolutely plenty of tips for when I return to my novel manuscript.
I’d hoped to return to my jigsaw puzzles this week, but find I am still percolating how to best protect the six puzzles I want to complete in the next 1095 days, from my son’s kitten.
On Halloween, I enjoyed a lovely dinner with my husband and one son currently living at home before a surprise viewing of Hamilton. Creative genius!
While I did no writing on October 30, and my number of focused hours varied from day-to-day, I am proud of the progress I made.
I’m happy to say that with a total target word count of about 25,000 words, my first draft currently sits at
I believe I am on track to launch this nonprofit business book by mid-December. If you know anyone who works or is interested in the nonprofit arena (particularly around fundraising) – who might want to be a beta-reader, please let me know or send them my way.
Stay tuned for further progress on my manuscript….