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Anniversaries

partially blurred clocks flying over gray backgroundJanuary marked nine years since I started writing. February was 10 years since I quit working for someone else. March means I’ve been married to my awesome man for 23 years (!!). And in May I’ll have been teaching Scrivener for seven years. (April is, apparently, worthless.)

Every time these anniversaries roll around, I’m shocked at how much time has passed.

And yet, if I look back, tons has happened. Contest wins and finals. A nonfiction book deal. Three training platforms. Four novels indie published. Two kids in college. Five moves. And so many new friends. Whew!

I’ve grown immensely as a writer and businessperson, though there will always be more to learn. In fact, that’s part of what keeps it interesting.

There are things I miss about having a “day” job—the camaraderie, the ability to leave work behind at the end of the day, a steady paycheck—but I love being my own boss.

Unlike many of the jobs I’ve had over the years—being a military spouse either means having a long resumé or no resumé—writing never ceases to be a challenge. You don’t “master” it and then get bored. (Or realize how repetitive it is, have a blast learning how to automate it, and then get bored. Oops.)

In addition to improving the craft of writing and storytelling, there’s always a new storyline to develop, a plot problem to solve, or a character to understand.

And no matter how many manuscripts I write—and there are way more in various stages of never-to-be-completed/published than the four novels I have out—each one presents its own struggle. Usually the good kind. Like solving a puzzle.

(Please remind me of that next time I’m pulling out my hair over my current work in progress.)

And when I want a break from writing, I get to teach people how to use my favorite program. I talk to real live humans, and help them solve a problem. Two activities I adore. 😉 Plus, the need to keep up with Scrivener and all the technologies I use to provide online courses and private training ensure I’ll never be bored.

(Side note: If your kids ever tell they could never be bored if they had a dog, I’m here to tell you they’re lying.)

So, basically, I’m happy.

Last weekend we celebrated our wedding anniversary with 36 hours in Seattle. Below are a few pics.

tulips in buckets in a public market

Fresh flowers at Pike Place Market

utility cover stamped with flowers and "CITY LIGHT CITY BRIGHT" repeated around the edges

Every utility cover I saw in Seattle was different. This one was across from the Seattle Art Museum.

Camellia bush in front of pond with pine trees in background

Washington Park Arboretum Japanese Garden

vine-covered pergola in pond with mostly bare willow and greenery in background

Washington Park Arboretum Japanese Garden

tall bridge over lake in early morning, with dock and boathouse in front and smaller boats in back

George Washington Bridge over Lake Union looking East from the Fremont Bridge

boathouse and canoes on water

Center for Wooden Boats on South Lake Union

What big milestones or anniversaries are happening for you this year?

Thanks for 6 years of community and sharing

6 years confetti sign

On October 27th, my blog/website turned six! It started out as The Edited Life—which I thought was oh, so clever until I realized there was a radio show and a book or two by the same name—a place for me to establish a presence online even though I wasn’t yet published. Agents and editors back in 2009 were recommending (and still do) that all authors have a web page. So I made one.

Like everyone else who didn’t yet have anything to attract readers, I blogged for other writers (and hoped a few friends would show up). And then about three weeks in, I wrote about the writing program my friend had recommended called Scrivener.

Then I kept writing about it because it was fun, and I’m a nerd about stuff like that.

People started finding my site, I published a few books, taught some classes and workshops, and now I have this awesome community of writers and readers. You’ve gone along for the ride as I’ve shared travel stories, lessons learned, rejections, successes, plans, failures, struggles, and motivations. And best of all, you’ve shared back.

To all of you—whether you’ve been with me since the early days, or just joined me recently—thank you!

Thanks confetti sign

 

Leveraging Scrivener for NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo shield logo

For the first time since I started writing, I’m not participating in NaNoWriMo. Not because I doubt the value of it, but because I’m nearing the end of my book and I need to focus on finishing and revising, rather than stressing over daily word count.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t remind you of all the ways I think Scrivener is great for NaNo. 🙂

The key to making your 1667 words per day is to never stop writing. Don’t edit, don’t research, don’t stare at the wall trying to craft the perfect line of dialog. Just write. Scrivener can help.

Since this post has become an annual tradition—and I don’t think I can top my suggestions for last year—here’s the lowdown on Scrivener’s best features for NaNoWriMo—and a bit of inspiration—from 2013.

Time-delay the Idea Fairy

Create a couple of text documents somewhere outside of the Draft/Manuscript folder before you start.

1) A document to jot down concepts that come to you for future scenes. When an idea hits, you can make a note of it and get back to work. I call mine “Ideas”. Clever, yes?

2) A change log to keep track of changes you want to make to existing scenes. Don’t go back and make the revisions, just note them in the log and keep writing as if you already did. In another dazzling display of brilliance, mine is named “Change Log”.

Just Keep Writing

Next time you get stuck trying to figure out the witty dialog in a scene, the ideal name for your fictional corporation, or the mating rituals of the Asian long-horned beetle, create an annotation (Format—>Inline Annotation) or a comment (Format—>Comment) to make a note of it and keep writing.

Later you can go back and use Edit—>Find—>Find By Formatting to search for annotations and comments when you’re ready to work on them. AFTER you hit 50K.

Block Distractions

Free yourself from distractions with Full Screen Composition mode. Called Full Screen in Windows and Composition mode on the Mac (to avoid confusion with Mac’s full screen option), this feature blocks out everything but your blank page so you can just write.

Consider adding a custom background color or image to keep you in the right frame of mind.

Add a pair of headphones or earbuds—with or without music—and you’re ready to rock.

Pre-Plot, If You Prefer

If you’re a plotter, consider creating your scene documents beforehand either in the Binder or the Corkboard. If you like to plot using index cards, then select the Draft/Manuscript folder, make sure you’re in Corkboard view (View—>Corkboard if you’re not), then click the circular green Add button on the toolbar to create a new card. Title it, add a brief synopsis of the scene and repeat.

Once you have all of your scene documents created it’s merely a matter of filling them with words starting November 1.

Keep Important Info at Hand

You don’t want to spend your precious writing time searching for a key piece of information. Before November rolls around, import into your project any research documents, images, or references you must have in order to write. Select the desired folder (outside of the Draft/Manuscript folder) and go to File—>Import. For web pages, you might want to use References instead.

Track Your Progress

Your goal is 50,000 words, and Scrivener makes it easy to track your progress with project targets. Go to Project—>Show Project Targets (Mac) or Project–>Project Targets (Windows).

You can set a target for the entire manuscript, as well as one for each writing session. The session target is nice because it lets you track your word count either over the course of a whole day, or in smaller writing “sprints”.

One thing to keep in mind with word count is that the NaNoWriMo site might calculate word count slightly differently than Scrivener. For example, Scrivener counts a hyphenated word as two, while the NaNo counter looks for spaces to identify each new word and only counts hyphenated words as one. So, you might want to shoot a little beyond the 50K finish line just to be on the safe side.

Download the NaNoWriMo Template or Trial Version

Current Scrivener users can download a special NaNoWriMo template that comes loaded with predefined project statistics and compile settings.

For those who are new to Scrivener, Most Wonderful Keith and his crew at Literature & Latte have put together a NaNo version of the Scrivener free trial that gives you extra time to play with the program and includes the template I mentioned above. If you decide you love Scrivener, wait for the NaNoWriMo discount at the end of November before you buy.

Remember the Point

Don’t forget that NaNoWriMo is intended to be fun. It’s supposed to be a challenge that forces you to re-evaluate what you’re capable of. 4000-word writing days? You betcha. Writing for three, four, or eight hours in one day? I know you can do it.

And in the end, even if you don’t reach 50K, you’re still a lot further ahead than you were on November 1st. That makes you a winner no matter what.

Good luck!

For more information on the features mentioned in this post, check out Scrivener For Dummies or sign up for an online class.

5 Year Anniversary!

By the way, this week was the five year anniversary of my blog. I can’t believe I’ve been writing posts for that long, or that some of you have stuck around with me since nearly the beginning. For my followers—new and old—thank you for your continued support.

If you're curious, here’s my first blog post from October 27, 2009: Goal, Motivation & Conflict.  At that time, I’d been writing for less than a year. It wasn’t long before I put up my first Scrivener post, and the rest is history… 😉

Celebrating love

WeddingKiss

This week I celebrated my 19th wedding anniversary. I can’t believe it’s been that long since we walked down the aisle, but I've been happy about it every day since.

There’s a reason I believe in love and happily ever after, and it’s my husband. 🙂

Fifteen years

Today is my fifteen year wedding anniversary. I always wonder if I believe in the HEA (happily ever after) so much because I'm living it.

When I ponder whether it's realistic for a H/H to fall in love after a few days, I only have to think back to the first week with my husband. It took less than five days for me to decide he was the one. I still waited almost two years to marry him–just in case–but I felt it almost right away once we started dating.

I had just told my mom I needed to go out with a guy that I already knew–who wasn't on my dating radar–and voila! Life delivered.

How cool is that?