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Last week I challenged myself to spend more time on personal writing projects by committing to spend even more time writing about the projects. Kind of a writing begets writing theory. So…one week in, and…it’s going great! Yea for me!

All it took was not having any out-of-town meetings or social engagements, pushing off volunteer work to a minimum, and ignoring a significant number of phone calls. Easy as pie!

Obviously, longevity is going to be the real trick to this game, but I felt that the only way to get this project seriously underway was by really doing it well for the first week. Though my life will begin to repopulate with meetings, outings and phone calls, hopefully this week’s precedent will prove to elbow its way between them. Not only did it feel super-dee-duper to make progress on the writing projects that are so important to me, but also, the process of doing so allowed me to really get into the headspace of each.

Here’s a log of my progress:

  • Michigan-Made Wedding Blog It has a name! The site is called, My Mitten in Yours: Blogging Our Way to a Michigan-Made Wedding. It’s live, but it’s a work in progress, so you can go check it out if you want to, but it’s not ready for mass consumption quite yet. There’s a lot to putting a blog together that isn’t exactly writing, and I’ve been working on getting a lot of that done this week. Such as
    • Enlisting my trusty in-house design genius, Alisa Bobzien to put some rad designs for the logo and wallpaper.
    • Making the official “checklist.”
    • Creating pages and organizing the menu
    • Writing a couple of initial blogs and an “about us” section to have in the archives when it’s “go live” time.
  • Swedish Lessons I have been working on this stinking project for three years. I started by putting in order the journal entries and emails I wrote during my time in Sweden (Again, I owe the chronicling and preservation of this information to none other that Alisa, without whom, apparently, all of my projects would be disasters).

Then I began filling in the gaps with narrative. I went completely out of chronological order, opting instead for writing the anecdotes in order of how entertaining I found them. This made perfect sense at the time, as I was bringing each passage to my writers’ club, and had a keen desire to be entertaining. It didn’t end up making much sense, however, when it came to a) filling in all the necessary, but less colorful parts and b) putting everything in order in such a way that made sense.

Those challenges slowed the progress considerably. Then I found that once I put the stories in order I was fretting over the pace of the timeline, the appropriate places to introduce internal conflicts, how much character development I’d missed or overstated…blah, blah, blah… And thus, 220-some pages in, the project came to a grinding halt. It needed major work, major time invested, and I was just really busy. To be honest, I was a little tired of working on it too. So it was sort of shelved.

I was so excited when I had a sort-of assembled draft that I poured myself a glass of wine and took a picture of it. And then got busy with other things.

 

About a year ago, however, I worked one passage into an essay format to submit to a contest. This process turned on a lightbulb. A ha! I didn’t need each chapter to represent one week of the story and the tale to progress along based on perfectly paced chronology. I just needed to write essays in the order in which they happened! Ta-dah! Essay-style writing is my forte anyway, so I’m not sure why it took me so long to come to this conclusion, but I suppose it speaks to using outside forces like writing prompts and contest entries to open your mind to new inspiration.

My progress since then? Minimal. But this week I worked on re-formatting the first five weeks (previously known as the first five chapters) into eight essays. Now there are a 22 weeks total, and the first ten or so are the parts in which I’m most confident. So really, the actual progress made was small potatoes, but it felt really good.

And it prompted a very important realization: I have the opening arc of my book done. It’s ready for an editor to review. It could be sent somewhere, to an agent or a publisher. For three years I’ve been certain that it would take a complete manuscripts with which I was perfectly satisfied before I could push it out into the world somehow. It turns out, I only needed to wait until I was really ready. And I believe I am.

So tally ho! Bring it on, schedule full of other things: I have made incremental progress and I will not let you slow me down!

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