A Sunday afternoon writer’s retreat…the payoff.

typewriter-1373693_1280Following up on the retreat…

The benefits:

  1. The pep talk on paper actually occurred later that evening. I had plenty of post-retreat topics to cover.
  2. As my previous post showed, I learned plenty. I discovered some new, interesting folks who post good content.
  3. I have a new project.
  4. By itself, the preparation for the retreat sent me digging for trusty resources, such as If You Can Talk, You Can Write by Joel Saltzman.
  5. It gave me further focus for the rest of the week.
  6. I’m already pre-prepared for my next retreat.

From the department of ‘I just wish I…”

  1. generated more words. I only cranked out about 1000 words. I was hoping for twice that.
  2. got outside more on a pretty Sunday afternoon.
  3. had done a little more reading from my list

A Sunday afternoon writer’s retreat-Revelations and learnings…up to 10 items.

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I’ve started my retreat and I just realized…with the power of an Internet-connected laptop, these speakers and experts can follow me all around the house. I can even do some cooking and not miss a beat.

From Jenna Moreci, I’ve learned:

1. the benefits of writing your characters’ dialogue straight through. Just write the spoken word. Don’t bother with tags or action or imagery. The exchanges will be more natural. You can fill in with the other stuff later.

2. the proliferation of online passive voice checkers

3. a YouTube teacher/speaker’s use of an ‘F-bomb’ feels tacky and lazy. Repeated use of it just feels forced. She has tons of good ideas and information. I’m guessing this whole F-bomb issue is generational.

More as the afternoon progresses…

4. Love that I can rewind video…multiple times when some point doesn’t ‘connect’.

5. With online instruction, I’m afforded [I need my passive voice checker, don’t I?] the ability to slice and dice, clang pots and pans, and curse my clumsiness as I spill wine that I’m glugging into the ribollitawithout the speaker glaring at me and questioning my social graces, not to mention my kitchen skills.

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6. Scrivener is an ideal organizing and editing tool for my 50 Stepping Stones draft on my first year of retirement.

7. I could set aside whole afternoon retreats targeting just Joanna Penn videos and website content. Ditto Austin Kleon and Steven Pressfield.

8. Thanks to Joanna’s podcast will soon be buying Tim Grahl’s Running Down a Dream.

9. Most first novels are barely readable, so lighten up and finish it. [Joanna Penn, with my paraphrasing]

10. Sarra Cannon–For those who want to sell what they’ve published, release your work within a single series. [One of her videos auto-played at the the end of the Joanna Penn conversation with Tim Grahl.]


I’m down to 4% on my laptop and I’m using that to get my in gear to finish this post…

So, the more detailed plan for today…

1. Pep Talk on Paper [just a quick riff to get me going]

2. Inspiration from books:

Will try to include excerpts

3. YouTube/SkillShare/Podcasts

Productivity Sessions: [At least 10 minutes apiece; probably 15—interspersed between short inspiration and online skill development/refresher sessions]

  • Retire/Renew Blog Posts
  • ESL Course Module
  • New project: My take on the NFL Network’s RedZone, only I do lightning fast updates on six different kids in a fictional classroom.
  • Teachers Pay Teachers Project: Find graphics/images that pertain to my project
  • At least two segments on my other children’s writing project

Coffee and chocolate cake somewhere in the middle

**

Gee what are the odds the results will look entirely different from the carefully crafted plan above?

The earlier post—

Yep, get the cooking and other distractions out of the way.

Free up the afternoon

In preparation:

  1. create a playlist of YouTube/SkillShare videos to boost my confidence and expertise
  2. set writing goals–# of words, # of posts, # of minutes actually writing/editing
  3. tools for first draft work [camera, audio recorder]
  4. coffee and home-baked goods nearby

Other necessities:

  • A readiness to change locations if it’s called for. [Move to a coffee shop, a city park, the backyard]
  • Phones are off/airplane mode
  • A timer to maintain focus

Let’s see how it goes.

A Sunday afternoon writer’s retreat–Here’s the more detailed plan…

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I’m down to 4% on my laptop and I’m using that to get my in gear to finish this post…

So, the more detailed plan for today…

1. Pep Talk on Paper [just a quick riff to get me going]

2. Inspiration from books:

Will try to include excerpts

3. YouTube/SkillShare/Podcasts

Productivity Sessions: [At least 10 minutes apiece; probably 15—interspersed between short inspiration and online skill development/refresher sessions]

  • Retire/Renew Blog Posts
  • ESL Course Module
  • New project: My take on the NFL Network’s RedZone, only I do lightning fast updates on six different kids in a fictional classroom.
  • Teachers Pay Teachers Project: Find graphics/images that pertain to my project
  • At least two segments on my other children’s writing project

Coffee and chocolate cake somewhere in the middle

**

Gee what are the odds the results will look entirely different from the carefully crafted plan above?

The earlier post—

Yep, get the cooking and other distractions out of the way.

Free up the afternoon

In preparation:

  1. create a playlist of YouTube/SkillShare videos to boost my confidence and expertise
  2. set writing goals–# of words, # of posts, # of minutes actually writing/editing
  3. tools for first draft work [camera, audio recorder]
  4. coffee and home-baked goods nearby

Other necessities:

  • A readiness to change locations if it’s called for. [Move to a coffee shop, a city park, the backyard]
  • Phones are off/airplane mode
  • A timer to maintain focus

Let’s see how it goes.

Here’s the plan. A Sunday afternoon writer’s retreat…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Yep, get the cooking and other distractions out of the way.

Free up the afternoon

In preparation:

  1. create a playlist of YouTube/SkillShare videos to boost my confidence and expertise
  2. set writing goals–# of words, # of posts, # of minutes actually writing/editing
  3. tools for first draft work [camera, audio recorder]
  4. coffee and home-baked goods nearby

Other necessities:

  • A readiness to change locations if it’s called for. [Move to a coffee shop, a city park, the backyard]
  • Phones are off/airplane mode
  • A timer to maintain focus

Let’s see how it goes.

500-Word Challenge: Day 29–Letter to Ideal ‘Make Side Hustling Stick’ Customer

Readers: I just wanted to document my 29th of 31 days of the 500 Word Challenge. [685 words]

juggling

Greetings ideal customer

Welcome to:

Make Side Hustling Stick

Strategies to Learn–Really Learn!–the Best of ‘Side Hustle: From Idea to Income in 27 Days’

We will explore the book Side Hustle: From Idea to Income in 27 Days,  written by Chris Guillebeau.

Here are a checklist of what will best serve you during this course.

A willingness to revisit what fuels your enthusiasm to take this course. Maybe it’s as simple as your desire to create a side hustle, an extra income source that can be both fun and profitable. You’ll no doubt be learning from the master, who has also written The $100 Startup and Born For This and The Happiness of Pursuit and The Art of Non-Conformity.

Maybe you want to rise above the negative experiences from your previous years in school. You might want to convince yourself that you’re learning a lifelong learner and you want to put it to use for good.

And then there’s the desire to reinvent yourself–perhaps that has emerged lately.

You might want to be doing something for yourself–take on a project that challenges you and you alone.

You might also be thinking that the side hustle component of the course will help others. Bravo.

How about good ol’ self-improvement?

Or the need to address the question, ‘If not now, when?’. You know, that voice that whispers that your time on this earth is finite.

[By the way, just listing these possible reasons is a helpful reassessment exercise for me.]

Believe me, these are all valid reasons. Just latch on to the ones the keep you moving forward in this course.

Okay, more on your supply list.

— Imagination. The ability to visualize. No, not necessarily the ‘woo-woo’ level of visualization, but at least enough to see yourself taking forward steps, no matter how large or small. The key is forward.

— Still on the imagination thread, be open to talking to yourself on paper. after all, if you want to learn you need to talk it through.

— A pioneering spirit, a readiness to try out new ideas, new strategies.

— Enough of a trust in me and this course that you will benefit not just from covering the content of the book, but from the ‘make it stick’ strategies that you can rely on for later non-fiction and how-to books.

— A smartphone would be really helpful for its camera and its connectivity. Trust me on this.

— An ability to reframe the act of reading as you know it now. There will be times you will be writing [don’t worry, the only real audience during this course is you. I’ll put my red pens away, honest!]. Other times, I’ll invite/encourage you to sketch and make diagrams to help you flesh out your learning.

— A sketching tablet or digital version of a tablet.

— A decision to see yourself as ‘the boss’ of your book. That means, if you run into chapters that are not serving you, skip them. Give them enough of a glance to remember their basic message. Beyond that, move on. Not every chapter keeps every reader riveted and on-target. Realize that you are actually ‘hiring’ this book [and this course] to provide you with lasting benefits.

— The same goes for this course: If you encounter a module that doesn’t serve you, skip it, but even better, drop me a quick note telling me why that is the case. Let’s just assume that if you’re not being served, then that’s probably true of others.

— A readiness to thrash the book with dog ears and sticky notes and bright yellow highlights–whatever you think will be most valuable for you.

— An openness to sharing at least one success or suggestion during the course, though I’m hoping you’ll be more involved than that.

— So, I hope this list hasn’t scared you away. Of course, it might feel like a heavy investment, but it’s an investment in yourself, and I’m willing to bet that if you can even muster half of these list items, you will be making marked progress in both side hustling and in developing your own personalized learning strategies.

Let’s get going. I’m looking forward to the adventure.

 

Today’s theme: Disappointment

 

thumbs down disappointment

I’m disappointed that I haven’t yet finished the 500-Word Challenge because I promised myself a nice little reward once I post on January 31. Previous tolerant [Sympathetic? Long-suffering? Now homicidal?] readers of some of my –happy place alert!–Pulitzer-winning posts will probably guess what the reward is–something techy.

Looking through the newspaper, I am disappointed that no one has offered me a gold toilet. Then again I’d probably use it as a planter box–planter bowl, actually.

I’m disappointed that I was not invited to play in the NBA All-Star Game.

Then again I would probably stop play and start haranguing about too many fouls allowed, too many timeouts, too much showboating, too much ‘look at me’, too many mad-dog staredowns, too much chest-pounding… well there you go, you get the picture. In front of all those adoring fans occasionally looking up from their phones, it would not be pretty.

I’m disappointed that Canada has not let me into its psychic airspace. Let me explain: Sometimes, things here in the US get a little hinky. I’m thinking those same annoying items will at least be relegated to page 2 in Canada. [A Canadian friend has shot down that scenario, but I’m keeping the dream alive.]

I picture myself camped out in any one of the many Victoria, B.C. shops where they take their coffee and baked goods seriously and those nice, nice people are too polite to suggest that my sleeping bag and tent are infringing on the comfort of other patrons.

See? That psychic teleportation thing is working already…

Anyway, I applied at the psychic border crossing and was refused. They said something about their being overrun with similar requests. I even asked if someone could psychically sponsor me and, with downcast eyes, a shake of the head, and an index finger on speed-dial, they apologized that they can’t even issue day-passes.

I’m disappointed that I don’t have a DVR that permanently vaporizes mention of murderous heads of state,  as well as listings of specific TV shows, celebrities, non-celebrities, and media hacks.

I’m disappointed that there isn’t a truly ‘smart’ TV that rubs out all bottom-of-screen crawls spewing repeatedly ‘breaking news’ and spring training baseball scores [all preseason game results, actually]. Yes, yes, I know, most TVs allow you to zoom and thus block out the crawls, but that ain’t the same. I want a TV that essentially gives me control of the networks. [Yep, drifting into Dr. Evil territory. My apologies to non-viewers of Austin Powers–Not a fanboy, but the character seemed to fit.]

While we’re on the topic of Austins…

I’m disappointed that I’m not as productive as Austin Kleon, though every time I open one of his books [My favorite is Show Your Work], I’m hit with a surge of inspiration.

I’m disappointed there isn’t more January sun where I live–to the point that I actually watch golf on TV just so I can see non-gray skies and that big bright thing that helps make the skies non-gray.

I’m disappointed that I cheated a bit on this post–I used Google Docs voice typing for the first 100 words.

Plea for understanding: My hands were full [i.e. balancing coffee and raisin toast from The Bread Board in Falls City, OR–yes, yes, shameless promotion. Only benefit? A few extra words toward challenge-completion…talk about shameless.

On the upside, I’ve reacged 500 words and have risen above my  disappointment to keep the auto-keyboarded words anyway.

Such courage and fortitude in the face of potential virulent backlash.

Keep livin’ the dream…

Posting without serious editing…

Not a pretty thing.

editing mistakes

Throughout this January 500-Word Challengee’re we’ve been encouraged to publish without minndful editing, which I think is just fine because, in my eyes, the goals are to rise above fear and resistance and, in the process, build our ‘blogging muscles’.

However, at 1:00 on Thursday morning, I knew when I scheduled the post, it would be a regrettable result.

So, thank you to the folks who did dare to read my first draft intro pages for my Eclectic’s Journal. [Here’s a sanity tip: Along the lines of ‘don’t look directly at the sun’, ditto with an unedited post from me.]

For those more attentive to their posts than I’ve been, Sue Anne Dunlevie offers these five steps to take before you publish.


Update on my 31-day, 500-Word Challenge.

 

Procrastination takes over…

dog as life coach mailing label

dog lives for the day mailing labels

Seems I’m getting a little text-fatigued lately.

At least that’s my piddly excuse for engaging in a short detour into the world of semi-useful graphics.

I figured creating these mailing labels for a colleague’s upcoming birthday was just the ticket. Jon Acuff, in his book Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done, which, no, I still haven’t finished, would label this little departure from more important projects, a ‘noble objective’.

[It just hit me…this post isn’t exactly a solid endorsement for his book, is it?]

Then again, it may just be a plaintive cry for help from someone who just can’t [or doesn’t want to] stay focused, because this book really is the real deal. It’s like he knows me. [I take that back. If he really knew me, he’d probably shake his head and see me as a lost cause.] Whatever the case, I like the book and I am learning, if not immediately applying, a lot.

 

 

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Writers Horoscope January 12: Finally, something in your wheelhouse…

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For today’s 500-word challenge, I’ve been asked to teach something to my thousands [okay, millions] of readers.
Let’s go with procrastination. [Note: I did only a light edit, which is, of course, completely counter to what we polished procrastinators usually do—pore and writhe in agony over word choice, missing commas [most readers wouldn’t notice, but by God, you will…]
First off, start your day with email. You would be surprised how fluent and outright wordy and, even insightful, you become with your emails when you have some more pressing creative pursuit knocking on your conscious or your subconscious. You start noticing quirks in your respondents’ writing style and yucking it up over them. You even suggest some possible fixes, almost as if you know what you’re talking about. Of course, knowing what you’re talking about is secondary to creating the aura of intelligence, experience, and wisdom. The main thing is this: You HAVE to avoid the other work that is calling out for your attention. No matter that you have built your points and premises on a firm foundation of ignorance. Just keep writing.

Okay, so your hands are about to fall off from your feverish keyboarding.

Take a break. Make sure it involves removing yourself from any temptation to listen to your nearly bound and gagged muse. I would suggest cleaning the garage. But tread lightly, bucko, because you might run across boxes of notebooks filled with half-spun tales, expertly written, that might make you think you actually have the talent to get something published. ‘Half-spun’ is the operative term here, by the way. You would risk being engulfed by guilt over never finishing anything and let’s face it, do you really want to risk all that time and energy on a project that probably won’t dig its way out of a slush pile, digital or otherwise?

So, still in the garage, I would say that grabbing a broom and clearing away cobwebs from the rafters would pretty much remove you from the dangers of the ‘creative life’.

Okay, thank god the garage is web-free [mostly]. It’s time for coffee. Now where is that Bialetti pseudo-espresso maker you hadn’t thought about until just now? It’s gotta be underneath the cast-iron skillet which, hey, you could really go for some biscuits to accompany that coffee. Yeah, yeah, yeah, you could probably just throw those biscuits together in nothing flat, but Wednesday’s food section writer [what a hack—someone who actually finishes and publishes] spouted about the appeal of sourdough biscuits and now seems about the right time to throw together a little starter. Quite an appropriate term—starter. No one ever asks, though, if there is such a thing as sourdough finisher.

Well, that little detour did nothing to satisfy the need for an accompaniment to your coffee, now did it?

And geez, that one way-up-high cobweb is still haunting you. Okay, this is simple. You’re going to defrost some of that four-month-old vanilla brandied bundt cake while you venture back to the garage and pull out the ladder to vanquish that ever-threatening cobweb.

Yep, you have everything under control. A cleaner garage, some fresh coffee a brewin’, updated correspondence, and a room temperature piece of cake.
Life is good.
And the caffeine will no doubt fire you up for round two of the day’s creative effort.
But, wait, wasn’t that your phone’s notification chime?

Writers Horoscope January 11: You’re wilting under self-imposed pressures…

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Since when did your writing become so onerous?

This writer takes a step back and gets a grip.

Quote: “There was neither the time, nor the energy, to think much about writing.
And I’m fine with it.”

“You Need To Practice Being Your Future Self,” demands Fox Business.
Future self? Oh, enough already. We need more articles about how to scale down and pace ourselves more calmly today, because life is a marathon instead of a sprint.”

So, writers, even though there’s been plenty of talk about goals here, perhaps the ultimate goal is deceleration. [I just love it when I contradict myself.]


The latest from January’s 500-word challenge:

An imagined interview with author of ‘Finish’, Jon Acuff