Monday, March 3, 2008


The response to FEBO was amazing. It has been an encouragement to see so many writers making goals and then setting out to achieve them.

Whatever you accomplished in FEBO, you should take a moment to pat yourself on the back and say "Well done." Don't think about what you didn't get done--just think about the writing or editing or submitting or journaling or project-starting that you did do. Wish we could all get together and throw ourselves a party!

I'm still thinking about where to go from here with FEBO. I want to pray about it too.

But meanwhile, we can all be setting our writing goals for March. The trick is to set goals that will challenge and stretch us a little, without going crazy and setting unrealistic goals that can only lead to failure, self-loathing, and massive consumption of carbohydrates. I of learned this the hard way in FEBO! Fortunately, I'm fond of carbohydrates.

A new month is a great time for setting new goals, renewing our vision, letting go of past failures, and pressing ahead to future success. This may sound dumb but one of my goals right now is simply to find the right goal for my discipline of daily writing.

What about you? Are you continuing your goals from FEBO or making a new plan? And how do you find the balance point between asking too much of yourself and asking too little?

Friday, February 29, 2008

Day 29: Farewell to FEBO!

February 29th. The last day of February and of FEBO. Where do we go from here?

A Musing Mom, Donna Alice, and NancyE have suggested a Yahoo Group. That would give us all the ability to chime in whenever, and I like that.

Here is my one reservation, because I have also considered this alternative. I already belong to an on-line crit group--through Yahoo groups. I absolutely adore my group, but it can also be time consuming by spells. If I can discipline myself to turn off my email during "writing time," so that I'm not always being interrupted by Yahoo messages, I think it might work.

Let me ponder this possibility and get back to you. I don't want to lose touch with you guys. In fact, I'd like to know you better. And I'd like to have some gentle accountability to meet my writing goals. And I'd like to see all of you reach your goals too!

So, on to MARMO!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Day 27: Confessions of a Reluctant Blogger

Actually, I didn't set out to do a blog.

I have nothing against blogs. In fact, I greatly admire all you writers who take the time to blog. You are amazing. And some day I may really want to do a blog on some topic that floats my boat.

But for me, FEBO isn't about a blog. It's about connecting with other writers for mutual support and encouragement as we set out to make writing a daily habit, to set goals and reach them, little by little--or chunk by chunk as Peaches put it in her latest entry on The Word Place.

This month has flown by a lot faster than a typical February. I have been so inspired by Llama Mama and A Musing Mom and bbear and Donna Alice and Katiebee and nlindabrit and NancyE and everyone of you. I guess time really does fly when you're having fun.

I have struggled in February to reach my goals, but I don't want to quit. I don't want to lose touch with all of you. I hope to keep going on into MARMO.

But as I said, I didn't set out to do a blog. Do any of you know of a place in cyber space where we could have more of a forum, a place where we could just check in now and then to report on how we're doing? Sort of like a blog, but not with one person pontificating and others adding comments in fine print--a place where we could all chime in as equals?

There may not be a better way to do it than this. . .as a series of linked blogs. But I am open to suggestions.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Day 23: Little by little

If at first you don't succeed, lower your expectations!

This modern take on an old proverb seems like a cop-out at first glance, but it contains a germ of truth.

Sometimes we "fail" simply because we set unrealistic goals for how much we're going to accomplish (write two chapters a day) or how fast we're going to get it done (lose 40 pounds this month).

I don't know if my Febo goals were unrealistic or not. But I do know that a lot of stuff came up this month that I wasn't expecting. Sickness. House guests. Family stuff. And exactly why did I invite all those people to dinner next week? :~)

So I've decided that it's better to "lower my expectations" than to quit.

I am reminded of another proverb, this one from the book of Proverbs in the Bible:

Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow. --Prov. 13:11

The writer of this passage was talking about acquiring wealth, but it applies nicely to writing a book too. Brick by brick. Page by page. Day by day. With patience and persistence, little by little adds up to a lot.

There are some expectations I refuse to lower. I don't want to compromise on quality. I don't want to compromise on completing the writing project I'm working on. It may take a little longer than I had hoped, but I'm going to reach the finish line--little by little.

FEBO was never really about seeing how many words we can generate in one marathon month. It's about forming new writing habits for a lifetime.

In the immortal words of Peaches:

I think maybe there's only one rule when it comes to writing--DON'T QUIT!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Day 19

There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately no one knows what they are.

--Somerset Maugham

This is one of my favorite writing quotes. It pretty much says it for me. Writing is an exploratory expedition. If there are three rules--or two or ten--I'm going to have to find them on my own. I can only learn to write by writing.

If you’re going to be a writer, the first essential is just to write. Do not wait for an idea. Start writing something and the ideas will come. You have to turn the faucet on before the water starts to flow.
--Louis L’Amour

What a crazy endeavor writing is. You have to start a sentence (like this one) or a blog entry (ditto) or a chapter or an essay without knowing exactly where you will end up. Even if you make a plan. Even if you think you know the ending.

Heather Sellers, the author of
Chapter by Chapter, compares writing to faith:

When you write, you believe in something no one else can see. You spend lots of time committed to a project for which there are no assurances, no guarantees. Being a writer subjects you to the same doubts, the same unpopularity, the same nagging questions that believers struggle with.

And yet it is amazing how when you do take that leap of faith onto the blank page, things begin to shape up and come together in unexpected ways. Quirky new characters drop in for tea. The plot thickens. You take a walk in the woods and a startled chipmunk gives you a new idea. While you sleep, the answer to a story problem comes in a dream. There seems to be something about courageously setting out that invites the things you need to finish the work.

Watch for these gifts, and accept them gratefully

Friday, February 15, 2008

Day 15: Mid Point

Today is day 15 of FEBO, the middle day of February in the year 2008. If the writing life were a linear, logical progression, you would be half done with your writing goals for February.


But it's not. At least it's not for me. I got side-swiped by a flu bug early in the month, and this feels more like Day 7. Maybe you were derailed by something else, and you're actually on Day 10. Or maybe you're just joining FEBO today, and this is Day 1.

FEBO really isn't about yesterday--with its failures or successes. And it's not about tomorrow--when we fantasize about how organized we're going to get and all that we'll do some day.

FEBO is about TODAY. About setting writing goals and working on them today. Today is a fresh start, a clean page.

To paraphrase Aragorn's battle speech in The Lord of the Rings: "The day may come when the hearts of men will fail. . .but it is not this day. This day we write!"

So, welcome, one and all, to Day 1.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Day 14: A Valentine for Writers

Dear Writer. . . .

You may not be rich.

Or famous.

You may not get letters from adoring readers or crazed fans.

You may not be doing the talk show circuit to promote your latest best seller.

You may feel like you’re never going to get a break / be discovered / find an agent / finish the stupid book you’ve been writing since Ronald Reagan was in the White House.

But still you keep plugging away in the face of discouragement and set-backs and rejections and gray sky days and the temptation to throw your computer out the top window of a thirteen story building.

You write in your journal. You enter contests. You send out queries. You jot down ideas on table napkins and church bulletins or the back of your electric bill. You trade critiques with other writers and keep working on ways to make your story or poem or article better than it was before.

You do it for love.

You do it for the love of creating order and meaning and beauty with words.

You do it because you have been given a gift, and you want to give back.

You do it in spite of everything. You do it anyway.

Here's to you, faithful word smith!