Thursday, January 31, 2008

Don't forget the map!

T minus 1 and counting! FEBO begins in less than 12 hours. I am giddy with excitement, because I am expecting big changes in my life.

If you missed the previous posts, you may be thinking, That sounds great, but. . . . . . . .

What the heck IS FEBO?

(If you already know about FEBO, you can skip this section!)

Good question. FEBO is a chance for prodigal writers to come back home and start writing again. It's a chance to turn a new page--literally and figuratively--to make a new beginning by applying some discipline to your writing life. Would you like to write 10 minutes a day like NancyE? Do you want to tackle a children's book like Marmot Mom? Do you want to finish the novel you started for NaNoWriMo, like Peaches? Do you want to do something instead of nothing in February? Then this is the place for you.

It's so simple. You set your own goals--small and manageable or big and grandiose. To write five minutes a day. To write and mail one query letter each week. Or to write a complete novel by February 29th. Or you can set a new goal every week or every day. It's up to you. What FEBO provides is a small community of writers who are doing the same thing--setting goals and reaching them, one page, one sentence, one day at a time.

Plan to Succeed

I am reading a great book about writing a book. It's called Chapter after Chapter, and it's written by Heather Sellers. She says that a good technique to use to keep yourself on track is to PLAN each night for the next day's writing. "Writing a book is exactly like traveling in a country you don't know well. What do you do in a bed in a new country before you fall asleep? Look at maps. Orient yourself. Memorize the landscape, the roads, the route you will take. . . ."

So what is my plan for tomorrow? I intend to read every word of my SMO (Sprawling Magnum Opus) of a children's book (about 30,000 words), editing as I go. Then I'm going to think about how to best introduce the characters and setting to the readers. If I don't lure them in with a good opening, they won't read the rest. Right now I think the beginning is what's killing it. I've made a new copy of the manuscript, so that if I mess anything up, I won't destroy what I've already done. I've got a plan and, Lord willing and the creek don't rise, I'm ready to go on the first day of FEBO.

What's YOUR plan for tomorrow's writing?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A Timely Word for the FEBO Writers: Daily Writing Practice

3. . .2. . .1. . .We're almost there. FEBO begins in just two days. There's still time to set some writing goals for the month of February and to join us in reaching our goals.

Here's a timely post from a FEBO participant. . . .

Hi, I'm NancyE, and I'm a member of The Writing Academy and of the St. Davids Christian Writers Conference. For both of these organizations, I have given a presentation on Daily Writing Practice. The concept is inspired by various writers-on-writing, particularly Natalie Goldberg. Her "rules" are in her book Writing Down the Bones. She recommends writing 10 minutes every day--and she suggests doing this for a whole year before starting on more ambitious writing projects. She and other writers say they continue with the daily practice even after they are regularly publishing writers--it's a way of warming up for the day's work!

I embarked on the practice and kept it up for a year. Yes, I did 365 daily writings--though sometimes I fudged a bit and let a daily writing do double duty, like brainstorming for something else I had to write. Since I don't like so-many-minutes, my guideline was "12 pt. Times New Roman, space-and-a-half spacing, no less than one page and no more than two." (I discovered I could do a page in 20 minutes.) As Patty says, we can make our own rules!

The truth, though, is that I had an ulterior purpose in my year of daily writings. I was "getting ready to start to commence to begin" (as my sister-in-law used to say) writing my memoir. After the year was up, I decided to move on to "starting to commence to begin." This stage, however, is not only vaguely defined, it has not proved to be a regular "practice."

So these are my two resolves for February: To do Daily Writings again (that's 29)--AND to write the beginning of my memoir. I'm not specifying how much "the beginning" will be, in number of pages or words--just "write the beginning."

If anyone is interested, I can share some of the suggestions and prompts for Daily Writing Practice from my presentations!

Happy Writing to everyone,

Monday, January 28, 2008

All I can say is. . . . .

Duh, I'm such a ditz.

Not to mention a newb at blogging. I forgot that I had set comments to "moderate," so four people made posts that I didn't find until tonight. So sorry. I'm still learning.

On top of that, I didn't write one word today. Not one lousy little word. Not even a or the or of. (Okay, I wrote my name on a withdrawal slip at the bank, but I don't think that counts.) I had such great intentions, but then my hubby came down with the flu, and all my carefully-made, color-coded plans went out the window. But tomorrow is another day.

Meanwhile I'm thrilled that other writers are joining me in FEBO, because, to be truthful, misery loves company. Yes, the misery of facing a blank page or a blank screen with an equally blank mind and somehow wresting words out of the nothingness. I have been such an erractic, do-it-when-it-feels-good writer, and I want to change. I want more discipline. (And some would be more!) I want to get to the point that a day without writing just feels wrong. I want to get my stuff off my hard drive and into the hands of my readers (whoever those poor tortured souls may be. . . .)

Three more days until FEBO. Three more days until change.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Please Cheat. . . .Honestly!

Well, Febbies. . .we're in the one week countdown to Armegeddon. . . um, I mean FEBO. Yes, FEBO--that world-shaking web event that asks writers to make some goals and then set out on the adventure of reaching those goals in the month of February.

World-shaking? PattyK, you're thinking, let's not go getting delusions of grandeur. You don't have to take off your shoes to count the number of participants. FEBO is small potatoes. You don't even have tee shirts.

Ahhhh, the world-at-large may be blissfully unaware of FEBO, but frankly, I don't care because the world I want to shake is mine! I want to change my habits so that I can get back to DOING the thing I claim to love to do. . .writing. If I start small and stick with it, maybe someday I'll actually shake up THE world!

With one week to go, how should we prepare for FEBO? Replace those worn out ink or toner cartridges? Set cell phones to vibrate? Stockpile tea bags and chocolate?

If you've ever done NaNoWriMo--or tried to do it--you know the rules. Absolutely no writing before November. You can think about your characters or outline your plot or sharpen your pencils, but must be written before November 1. And that's a really great idea. . . .for NaNo.

FEBO isn't like that because YOU are making the rules.

My FEBO goal is to spend two hours a day writing, five days a week. My pre-FEBO goal is to spend at least 15 minutes a day writing, just to prime my pump and get my feet wet. So next week I'm going to practice for FEBO with that simple goal. Some purists might call that "cheating," but I think it's hard to cheat when I'm making my own rules. And I encourage each one of you to cheat too!

Come on. You know you want to!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Many Faces of Febo

People write for a lot of different reasons, and you can use FEBO in a lot of different ways.

You may want to write in an all-out frenzy--in the style of NaNoWriMo--to see how many words you can crank out in February. Then looking back, you'll be able to say, "Wow, look at what I can do when I put my mind to it (and dope myself up on high test caffiene)!" If that is your goal, knock yourself out. Some of you have said that you might want to finish the project you started in NaNo. And Peaches suggested that we might need to do "MARMO" to edit all the stuff we write during FEBO. Peaches is a visionary, and I believe she is going to do great things in FEBO. :~)

Or you may want to think of FEBO not as a gut-wrenching sweat-bath of a sprint, but as the beginning of a long distance race. You may want to set smaller goals that you can continue for the long haul. One Febbie said that she would like to write an encouraging word to somebody every day. You may want to set your timer for 15 minutes a day. Imagine what 15 minutes a day would add up to in a year. (And being math challenged I'll have to just imagine it. . . .)

You may want to set a goal of trying to market the stuff you've already written. Llama Momma (love the name!) wants to do an essay or article for publication once a week. Or maybe you don't want to write for publication but rather for self discovery, as in journaling or letter writing or blogging. I would love to see someone working on a family history project for FEBO. There are just so many possibilities.

So pick a project (the Great American Novel) or a time limit (10 minutes a day) or a word count (6000 words a week) or a goal (to become rich & famous by March 1st). And make plans to join us on Feb. 1st, one week from (gasp!) tomorrow!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


FEBO is growing fast. Our numbers have already DOUBLED. . .from one to two. At this rate, we could reach maybe seven before February 1st. At least, a girl can dream. . . . . :~)

Febo is simply my attempt to get some discipline (ouch, it hurts to say the word) into my writing.

Donna Alice has set some good concrete goals. I prefer to keep mine more nebulous, so that it's harder for people to say I didn't achieve them! Yes, that's what I would prefer, but for FEBO, I'm going to bravely follow in Donna's footsteps and set some measurable goals. Oh, the pain! The injustice! The damage to my delicate artistic temperament!

Yeah, whatever.



It's like Lent for writers--a special season of discipline to achieve a higher purpose and form new habits. Like writing instead of talking about writing, dreaming about writing, blogging about writing. . . . ooops, bad example. Just forget I said that.

Why February?

Seriously, what else is there to do in February?

How Do I Join this Ground-Breaking Global Effort?

Just do it. Set your writing goal or goals and then make a real effort to follow through, knowing you'll be among friends. Feel free to leave a post and say that you're going to give Febo a try.

Now, the only question remaining is. . . .What life-changing writing goals are YOU considering for FEBO?

Saturday, January 19, 2008

FEBO is coming. . . . . . .

February--the ickiest time of the year--when winter has hung around way too long to be amusing any more. A month so mind-numbing that someone invented Groundhog Day, just to break the monotony. But this year--in 2008--February is going to be different, at least on this side of the window pane.

I'm a big fan of NaNoWriMo, a program that encourages writers everywhere to write a novel in the month of November. The idea is to write 50,000 words in 30 days -- focusing on quantity, not quality. I participated in 2006, and wrote about 27,000 words before I had to quit because of other obligations--but hey--I did write 27,000 words I otherwise would not have written. In November,2007, we were packing up to move, so I didn't even attempt NaNo.

For me the problem with NaNo is the No part. November is usually an insanely busy month. So this year I decided to do FEBO (pronounced FEB-bo). At first I was going to try writing a novel in February. Then I realized that just writing anything would be a big step out of the Slough of Despond I've been wallowing in.

What I'd like to accomplish in February is to set some reasonable regular writing or marketing goals and then discipline myself to do them for one month. The hope is that I will change my routine so that writing becomes a priority. I'll know that FEBO was a success if I'm still writing/submitting regularly in March, April, and September.

At the moment I'm thinking that my goal will be to do writing or marketing for two hours a day, five days a week. But maybe that's too big, too daunting. I may change my mind and set a different goal before February 1st.

I'm inviting other writers to join me. NOT to join me in having the same goal but to set YOUR OWN goal and work toward it. Of course, some of you are already really disciplined and don't need this. But if you're like me and you would like some company while trying to establish a discipline of writing, you are welcome to join FEBO!


1. Set a goal for writing/marketing in February--a chapter a day, a poem a week, five query letters for the month, ten minutes of free writing every Wednesday . . . . . .

2. Share your goals with the group and expect some gentle mutual accountability.

3. Work toward your goals, sharing victories and problems with the group if you wish.

Encourage yourself and others. Under NO circumstances are you to beat yourself up about not reaching a goal. Revise your goals if they aren't working. Or simply start fresh the next day.

I'm setting up this blog to create a way for the FEBO writers (all three of us???) to communicate and commiserate.

So let me ask this question of all potential FEBO participants. What TYPE of writing goal most appeals to you? So many words or pages a day? A certain amount of time each week? Something loosey-goosey and not too demanding? Something really sadistic and challenging? Working a new project? Editing something you've already written? Marketing the novel that's collecting dust on top of the filing cabinet?