Roaming About

A Life Less Ordinary

IWSG Writing Update – November 2016

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, the IWSG would like to see a particular question answered in each blog post. This month that question is “What is your favorite aspect of being a writer?”

Exactly one year ago I started writing my memoir, Floating About – A Life Less Ordinary (working title) by following a one month “outline course”, organized by Christine Gilbert. I’d like to say I’ve come a long way since then, but truth is, I have come a very short way. I worked hard that first month, November 2015, creating an initial outline and pumping out 90,000 words getting there. I also started this blog, Roaming About, around then. All that extra time, unlimited internet and “free” electricity after living on a basic sailboat for so long, had to be put to good use!

Then, my fire extinguished a little bit over the winter and by the summer, all the distractions became too much. At this point, I have 7 first draft chapters out of 27, which I am not very happy with. I am still struggling with finding the right theme(s) and angle. Once the first draft manuscript is finished, I will need to cut about 3/4 probably, since my intention now is to “write it all down”, integrating previous notes, blogs and articles. After an extremely busy September and semi-October, I promised to pick up work on my book again, and I have. As long as I don’t get too distracted by other writing commitments (to myself), I’ll be OK in November. But, blogging and all that comes with it is taking a very big chunk of time out of my weeks.

I convince myself that creating blogs is good exercise for my writing and that eventually, something good and beneficial will come of it. Who am I kidding? To write a book, you have to be committed, you have to focus, you need goals, and you have to prioritize. I feel like a broken record. I know what to do: reduce (or pause) blogging – that includes reading other blogs and commenting – and work on my book. Or write articles again, since Mark is the only breadwinner right now and it has been ages since I wrote an article. Sounds easy and manageable enough, except for the fact that I like posting three blogs a week, that I have this need to share our lifestyle and the hope that people actually enjoy reading these stories. I also want my blog to grow and inspire readers to live a life less ordinary, to follow their desires, to not dream but do!

This month is NaNo (National Novel) writing month, which encourages novel writers to focus on their book and write 50,000 words in one month. Since I am working on a non-fiction book, I can’t join that productive challenge, but I could unofficially aim to add 50,000 words to my manuscript in November. How is that for a goal?

My new office in Northern California

My new office in Northern California

Now, to answer the IWSG question of this month… My initial favorite aspect of being a writer is both a blessing and a curse. As a writer, you are never, ever bored. You are always thinking about story ideas, mulling over concepts and writing in your head. Whether you are waiting for a bus, sitting on the toilet, driving the car, or on a six-hour night watch crossing the Pacific Ocean, scenes and scenarios play off in your head and immaculate phrases appear. A whole chapter, blog or story finds its perfect composition. Only too bad you did/could not write any of it down. Trying to recreate that inspiration on the screen or on paper… nah, just not happening. If only our brain could record these voices and ideas and turn them into typed words automatically.

Why is this non-stop mind action a curse? Well, it can drive you totally mad, especially when you want some peace. Imagine trying to fall asleep when the rotors “up there” keep spinning. Or, you would like to just sit and do nothing, watch a sunset, relax on the couch. Impossible! The thoughts – productive or not – keep coming and there is no way to put a halt to that. Because of this love/hate relationship with the thought process, my more favorable favorite aspect about being a writer is not this busy brain, but the practical fact that you can take your profession (read: computer and brain) everywhere. Other than the low pay, it is the perfect job to have on the road, the rails, the water, the planet!


  1. I think your goals are good ones. If you can write some good words in November, you might find that clarity and motivation to keep going, finish the draft and get ready for the edits. As for the blog, I would certainly miss reading each week, but even if you reduced to one a week, or four a month, it would still be as productive (maybe more so) than many other blogs. That set schedule is hard, and I always tell myself to make a day of the week blog day…yeah, right, but right now, this moment, I’m inspired. From now on, Wednesday’s it is.

    Any bets on how long I keep that up?

    • Schedules are good, I think, especially when it comes to writing and blogging. I know three a week is a lot, but there are certain themes I want to keep following, like one photo blog a week, some blogs about sights and some about house sitting. And, for ages, I have wanted to share tips about frugal living. No lack of topics, and I love to write. If only that aspiration and effort could be used towards my book. Trying! I know! You are doing great with your Wednesday blogs, they nicely coincide with the IWSG posts! Coincidence?? 🙂

  2. I’m also a non-fiction writer, so not participating in NaNo. But I have begun writing my second book. I’m still in the outline phase, but excited to be getting started on book 2. I also plan on keeping up with my blog, and hopefully not getting too distracted with everything else!

    • It is pretty amazing if you can combine all that! And, on to a second book as well! I do like the outlining process and writing descriptions of what I want to accomplish with my book, but the actual writing is harder to resonate with. I want it a certain style, with lots of anecdotes, humor and dialogue, but am unable to accomplish that! Enjoy the writing process and lack of distractions, Jennifer! 🙂

  3. I’ve find small goals helps us get there. Otherwise, it’s just too overwhelming. So even if you just write 15 minutes a day, if you stick to it every day it will add up.

    • You are so right! I always want to do and accomplish so much that it works demotivating. For that reason, I have found that making a weekly list instead of a daily one is much more achievable…

  4. I like to use the energy of NaNo month to do my own thing. I highly encourage it!

    • For some reason, accepting a challenge, knowing you are not the only one doing it (whether it is writing, exercising or dieting) seems to give that extra push that is needed to get things done! Good luck writing your 50,000 words, Shannon!

  5. It’s a shame you can’t participate in NaNo, but I like the idea of you setting your own 50k goal during November. I signed up for NaNo, but not sure if I’m going to do it as I’m visiting family during the first part of the month and don’t have a lot of time to devote to writing. I hope you keep blogging, but totally get that you might need to reduce the schedule/focus on it.

    • Thanks, Ellen. Visiting family (just like sightseeing, trying to exercise, walk the dog and blogging :-)), will make it hard to stick to the challenge. I hope you succeed! 50,000 words is a lot and only achievable with few distractions and no editing efforts, I think… Are you working on a new story or will you try to progress on the fictional one you have been thinking about/working on a while?

  6. So challenging to find the balance. I’m not attempting to write a book and I find the blogging and social media taking up a big portion of time. I keep thinking i will find the perfect balance and then more ideas pop into my head. Wishing you good luck with your 50,000 words in November! I admire your dedication.

    • When you are as responsible and committing as you (and I) are, social media and blogging take up heaps of time. Too much, really, in my opinion. I’m like you, with all those ideas to blog and write about! It doesn’t stop. And, my whole life, I have had a hard time making decisions and choosing (things to do, see, eat, experience, write about…). Ask my mom! 🙂 The dedication for the 50,000 words is there, but I just realized that 50,000 is a lot of words! I was hoping to write – and reread/edit – one first draft chapter a week from now on, but that would only produce about 25,000 words in one month. Hmmm… I either have to aim for less words, or forget about the first draft editing process, I think… Why do I always jump into things head first, without actually considering the consequences (or realities)? 🙂

  7. I generally have 3 posts a week but it’s sometimes too much of an effort, Liesbet. Not the writing but the constantly refilling Inbox. Sometimes there are interesting offers/suggestions in there that I simply don’t have time to pursue. I think you really have to decide what it is you want to do and how much you want to do it. Some authors just seem to sit down and focus, focus, focus till it’s done, but we’re not all the same, are we? Good luck with the 50,000 words. That sounds constructive. 🙂

    • Yes, you are so right, Jo. Between the writing, editing, picking and resizing and captioning photos, posting, comments, blog hops and inbox needing attention, blogging is hard and time-consuming work. I do have to decide what I want to do, and I find myself sounding very immature, when the answer is “too much”. 🙂 Let’s start with the 50,000 rough words, or 25,000 edited ones… 🙂 Thanks for the encouragement!

  8. Good luck on your challenge. Setting goals can be very encouraging.

  9. Good luck with all your writing endeavors, and trying to stay afloat!
    Mary at Play off the Page

  10. You can totally do NaNoWriMo, even though you’re working on non-fiction. The NaNo police won’t arrest you for trespassing, I promise.

    I’m in the same boat (ha ha) right now, and finally made the difficult decision to take this month off from blogging. I was putting way too much pressure on myself, and a lot of bloggers are too busy with the holidays and maybe NaNo this month to notice.

    You’ve gotta do what works best for you.

    • You’re probably right. This month and the next are probably good ones to take a break from blogging. But, it almost feels like an addiction, or a commitment to myself to do these posts. If we would live more boring lives and I would have a less active mind, it would be easier to skip the blogs for a little while! 🙂

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