30-Day Writer's Boot Camp, Writing

Day 5: Always Ready

Rachel talks about finding moments in the day to write, even if it’s one sentence, a character’s name, or the first item on a list. After all, this is Writer’s Boot Camp, so writing should always be at the center of attention. And it has been lately, but I didn’t think about keeping a notebook with me to write down my thoughts whenever they struck me. So silly to not think of this when I teach high school English where fodder is everywhere. I am to keep pen and paper with me at all times. Check.

Assignment: Detox

She asks a few questions about my life:

  • Are there a lot of annoying things happening in your life?
  • Are you frustrated about the writing process or something else?

Now I am supposed to write about it.

I am frustrated that I feel as if I come up with some good ideas for writing, but I can’t seem to get it detailed on paper or computer. On Tuesday, we got out of school a little early so I went home and I wrote for two hours. Seems awesome. It was, but I started three pieces of writing because I got to a point in each where I hit a wall and I wasn’t sure where to take the story. It was great to get the ideas out of my head and on to the computer screen, but it was beyond frustrating to see that I struggled to develop all three. I also looked at a piece I did two years ago for the start of this camp (I didn’t cry when she died) and tried to add to that one with little success.

How can I be a writer when the ideas don’t flow? How do I practice writing when I can’t seem to develop ideas? It is one thing to hit this problem sometimes, but I feel as if I hit it every time I start writing. Right now, I have no problem completing this assignment. It seems I have plenty to say on the topic of writer’s block. But how can I be a writer when I struggle to add detail to anything I write?

How’s it going for you? Do you feel as if you struggle with writer’s block all the time?

30-Day Writer's Boot Camp

Day 4: Getting Your Bearings

What Are My Writing Habits?

This is a little laughable as I don’t have any good writing habits right now. As it sits, I just write when the mood strikes me, which is usually around midnight on a Friday or Saturday night when I should be going to bed but the complexity of the week has caused me to want to burn some creative energy. It’s always such a bad idea because I can never write for very long; I’m just too tired to keep the flow going. Anyone else have the same problem?

Realistic Times and Places to Write

Rachel asks a few questions about things I prefer when writing when it comes to when, where, and how I do it.

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When I’m at home, I need it quiet, so writing early in the morning or really late at night works best for me. However, I also really love coffee shops, and I have no problem hunkering down at a table with my computer and a soy chai tea latte while going to town on my work. The noise and bustle doesn’t bother me since I thrive in that atmosphere. I’ll basically use home during the week and coffee shops on the weekends.

I prefer writing by computer unless I’m journaling, which is so personal that it requires my favorite notebook and a pen that I love. I’m a little bit of a nerd, too, because I love to hear keys click on my computer.

As far as planning out my writing, I’ve never planned my fiction writing although I know that I really need to. I don’t work well without a plan and struggle to finish pieces I begin because I go into them without an idea of how to finish or move a piece forward.

I’m excited to be starting this. This is forcing me to think about what I need to be successful in writing. Giving myself time and permission to say no to some other things feels pretty good. What things are you finally saying no to?

Until tomorrow!


30-Day Writer's Boot Camp, Writing

Day 3: Writer’s Boot Camp

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To Be Honest

I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do for day 3 of boot camp. Yesterday at school we had a lock out and had to evacuate the building. I won’t go into more detail than that. However, we were not able to return to the building and I left my writer’s boot camp book at school. That’s definitely something I could add to one of pieces! I’m sure I’ll add to this post at some point later today, but here is what I did accomplish yesterday.

  • I wrote for 2 hours out of pleasure. (We got out of school a little early, so I had extra time.)
  • I started several pieces that were just sitting in my head.
  • I was able to post my goals to this blog.
  • I realized that my old problem still rings true that I struggle writing without a plan.

Today, I woke up at 4:30 to write this and add to one of those pieces I started yesterday. I’d say that’s a pretty good start since two years ago I was already off track at this point.

Scheduling Time to Write

Now that I’m at school, I can see that I need to find time this week to write, and I need to keep track of that time. I must say, I’ve been really excited about this project. More so than last time. It’s been a long time since I’ve given myself permission to do something like this, and it will be a good experience for my students to see me go through the process with them.

In the section, Rachel writes about getting up an hour earlier each morning. Usually, I can do that, but neither this week nor the beginning of next as I have to be to work at 5 on some of those days. So here is the schedule from now until Day 6.

Wednesday Day 3: 4:30 am

Thursday Day 4: 5-6 pm (I’m hoping for 5-7, though)

Friday Day 5: 4:30 am

Saturday Day 6: 12-2

Still Looking for the WIP

I’m still struggling with the Work in Progress. I really don’t know what I want to do. So far I have three pieces that I’ve started working on. Nothing major and definitely very little written on them so far. They were just ideas floating around that needed to be placed on paper before I could tell if they were worthwhile projects. I find myself having an easier time with non-fiction than fiction these days. Several years ago, it was the other way around. But I am still having fun going back to my roots.

Stay tuned in for Day 4!


30-Day Writer's Boot Camp

Day 2: Setting Real-Life Goals

Today, I’m supposed to immerse myself in writing for an hour and think about some questions that I need to address for writing. Before I do that, I want to mention that last time I tried this, I really wanted to stick with 30 straight days of writing and failed to do so. This time, I’m going to get through the Boot Camp, but I’m not going to beat myself up like I did last time if I don’t complete 30 days consecutively. Writing is important to me, and I’ve let my career get in the way of writing for myself. So, I’m going to make this work for me.

Setting Real-Life Goals

Rachel Federman has several questions that need to be addressed on this day after spending some time writing:

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  • Did this help you solidify your writing goals?
  • Do you already know what they are?
  • Do you want to make a career out of writing?
  • What about your short-term goals?
  • What do you hope to finish in the next few months?
  • Are you writing just for fun?

I’ve realized that my goals are pretty much the same as they have been for the last few years, and they haven’t changed because I’ve allowed myself to remain frozen in place with fear of judgment and full of doubt in my abilities. I know that I want to be published some day. Wanting to write young adult literature has always been a goal of mine because I teach high school English. A new goal is to create a non-fiction piece on health and wellness, some kind of book for women to feel good about themselves. I’d also love to have a couple of successful blogs, one for teaching and one for health and wellness.

My Goal: to write for 30 minutes each day

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I’d really like to devote more time than this, but I’m going to be realistic in my expectations. It’s the school year, and I also do personal training on the side. Saying that I’m going to write for an hour each day isn’t aways realistic when some days this week and next will go from 4:15 in the morning until 6:30 in the evening before I can even head home. This is not usually the case, but I would already be off track this week and next if I made writing for an hour my goal. For now, 30 minutes a day will work well, and if I’m able to write more, I will.

I’m also supposed to come up with a writing project. I will say that I haven’t figured that out yet. Two years ago, I had this idea for a YA book, but I’m just not feeling it right now. One idea I’ve been kicking around is to create a different YA book. My students are devouring this series called After, so I read the first one to see if I should include it in my classroom library, but I just can’t do it. The main characters in the book have an extremely toxic relationship, and I just can’t support that in my classroom. It’s actually strange. I have Koontz and King in my library (two kings of horror), but there is something about this series that just concerns me that my young, impressionable girls will hope that their relationship is just as passionate as the one in the series even though it’s dangerously toxic. At least with the other novels, the bad parts are done by evil people. This series blurs the lines too much for me. You really want to like the characters so it makes it too easy to forgive the young couple for their treatment of each other. To each his own, however. You’ll have to read it and decide for yourself. The reason I bring it up is because I thought of writing a YA novel that has a different effect, where the heroine doesn’t fall for the bad guy of the group.

Another possibility is writing a non-fiction self-help book. I’m thinking along the lines of Rachel Hollis or Jen Sincero. I wouldn’t expect to be as big as they are, but I feel that I could do something along those lines.

The third is just to write a cute love story. I have no idea what I would do or what my plot would be, but I think it would be fun and a little freeing to do something like this since I’ve been living in the land of non-fiction for a while.

The last option would be to expand my liveandthrive365 blog. I haven’t gotten it going yet. I bought the domain when I got back into personal training. I knew at one point I would like to get my personal training business going in some way, but I haven’t really been in a hurry since it is more of a side gig right now. It’s too hard to focus on starting a new business during the school year, but getting the blog up and running might be a lot of fun.

I’m sorry Rachel, I don’t have a project picked out just yet, but I’ll get there.

30-Day Writer's Boot Camp

Writer’s Boot Camp: Day 1… Again

Day 1: Writer’s Boot Camp

It’s been two years since I tried my first Writer’s Boot Camp. I originally worked on it for a Genius Hour Project with my students. I didn’t make it all the way through. It was the end of the school year. I can use that as the excuse, but the truth is that I just didn’t make it a priority like I should have since I told myself, and my students, that I was beginning a 30-day boot camp for writing. 

Genius Hour Project

I’m going to do it this time. Again, as my Genius Hour Project with my students. They are a month into their projects, and I’m just now starting mine. I wasn’t going to do a project this year, but I should do what I ask my students to do. The point of Genius Hour is the provide curriculum that they enjoy. To give them a chance to plan out a long-term project of their choosing, be the teacher, and learn all about procrastination along the way. While doing it, they sometimes find out that what they thought they would absolutely love is something they really hate. I’ve dealt with this myself. I love the idea of being a runner. The wind in my hair, the huffing of my breath as I battle that steep climb, the exhilaration and sense of accomplishment when I complete a long run. But the simple fact is that I only love the idea of being a runner. Running itself? I despise it. Hey. You never know until you know, right?

I’m using Rachel Federman’s first Writer’s Boot Camp book. She has since published a second one (which I own), but I decided it would be best for me to complete the first book for my Genius Hour Project this semester and move into the second book shortly after. If all goes according to plan, I’ll actually be in the second book after 30 days. I’m also using Complete the Story, A Writer’s Book of DaysThe Nighttime Novelist, and The Artist’s Way. Last time I got off track by day 3, but I did get back on track shortly thereafter. I’ve decided that will be my goal. While I will work on the 30 days, I’m not going to beat myself up if I get off a day. I’ll just get back on track and continue on. But I WILL complete my 30 days-no matter what. 

Day 1: My Dream Writing Life

This will sound similar to my last stint with this because my wishes haven’t changed much. 

I’ve always wanted to work from anywhere I wanted. This probably stems from the fact that I’m a teacher, and I have summers and holidays off. I know what it’s like to have a chunk of time spent at home, and I absolutely love it. What I don’t love is the lack of schedule. If I had a job to work on during the summer… like writing a novel for a publishing company… I might have a different view. 

Getting back to my Dream Writing Life…. My dream writing life is to work from anywhere. When I picture this, I’m always at a cafe of some kind. Starbucks is my go-to right now. (I do live an hour north of Seattle, the birthplace of Starbucks, so I’m a little biased.) I’m outside enjoying the sweet air and the warm summer sun while contemplating my next words carefully. Contemplating because I want my writing to sound just right, not because I have a lack of ideas. This is a big thing. Currently, I always have the desire to write, but when I begin, I find that I stuggle with the ability to get my ideas out in detail. 

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In my dream writing life, I have two successful blogs which bring in money. I have authored two best-selling young adult literature books with a third on the way to complete the trilogy. My self-help book for women was also a New York Times Best Seller. I’m not bogged down with writer’s block all the time nor do I fear what others might think about my writing. 

So, there you have it! Day 1 of the Writer’s Boot Camp is in the books! Err… on the blog? 

Thanks for reading!

30-Day Writer's Boot Camp, Writing

Writer’s Check-In

Hey, Fellow Writers!

I’m just checking in because I haven’t posted in a while. I should be getting some posts on here soon, but I really haven’t had much that I can actually publish to this website. If you’re new to the site, you know that I am using it as part of a Genius Hour Project for my English students. That also means that there are things that I’ve written that I will not be able to publish here.

So what have I been up to?

Sorry I haven’t posted lately, Rachel. I have been writing. I’ve been working on Julia Cameron’s morning pages, which have been really hard to do. She states that I should start every morning with three pages of free writing to get all of my writer-blocking thoughts out of my head in order to free up thoughts for writing. It has been darn hard to get three pages without feeling as if I’m repeating myself repeatedly (haha!). Maybe when school starts up again in a couple weeks it will be a different story. For now, they are darn hard. I’ve also been working on writing a piece. It is not, however, my WIP. This one has been much more personal, and I’m unable to publish it because… well… it’s personal. And I’m not into publishing my memoirs for the world (and my students) to see.

30-Day Writer's Boot Camp, Writing

Day 8: The Daily Slog

I haven’t made much progress in my writing over the last few days. I’m supposed to be  working on writing for at least 30 minutes each day, either towards my Work in Progress or freewriting. Truthfully, I’m scared. Sitting in front of the computer Sunday night staring at the old notes I had taken over my WIP, it suddenly hit me as to why I had never started this project. I have no clue where to take it. This really cool over-arching premise about good and bad vampires is present. I have a set of human twins who can turn the tide. The vampires have this ancient grudge and have been fighting for years. And… that’s it. All of these questions just begin to bombard me and I don’t know the answers.

Why are they fighting?

How can I keep it from sounding religious?

Is it just going to sound like another Twilight or Vampire Diaries?

What is the purpose of the twins?

How do I add components in without sounding too much like all the paranormal/fantasy stuff that’s out there already?

What is the main freaking point?!

Where in the heck do I take these ideas?

I guess I need to figure out what’s missing so I can move forward. Let’s problem solve. Looking over my notes, there is no conflict–just a war that’s old. Obviously, backstory has to be created. I wrote mini-biographies of the four main characters, but I already know that some of this simply won’t work because I’m thinking of making the setting on a different Earth. Originally, it was supposed to be a kind of Underworld that most humans knew nothing about, but then I run into a religious aspect that I want to stay away from entirely. This means that I have to create a new Earth and a new society that has completely different beliefs about life and death than this one. Or I could keep this Earth and still create a society with different rules that humans know nothing about. Or I could create a futuristic Earth. Aaarrgghh! So many decisions!

Right now, I feel like one of my students. At this point in the writing, I would ask the student a bunch of questions that might get them moving in a one direction. Then I would offer them possible scenarios. Rarely do they choose one of mine, but it inevitably leads them to an idea of their own. Since I can’t make a copy of myself, I’m going to publish this and spend the next 30 minutes or so creating a backstory for the war. If I get nowhere with this, I may just have to scrap this idea and try another WIP until something else comes to me.