Big small changes

(S. Boehlefeld photo)

Who knew a keyboard could make so much difference?

I ordered a new wireless keyboard to use with my laptop. I’m trying to adjust to a work-at-home in retirement schedule and, even though I’ve been using my laptop almost daily since the first COVID lockdown, I only acted on the impulse to add a keyboard last week.

I’ve had the laptop for a few years and, frankly, I’ve never loved the flat keyboard. Oh, I guess I got used to it, but I like this one better. I can look straight at my screen, which is a plus.

But that’s just one small change I’ve made lately. A friend of mine, Sharon Michalove, has been sharing links for online write-ins. And the latest has been to a group called The Creative Academy for Writers. I’m not sure how old the group is, but the founders seem properly to bill themselves as “your friendly, neighbourhood accountability, craft and strategic author mentors.” And yes, they’re from the “neighbourhood” up north. I think they’re all from Vancouver, B.C., but I’m sure they’re all Canadian. The academy is a full of folks who are equally friendly, full of enthusiasm and ready to share tips as they learn them.

So far, my biggest involvement is taking part in their writing sprints. I’m in one as I write this post. They have a “writing room” that’s open 24/7 and several scheduled group sprints every day of the week. (And I’ve already talked about how much I like writing with groups.)

I joined a weekly motivation and accountability group. I’ve only been to one session so far, but I love the format. They start with a “win” from the previous week and end with a goal for the next week. We celebrate every win with jazz hands, as people politely mute their microphones during the meeting. In between wins and goals, members can bring up questions or problems they may be having with their work-in-progress (that’s WIP to some), and the host and others offer suggestions and encouragement.

I also signed up for a discussion for cozy mystery writers, but that’s not until next weekend. I’m looking forward to it.

So, what’s the bottom line from all these changes? I have a specific daily word goal in order to finish my first draft by Oct. 31. I’ve written a couple more scenes in the novel, and figured out a few more that I need. And as soon as I finish this, I’ll be back working on another one.

So, hurray for big small changes!

À bientôt!

Writing together

(Sharon’s photo)

My local writing group hosted a writing day last Saturday. A few who came, once everyone got over seeing each other again after months, had what they described as “breakthrough” days. They’d been stuck and after settling down to work had sudden insights about where to take their stories.

None of us is without competition for our time. We have kids, jobs, illnesses, the gamut of life challenges that keep us from spending time with our words. But Saturday we got to put those behind us for a few hours and get some creative work done.

Personally, I was able to sort through last year’s NaNo novel, which has in the intervening months, become two novels.

Over lunch, a few of us tuned in to Jane Cleland’s We’re All in It Together writing seminar. An award-winning author of fiction and non-fiction who is on the faculty of CUNY, she started doing online monthly talks in April 2020 after her in-person events were cancelled. She’s continued every month since then. Each talk centers around one aspect of writing. The one we listened to focused on “whispering” to build suspense. Next month is titled “Writing Crime Fiction: Even When You’re Not.”. I plan to be there.

A bientôt!