Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Operation Write

My Writing Companion (and View from My Writing Spot)

We too must endure and persevere in the inquiry, and then courage will not laugh at our faintheartedness in searching for courage; which after all may, very likely, be endurance.

- Socrates

Today began Operation Write – a commitment to write and edit for four solid hours on my non-sub days. I kept a journal of my progress. Was I successful? You be the judge.


The alarm sounds, forcing me out of bed. After exercising, I hurry to the computer. If I don’t get a job, I must begin writing at 8:00am. I’d better read blogs, check up on e-mail, and respond to comments on my blog.


No call. (Huzzah!) I’m showered, dressed, the dishwasher is emptied, and the kids have breakfast. Now I have a little while to do this and that before my “job” begins.


The children and husband leave, so I head to the kitchen to reheat my coffee. Would a little breakfast hurt before I begin? I pour the vanilla granola and milk in a bowl, and head into the kitchen to read and comment on another couple of blogs before I begin. I can’t edit while I’m eating, can I?


Hot coffee and a pile of pages from February’s critique session are on the end table to my right. I pour over the suggestions, making minor changes like wording and clarifying some parts. After two people suggest that instead of saying, “In fact, my insides felt more like steel each day,” I should give an actual item made of steel; I spend ten minutes on the Internet, looking at steel images and web pages. Nothing works. Blog readers, do you have any suggestions?


It’s time for a bathroom break and to add more coffee to my cup. I only have two more sets of pages to go from the original six. I’m proud because I’ve enhanced one scene and added dialogue in two or three places. I go back to the computer and check my e-mail, but I won’t be distracted, so I get back to work.


I’ve finished the changes to, Aura, so I go on my blog to respond to a comment when I notice that Miss Snark’s First Victim on my blogroll has started posting the next secret agent contest*. My stomach gets butterflies, but she’s only posted some, so I haven’t been skewed yet.

I go to her site and respond to three other entries. It’s my obligation to do at least five in order to be in the contest. Then I return to my blog, respond to comments, and look at Brigid’s piece from the comment she left on my last post**.


Now I’ve pulled up comments from my manuscript exchange partner. I’m a little burned out from editing, so I decide to begin writing today’s post for my blog.


I feel guilty for writing the post. Now I’ll stop and get back to work! But another bathroom break first (That’s what I get for drinking all of this coffee). My previous night’s coughing fits along with basking in the warm sun make a nap seem awfully tempting. No, I must edit!


Going through edits is really boring after a couple of hours. Curiosity gets the best of me, so I check the contest again. I’m posted. Gulp. It was only a few minutes ago, so no comments yet. Back to work. Should I reheat my coffee first? Yes, that’s a good idea. On to chapter two!


Jackee’s comments on my manuscript are great. Too bad she didn’t look through this before I sent this out to agents and publishers. I had thought it was done. A quick peek at the contest – still no comments. Are the other writers as obsessed and needy as me? I know, pathetic.


Three minutes over my “work” time and I’ve completed the edits for chapter two. Still no comments on my contest entry. Breathe. I call my husband to finalize the plans to meet for lunch. He’s not at his desk.


My husband calls. He just found out that the insurance company is paying for the roof damage (Sigh of relief). I decided to ride my bike to meet him.

Today was a good start to Operation Write. I’d like the typical schedule to be:

- First hour or two will be dedicated to writing something new (One I get through this pile of chapters that are still awaiting changes).

- The next hour or two will be dedicated to editing my work, depending on how much feedback I’ve received.

- The final hour will be dedicated to editing other people’s work. If I don’t have other work to edit, that time may be devoted to writing my blog or other blog-related activities.

And each day that I’m off, I have to squeeze in some exercise. To me, shaving thirty-minutes off this four-hour block is fine, as long as I can’t squeeze it in later because of chores and errands. I need to exercise to feel good about myself, lose a few pounds (okay, five or ten), and build up some energy. The more energy I have, the better I’ll feel and the more stamina I’ll have to write.


As I hopped on my bike, I realized that I forgot to brush my teeth. Next time, I have to remember to brush my teeth before I begin writing.

*Miss Snark’s First victim blog (I’m number 24, with mixed reviews):

**Here’s Brigid’s piece:

***Check out Jackee’s blog:


  1. I read every word of this and found it Fascinating. I don't know, it sounds like a pretty good start to me for your first day! Hooray for you! Let's hope they don't call you tomorrow either and you can get in another shift of writing! Woo hoo! Keeping my fingers crossed for your contest!

  2. Yes! You were successful! We're our own worst critics - it sounds like you accomplished lot :)

  3. Hi!!

    Oh Wow!! I like this Operation Writerly Schedule!

    Excellent. You are far more disciplined and organized than me! I might take inspiration from you and be firm with myself! And of course writers are the neediest of the bunch! We all seek validation - we all seek to be read! That's the point of being a writer - you really are one once your stuff gets read.


    So hang on it there! I've gone as far as reading your entry in MsSnark's thing..(she is one scary, scary blog person...!) so will go to the others. I just wanted to write this first to you because I'm so impressed by this schedule! Yay!

    I'm at work now and am about to do a 3 hour course in the use of "Access" software. Yawn.


    Take care

  4. KarenG, thanks for the comment. I'm sitting here, waiting for/dreading a call. So far, of the three bits I've had in her contests, only one had rave reviews, but that was NOT the secret agent one. Oh darn, the phone just rang. I'm subbing Spanish.

    Kathleen, I think I had a successful day too. For once, I wasn't being critical.

    Old Kitty, I hope the "Access" software course was surprisingly fascinating.

    It felt good to be disciplined. I hope you give it a try. We all want to be read, so all of this "write for yourself" advice is difficult to embrace.

  5. I should keep track of my time as well! I bet I waste a lot of it! As for steel: other hard things are granite, burnt bread, and diamonds. I don't know if this helps at all.

  6. Good job! Your first day of work sounded productive. I'm glad insurance covered the roof and that it was nice enough out for you to ride your bike.

  7. Sounds like a great first day - keep up the good work! Don't you just hate spending all this time trying to come up with just the right word (like something made of steel) and then finding out you don't need to use it anyway. That's not what happened to you here, but it made me think of that, because I do that all the time. Anyway, something made of steel? I'm not sure what's steel and what's other metals. Nails? A safe? Appliances? A knife?

  8. Really enjoyed reading this - actually, it sounds like your operation was a success! It takes awhile to form a habit, remember. Keep at it!

  9. Thanks for the advice, Aubrie. I'll play around with it, but I may leave steel. I picture her stomach like steel and molten steel coursing through her veins. Maybe I'll just add to the description.

    Julie I used to commute by bike for the closer jobs, but I haven't done that since the Fall. Spring is coming!

    Susan, I agree! I've spent time on many a word, only to cut the scene or line. Thanks for the suggestions.

    Talli, I will now that I'm inspired. Not only did I get all of that done, but when my daughter was at ballet, I met with another manuscript exchange partner to go over our suggestions for a couple of chapters of, Aura

  10. I work best -- okay, I only make progress on my WIP -- when I have a designated writing/editing schedule. Congrats on meeting your goal for day one! This post has inspired me, so thanks for sharing it!

    You have a fab site here. I look forward to reading more from you!

  11. Nicole, I'm glad you came to my site and like it.

    I don't know why I didn't start a schedule a long time ago. Because there are periods when I'm prolific, I never worried about the misdirected times before. Now I know better.

  12. This was a good writing day for you! Aren't they the best?

    I love this insight your writing life. And yes, I think we are all incredibly needy.

  13. Thanks for letting me know I'm not alone in being needy, Rebecca! I'm looking forward to my next writing day.

  14. Well done for hitting target... that's great! Here's to your next one :)

  15. Congrats on such a great writing day! You're certainly an inspiration. I finally have a day off subbing and I haven't had the chance to work on my MS's yet (or maybe I've had the chance but haven't taken it...)

  16. Good job on your first day of Operation Write! Keep up the good work! You are so dedicated!

  17. Hampshireflyer, thanks. We'll see if the next one is tomorrow...

    Shelley, I hope you enjoyed off. Get a chance to work on the MS's yet?

    Tiffany, thanks. I was dedicated for one day, so now I have to follow through.

  18. Congratulate youself! That's a great start!

    I admit it jarred me to see my name in your day log. And then I laughed at myself and my reaction.

    Like you, I feel guilty when I'm checking blogs instead of writing. That's why I try to check them when I'm eating too. (And nursing, and putting the baby down for a nap, and when I'm watching a show with my husband... okay, too often!)

  19. Hey Theresa. I do sell my artwork on If you are interested, there is a link on my blog to purchase. I have a new painting coming soon! Thanks for the blog love!

  20. Jackee, thanks for the congratulations.

    I'm sorry I jarred you, but I hope it sends some people your way.

    It looks like you have plenty of more valid times to check blogs! Oh, if only there had been blogging when my children were babies.

    glauren5, there was a lot on the site when I checked art, so I wasn't sure exactly how to see your pieces. I'll look for your painting.

  21. Sounds like you had a really great first day. You're an inspiration. :)

  22. Thanks, Sarahjayne. I'm looking forward to next time.

  23. I need to get this schedule. I seem to waste more time. It just ticks away with hardly noticed. It is great you have critique partners. I would love that. This was a fun and interesting post. Hope you get to use your schedule again tomorrow. Take care. A

  24. Ann, I can't believe just as I set this up, I worked FOUR days last week! We'll see what happens this week.

    I'm glad you enjoyed the post. I highly recommend critique partners and groups. I'm as shy as you get (when I'm not teaching) and I'm glad I've done it.

    I can't believe how many "I's" are in this response. I can't!

  25. Oh, very cool! I love that if you don't sub, you write. That's how I treat my summer break as a teacher, too, and it's very productive. Hope you do another one of these!

  26. Thanks, Beth. The good thing about being a sub is that it gives me more time to write. I loved your in real time writing blog too. We should do these periodically!

  27. Great read!

    I should try this sometime. It's sorta like when you keep a food diary so you end up feeling guilty about all the crap you're consuming. I think I'd be disgusted with myself if I actually had to keep track of all the time I spend screwing off instead of writing. Not to mention my agent and editor would be disgusted with me if I actually posted it for the public to see.

    Thanks for the fun read!


  28. Tawna, great analogy. I'm sure that your agent and publisher know that writers lose focus.

    I figured that if I kept track on a post, I'd make sure that the biggest chunk was devoted to actual writing. But I had to take breaks!