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. 

computer desk with light background

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

Freewriting Cheat Sheet

Day 7: Creating a Freewriting Cheat Sheet

Before I begin, I have to be honest and say that I began writing this post over a week ago. The end of the school year was rough with lots of grading to finish and family visiting the same week. Yesterday, all family left and school work and classroom cleaning completed. So here I am, jumping right back on the writing train.

After a short break, I’m heading into week 2 of the Writer’s Boot Camp which is about The Workouts, and today I need to create a Freewriting Cheat Sheet. I could seriously use one of these, so I’m really excited to have this list.

5 Things Worrying Me

  • My son’s dislike of school
  • Publishing a novel by 2020 per my students’ challenge
  • Getting my grading done on time within the next 7 days
  • Finding 20 minutes of time to write over the next 7 days
  • Getting my house ready for company a mere two days after school lets out for the summer

5 Things I’m Grateful For (I’m not going to put family as it is a given.)

  • I truly love my job.
  • I truly love my house.
  • I love and appreciate the state that I live in (Washington is beautiful.).
  • Despite that there are things that I want, there is nothing that I need. I live a blessed life.
  • I’m healthy and still play sports.

5 Things I Need to Do Today (really tomorrow since it’s almost midnight)

  • Write my final exams
  • Make my reading quiz for chapter 11 of Lord of the Flies
  • Write for 20 minutes
  • Take Cam to practice
  • Grade 1st, 3rd, and 4th period work

5 Things I Accomplished Recently

  • My deck looks absolutely beautiful with all of its plants. I worked on that last weekend.
  • I’ve been writing in some form every day.
  • I’ve kept the inside of my Jeep clean. You have no idea how horrible I am at doing this.
  • I’ve recently begun biking.
  • I’ve upped my workouts during the last two weeks.

5 Goals

  • Write a novel and publish it by June 20, 2020 (the date my students set in their challenge to me).
  • Read the book Become Organized in One Year and actually do it.
  • Write for 20 minutes every day.
  • Pay off my car early.
  • Fit into my favorite pair of jeans.

5  Things I Noticed Today that I Might Be Able to Use Somewhere

  • Today I was really cranky after my son’s baseball game.  I could probably use that anger to write a pretty decent poem.
  • I got my Photography for Beginners magazine back today. I’d like to begin going through it so I can start taking my own pictures for this blog.
  • I noticed that I’m overwhelmed with paper. I could definitely write something to first-year teachers about trying to make sure they find balance.
  • My dogs are really, really, REALLY adorable. I could totally write a poem about them. And my Shih Tzu constantly licks which is not cute, so an angry pet-peeve poem would serve me there.
  • My house is clean (due to visiting family). While I would never write about my about my clean house other than this moment, I realize how much I enjoy working and writing in a clean and organized space. It makes me feel happy and productive.

Tomorrow is the big day; I begin working on my WIP (or one of the three anyway). I’m nervous and excited at the same time. This idea has been playing around in my head for years, and getting it fleshed out will tell me if the idea is really good or just a dumb dream. Yes, there are dumb dreams. Just like there really are dumb questions.

I’m off. Hope you’ve enjoyed!

30-Day Writer's Boot Camp, Writing

Punching In, Punching Out

Day 6 of Writer’s Boot Camp

Today is about keeping track of my day. Rachel Federman has some really good advice on keeping track of my time usage in the day in order to not only see if my time is being used effectively, but also to make a plan later so that I can be more productive. She goes on to discuss that many of the people who only write when they’re inspired (me) are probably not going to be very productive in their writing lives. I have lived way this for years, so I closed my eyes in shame when I read this part. It’s like she can see inside my soul. Dang her!

I will do this, but I already know that I do not use my time effectively or I wouldn’t have grading to finish the last week of school and weight to lose this summer. Going to bed on time would be a regular occurrence, and I wouldn’t give my Sleep Alarm app a frowning face every morning when it asks me how I feel. Federman addresses the business of being busy in her book:

We all love to be busy. We love to say how busy we are. We’re addicted to what Tim Krieder brilliantly called “busy trap” and what Heather Sellers calls the “busy drug.” (41)


I can say that I do NOT suffer from this. And I actually call it BBS – Busy Bee Syndrome. I used to suffer from this. I bought my fill of planners and showed people how important my time was. When I first moved to Washington, that all stopped. I wasn’t teaching full-time anymore, and that was the first summer I realized how damaging BBS really was to me. Granted, I could keep busy during the first three weeks or so of summer vacation, but when the dust cleared and the boxes were empty from moving, there was nothing to do. And my brain couldn’t shut off. I’d spent years always having too much to do for school, and I couldn’t get rid of the feeling that something (grading, planning, emailing) had to be done now. It took me over two years to stop having that feeling.

I do fill my time, but I’m ashamed to admit that my planner is not share-with-everyone noteworthy. Truthfully, it’s not worth sharing, even embarrassing. If just thinking about how I use my time is embarrassing now, writing it all down is just going to solidify shame. However, it will be done. That is the task of the day. Once this is take care of, then I can move on to figure out how to use my time effectively in order to plan out my writing. After all, I stated in my goal setting post that I wanted to make sure that I wrote for at least 20 minutes a day (which I still struggle with), and I needed a plan for writing. Here, I’ll be able to figure out the best times to write and focus on doing something specific, as Rachel suggests in her book.

30-Day Writer's Boot Camp

Always Faithful, Always Ready

30-Day Writer’s Boot Camp Day 5

Today is a two-part writing process of always being ready to write even at the most inopportune moments and writing about what irritates me when I run into frustrating moments and can’t really write.

What surprising place can you write? Challenge yourself to find the most unusual place and time.

I haven’t actually done this yet, but I suspect that there are going to be a few places that I will whip out my scratch sheet of writing paper or my notebook to scribble some thoughts. I already grade papers in the dugout during my softball games, so I don’t think it would be any surprise to my teammates that I’m writing some things down in a notebook. It surprises other teams, however, and people who don’t know me. I could also see myself jotting down some notes while standing in the hall at school as students are coming into my classroom. Maybe those don’t seem strange to anyone else, but I would get some unusual looks.

Detox: Give yourself permission to vent. Give yourself a place to put your frustrations.

Rachel suggests even writing an angry letter and ripping it up. I think I will write the angry letter, but it will be published for the world to see.

Dear Whoever Decided to Make a Day Only 24 Hours,

Why did you do this? What made you decide that a day should only have 24 hours in it? The sun rises and sets at different times during the days and certainly during the different months and seasons. Why couldn’t the day be 36 hours? Or 40? The world would be a much happier place if we had a 36 hour day. Let me explain.

Most of us work for 8 hours of our day, and some of us work even more than that. Science shows that the average person needs around 8 hours of sleep to function properly and allow the body and the brain to heal itself from the previous day’s labors. That’s 16 hours of our day already gone to aspects of our lives that must be done if we want to be happy, healthy, and productive (and able to make our mortgage payments). That only leaves 8 hours out of the day to do other things. Unfortunately, those other things involve showering and getting ready for work. Cooking and cleaning the house. Commuting. By the time we complete the chores of the day, there are only a few hours of recreational time left, and we have to pick which ones to do on that day.

Take a look at my son who is a sophomore in high school. The other day he went to school all day. After school, he went home to change for his baseball double-header before we drove for 40 minutes to his games. He had to be there an hour early to warm up, and we didn’t get home until after 10 PM. Then he had to do homework which means that he didn’t get 8 hours of sleep after playing baseball for almost 3 hours. During this time, I also struggled to get everything done that I needed to. While he played, I had to grade papers, keeping me from being able to pay close attention to the game. I also did not get 8 hours of sleep.

If we had a 36-hour day, he could have time to do his homework and sleep extra hours before he had to be to school the next day. I would have been able to pay attention to his game, go home to grade, and sleep 8 hours before going to work. Do you see how much trouble you’ve caused the world? Many Americans are sleep-deprived and over-worked with very little time to spend on hobbies that could make them happier, healthier people. Many Americans also suffer from health issues that could have been prevented if they just had a little more time to work out.

I hope you’re happy. You are single-handedly responsible for unhappiness, sleep deprivation, and the obesity epidemic. You should be ashamed of yourself.



30-Day Writer's Boot Camp

Getting My Bearings

Day 4: Getting Your Bearings

Today is about figuring out what type of writer I am in terms of making writing a daily ritual. Even though this is only day 4, it has been a really fun process so far. Making my students are part of this has also made it quite entertaining. I’m gaining confidence in sharing my work. Naturally, they compliment me. They’re sweet, and I’m not sure they would tell me if I suck anyway. However, just the act of reading a fictional piece to them and putting myself out there has been freeing. Each time I read it, I get a little less fearful.

I have yet to get up early and write as I’m supposed to which leads me to believe that I may be one of those people who just needs to find/make time to write each day. One thing that has been new and exciting is that I look forward to finding time to write, and I was disappointed and upset on the two days that I didn’t. It has been a long time since I’ve felt such a strong desire to sit down and work on something. This blog helps quite a bit.

What Type of Writer Am I?

Such a good question. And such a hard one. Here’s what I know:

  1. There are two places that I absolutely love to go when I want to work on writing: Starbucks and my deck. Sometimes I’ll even do both in the same day. Noise is not a distraction. That’s probably the teacher in me because there are so many things that have to be tuned out in the classroom on any given work day.
  2. There doesn’t seem to be any particular time of day right now that I’m motivated to write more than other times; however, in a little over a week, I’ll be on summer vacation. During the summer, I typically start my mornings writing about or researching my interests. It’s the busy school year that makes scheduling really tough.
  3. I really like to write by hand, but I have wrist issues that keep me from being able to do this for long periods which makes typing the logical answer. I also have a newer Mac that I absolutely love, so that makes it easier to accept my physical flaws and their inability to withstand a lot of writing. (Stupid wrists!)
  4. I think I look for the ideal writing time too much and need to figure out how to push that nonsense out of my head.
  5. I don’t know if I’ll be an everyday writer or not. Even though I struggled for two days to find twenty minutes to write, I also had no problem sitting down at 10 PM after Cam’s baseball game to write for an hour and a half. Even as I write this post, I’ve already spent a good thirty minutes or more on it. When I do sit down and write, it’s for a good chunk of time.

I may not know for sure what type of writer I am, but I know some of what works and doesn’t work. I’m hoping to learn a lot more over the next 26 days as I continue this 30-Day Writer’s Boot Camp.