Roaming About

A Life Less Ordinary

IWSG Writing Update – April 2017

Every first Wednesday of the month, the IWSG (Insecure Writer’s Support Group) encourages writers to share their fears, thoughts, progress, struggles, excitement, encouragement or anything really about their writing.  Since August 2016, the IWSG offers a particular question as a writing prompt for their members. Answering it is optional. This month that question is “Have you taken advantage of the annual A to Z Challenge in terms of marketing, networking, publicity for your book? What were the results?”

Talking about a current topic… The A to Z Blogging Challenge takes place every April. Last year, I did participate for the first time and succeeded in the challenge. I even picked a theme: “Thoughts on Being a Nomad”. You can read those posts here. After a month of writing and posting every day, the A-Z Challenge finished with a reflection post. I might have mentioned that I started work on a memoir, but I did not promote anything.

The challenge helped me gather a small group of faithful “Roaming About – A Life Less Ordinary” followers/commenters and encouraged me to subscribe to some of the participants’ blogs as well. I enjoyed posting every day, letting my creativity run loose, discovering new blogs and making virtual friends, but the biggest negative was the time dedicated to my own text, photos, layout and editing, and even more to reading and commenting elsewhere on the web. Blogging can be a full-time occupation! Which brings me to this month’s writing update!

March saw me pick up my memoir again. I worked on two chapters for that ever-lasting first draft, which brings me to 17 of the (for now) intended 28. Still slow progress if you ask me. While I think I have a possible theme figured out, I find it hard to focus on those feelings and events that link to the story line. Instead, I am still putting way more than necessary in the manuscript, to hopefully edit and cut heaps later on. I know this is only the first draft, but not much is stringing the story or the chapters together yet. I keep telling myself that this needs to get figured out in the second or even third draft, but being unable to see the book as a polished and fluent whole yet bugs me.

I also finally finished reading and doing the exercises in “Your Life as Story” by autobiography expert Tristine Rainer and made summaries of the tips she offers. While the book is quite dated, I found it helpful to get the juices flowing and to figure out what it is I want to write about.

Despite my efforts to focus on writing my memoir and cutting down on blogging and social media  – actions that are not easy to accomplish (Hugh recently wrote an interesting post about this topic) – I am disappointed about my writing progress in March. Luckily, this time it was for reasons that were quite enjoyable: we had visitors from Belgium for ten days and that meant sightseeing from morning till evening and driving big distances… More about that later. 🙂

More about that later 🙂


  1. I was at conference recently and went to talk on writing the memoir, so best of luck

    • Thanks, Claire. Attending such a conference would be beneficial to me as well, but the ones on the West Coast seem to be incredibly expensive… Feel free to share any tips you learned. 🙂

  2. Now I know what the A to Z Challenge is! 🙂 I’m not sure I could blog every day, but perhaps I’ll give it a try once I have a published novel (probably should say, if, but I am practicing the power of positive thinking).

    • It will be a when and not an if! Sharing your positive thinking and encouragement. 🙂 The A-Z challenge is fun, but not much else gets done that month. Most participants start working on a theme and some of the posts ahead of time, but still, it is extremely time-consuming. If I were bored (which never happens) or retired (which might never happen either), I’d give it another try. 🙂

  3. While you’re post is about writing, I can’t help but focus on the picture of you and Mark. A lot of people say cruising up here is like sailing through Yosemite National Park — I think I can now add myself to that list. WOW!

    Stephanie @ SV CAMBRIA

    • I could see some resemblances with the Pacific Northwest, based on your amazing photographs! I had a feeling that the photo might be distracting… But, still better than one of a computer on a desk. 🙂

  4. Love that picture. Never wrote a memoir best of luck in your writing.
    Juneta @ Writer’s Gambit

  5. I love, love, love that picture of you and Mark! And I am so happy that you are focused on your memoir again. I personally believe you should continue to let your creativity flow and write, write, write. Give yourself a deadline and then start editing. If you try to do both at the same time you will cut off your creativity. They are very different processes and should be kept separate (says I who has never written a book, but I’ve written a lot of presentations and blog posts in my time and that is my process). Looking forward to seeing how you enjoyed your time with visitors!

    • Of course I wrote that I focused on my memoir again. That was over two weeks ago… 🙂 It is a good approach, to write, write, write, and I hope to continue on that journey shortly again, once I have caught up on emails and blogs of others, and some Wirie stuff, and some photo stuff and… Yeah… I know. Nice to take a break from it all and ferry visitors around while enjoying some of the sights in the vicinity. Now, time is running out on this sit (less than three weeks left) and after that, we will be crazy busy in New England and Belgium. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I better get writing again, now that it still fits in the schedule. 🙂

  6. WOW love that photo of you two, great scenery. Off to catch another train. Enjoy our contact and your feedback on here so don’t totally disappear from WordPress 🙂 Suz

    • I don’t think I could totally disappear, even if I wanted to. Too many adventures and photos and experiences to share… 🙂 Happy training, and enjoy your next European sit, Suz.

  7. Thanks so much for linking to my recent post about blogging guilt and stress, Liesbet.

    No, I’m not participating in the A-Z challenge. To be honest, I know many people enjoy them, but the thought of having to post on a theme every day for a month (except on a Sunday) would cause me a little stress. I enjoy reading and commenting on the posts of some of those who are participating, though.

    • You are very welcome, Hugh. That post sure resonated with me and why repeat the words and thoughts so well expressed already. 🙂 All I got to say is that people joining the A-Z Challenge in a committed way must have a lot of time on their hands – or the flexibility to focus on such pursuits. Just like me, last year. It is more fun than other writing projects, but one has to be “stronger” this year. 🙂

    • PS: I remember you saying something about not being able to leave comments on the About Us pages of bloggers, so that triggered me to check my set-up. And, I finally figured out how to enable the comments there. After you swung by. 🙂 Thanks for unconsciously prompting me.

      • I do go on a little about bloggers who don’t have an ‘about me’ page or where they do have one and it either says something like ‘this is an example of an about me page’ or it’s very difficult to find. The first thing I do when a new blogger follows me is to go and check out their ‘about me’ page. If there isn’t one or I can’t find it, then I’m unlikely to follow back (unless they haven’t been blogging for less than a few months).

        Thanks again, Liesbet. Have a great weekend.

        • I hear you, Hugh! I’ve come across those “this is an example pages” as well. Have a nice weekend!

  8. I love, love, love this blog. And I also love that you’re struggling with the draft. I hope that doesn’t sound mean. I really, firmly believe that good writing is supposed to be difficult and draining. I honestly don’t see the point of easy writing. Nothing is learned, nothing is sacrificed. I wish you success and offer my continued support. Keep going, you’re doing so great.

    • Thank you, Ryan, for encouraging me and believing in me. I seriously never thought that writing a book would be so taxing and “eternal”. And, it is not so much the writing, that’s easy. It is the good, engaging writing that needs to flow together in an attractive narrative. But, I shouldn’t worry about that part yet and just stick to completing the first draft for now.

  9. Your Life as Story sounds like a good book that I’d like to use to write about my life, which is something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time now.

    I hope you are able to write more for April. 🙂

    • Another memoir writer recommended it to me, Chrys. While it is a bit dated, I found it very helpful and insightful, as themes and ideas started to emerge through the exercises! Give it a go…

  10. Great post. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Fabulous last shot, Liesbet. Good to see you out and about enjoying yourself. 🙂 🙂
    Nobody ever said writing a book should be easy. I agree with you- done properly blogging can be a full time job.

    • I am very impressed with you keeping it up and being so responsive, engaging and caring, Jo. After a busy year trying to blog and engage a lot, I now have moments where I would like to give it all up, forget about all the “commitments” and live life off line. 🙂 Luckily, they are just moments.

      We love to go on excursions during the weekends, but that, again, means more material to blog about. And, I truly hope to reduce my amount of blogs a week. It is a pickle! 🙂

  12. It sounds quite interesting. I’d have loved to have some tips before I started writing the life story of my parents.

    • Good for you for writing a biography. I do find it easier to write chronologically than to weave different stories and times together in an alternative format. Wishing you success with finishing the story!

  13. It was very interesting to read about the A to Z Challenge. You postet a lovely photo.
    Have a great weekend!

  14. Gorgeous photo!

    The A to Z is incredibly time-consuming. I loved the experience, and it’s how I met you and a few other people I adore. But oy vey! I’m sure I spent five hours each day writing my post and reading/commenting on others. It’s almost a full-time job. (Or maybe I’m just slow.)

    As for your memoir, please don’t beat yourself up. There’s a reason why a good percentage of memoirists hire ghostwriters to co-write, or at least help figure out the structure of the project. When you’re that close to a story, it’s hard to get some perspective. I’m a member of a prof. ghostwriting organization out of NYC. If you want to talk to them, let me know. I’ve seen lots of memoir projects come up through them, and they work with a wide range of budgets. You might just need a consolation session or two.

    • Thanks for the suggestion, jmh. I’ll see how frustrated I become first. 🙂 It is important for me to complete projects, though, so I will not easily give up. About the A-Z, that’s about how many hours a day I spent on it as well, last year. You are not slow, we are just thorough and genuine and that takes time. The reward was meeting people like you and finding interesting blogs! I”m hoping to put most of that time into my memoir this year, well… as much that is left of April.

  15. Don’t be so hard on yourself Liesbet … the memoir will come. Creative outlets can’t be pushed I think, right? As you ease the pressure, the juices will flow.

    Love the photos of the two of you with that amazing backdrop! Wow.


    • Thanks, Peta. I know I should relax a bit more about this topic, but I also know that the more I linger, the longer this already humongous project will last. Let’s just say that I am more used to setting my mind on something and accomplishing that goal pretty quickly. This one is different and needs some extra getting used to and patience. 🙂

  16. I hear you on the falling behind in the writing the book department Liesbeth. Just keep pushing. Work on the chapters you feel you need to write about. Eventually while you’re writing, more will come to you about another chapter, make sure you jot notes to include for that chapter while you’re working on the current one. Once you’ve written the first draft, sort out your chapters in pieces. Some use a cork board, some use Scrivener. I’m old fashioned and place all my chapters on the living room floor, lol. Eventually, it will come together. 🙂

    • I am taking your advice, Debby. Thanks. Just trotting along right now, writing away and taking notes in the sidebars of my outlined chapters. I am using Scrivener and, while I still haven’t looked at the tutorial in over a year and I am not benefiting from any functions, I do enjoy working in it. I just have so many blogs, notes, thoughts, articles, diaries, ideas, photo captions … gathered over all these years, some of which I want to incorporate into the manuscript. It is quite a mess and extremely time-consuming to go through. 🙂

      • You sound like me when I’m working on a book. I have been trying to wrap my head around Scrivener for almost 3 years now! I bought the program, went back to it several times and it’s all Greek to me, lol. I’m a tactile person. I write in longhand, I make lots of notes in margins as I’m writing and highlight them, marked to include. If ideas come for another chapter while I’m working on another, I make a separate page note and stick it in that chapter to come back to. I lay my chapters out across the floor or dining room table to physically look at and move around. I can’t help it, that’s how I roll. LOL 🙂

        • I still have a lot of written material in longhand as well, not in the least 25 years of diaries, and seeing how all the ink is faded after years, made me cringe and move to digital writing! It is easier to visualize everything the way you do it, Debby.

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