Friday miscellany: 500 words, and writing in general

On December 24, 2016, I went for a run. Over the next week or so, I managed to run every day. So then I thought, hey, why don't I keep going? I've now run at least a mile every day for the last 400-plus days. I know the streak can't continue indefinitely. Life happens, but I feel like it's been a good addition to my life. Exercise is a known mood booster, and so I'm getting a daily dose -- good for these frustrating and bleak February days. The streak changes the conversation I have with myself from "am I going to run?" to "when am I going to run?" The second question is a better one to be asking.

Anyway, since the running streak has been going well, I decided to try another one. On each weekday, I write at least 500 words of fiction. Unlike the running streak, I know this one will have to change. At some point I'll finish the novel I'm working on, and then I'll need to edit it. But until I get a draft, I'm writing 500 words per weekday.

I'm liking this streak too. 500 words is not that much. It's basically like a blog post, or a handful of emails. Some days, that's really all I can do. Other days, I set out to write 500 words and wind up with 1000. But either way, the next day I do it again. And slowly the novel takes shape. It's not a good novel, but it is a novel. And eventually I'll make it better. Or start on another one. Writers get better by writing. I've already built one kind of writing practice into my life with this blog. But fiction is a different beast, and I would like to get better at it. Which means I need to do it.

(A side note: I did roughly this same process for writing my time management fable/novella in November. I wrote 1000 words a day until momentum truly took over. I finished a draft in November, edited it in December, and have a contract in the works now. I am really excited about it -- coming to bookstores in February 2019!)

Now, back to my current next book. Off the Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done, comes out May 29 (here are links at Amazon, BN.com). I'm currently working through the "first pass" stage. I have the formatted manuscript printed up, and I'm checking the pages for any issues. I found one INCREDIBLY EMBARRASSING math error in the introduction. Wow. I have been sending out PDFs to get blurbs (those quotes on the back cover from people praising the book) and I want to write everyone and apologize for the error, lest they think I am an idiot. But, given that several in-house editors (and friends and relations) have read the manuscript and nobody noticed it, perhaps it is not nearly as obvious as I now see it as.

Other than the INCREDIBLY EMBARRASSING math error, I'm really liking the book. Like, I may have read it 100 times as of now, but I still like it. I hope you will too.

Other stuff in the works: this website is getting a makeover. The new version will showcase books and speaking (and the podcast!) a bit more prominently, but the blog will still be on the home page. If there is anything you've found frustrating about this version of the site, or anything you like and would like to keep, please let me know.

On the schedule this weekend: Our last wrestling meet of the season. A parents social for parents of fifth graders (I'm looking forward to that one). Studying the samples I picked up in my contractor's show room yesterday. Unlike on HGTV, it turns out renovations don't actually happen in 42 minutes plus commercials! (The contractor had some HGTV-mocking cartoons on his bulletin board, which I enjoyed). I am getting quite the geology lesson. We were going to do quartz countertops, but I kind of liked the way granite looks more, so now I need to take a field trip to a granite yard to look at actual slabs in the wild. I went to a quarry as part of a geology class I took in college and I never knew I'd be dealing with this again in the context of my kitchen counters.

Photo: A re-run from the writing retreat in July.

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12 Responses to Friday miscellany: 500 words, and writing in general


  1. Linda M says:

    Be sure to keep the archives when you update the web site.

  2. Liz says:

    I’ve been hoping to get myself into a streak of exercise for so long! I suffered from a skiing injury years and years ago, then had 3 kids, which aside from a broken tailbone and hernia took the athlete out of me for a bit to say the least. Recently, I’ve been trying to remember that athlete in me, and get motivated daily to do what’s not really motivating: the roller exercises it will take consistency to do, to start my path back to the actual exercise that will make me feel like an athlete again. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no professional athlete, but I realized somewhere along the way that my physical fitness, health and abilities are a part of my identity that I really love. And a part that’s been missing in my life since I had 3 kids. Been wondering if putting “exercise” into blocks in my calendar will make a difference, as I’ve put them there before and ignored them entirely. Any suggestions for how to get to that habit point will be greatly appreciated! I’m putting it all out there and really want to move forward! Thanks!

    • Marthe says:

      Hi Liz! Good job for putting it all out there!
      Iโ€™m thinking:
      – do those roller exercises first thing in the morning when your motivation muscle is still fit
      – involve your kids and/or make it fun orherwise (play instead of exercise), try out new things because that will shake up your thinking about exercise
      – really plan for a specific type of exercise in your calendar, so include travel time, the adresss, getting dressed time, errands you can do while driving there, child care oe occupation you will need during the exercise (also when doing a dvd at home), et cetera. Eliminate excuses you might have when the moment arrives.
      Good luck with becoming an athlete again!

      • @Marthe and Liz – I find that tracking is helpful for me. I like seeing my word count go higher. I write down my runs (distance, any other notes) and I like seeing that list get longer. I like seeing my list of books read get longer. Maybe if you made a check list for the foam roller and re-hab exercises, and then gave yourself a check mark you might enjoy that?

  3. Dominique says:

    It would be great if the individual blog posts had a way to go back and forth to the previous blog post and the next blog post. Currently, I just open all of the new posts in new tabs, but having the back and forth buttons would be more efficient.

    • Anne says:

      Agreed !

  4. Morana says:

    I’m sure nobody noticed incredibly embarrassing math error. People overlook the craziest things sometimes. On one of my first projects out of school my office was taking over a house design done by a famous published architect. It was reviewed in his office, by client and local jurisdictions and even received a planning permit. After looking over the drawings I had to point out to everyone that the staircase was completely blocking the front door and there was no way to enter the building – and nobody noticed this.
    And while we’re on the topic of architecture, quartz is a much more resilient material because it’s a composite, if you like look of granite but want practicality of quartz, look at Cambria Quartz. Good luck with the remodel, GCs always estimate that residential projects will go 30% over both schedule and budget. And don’t get me started on HGTV.

  5. Sara says:

    I like the simple yet professional organization of this website. It highlights the substance, and weird and annoying things don’t happen when one navigates it. For example, when one clicks back to a main page after reading a particular post, one isn’t sent to the top of the page, but to the exact spot one left. Thanks for that.

    • Sara says:

      Also, the # of posts per page (5) is about right. I can see going up to 6 or 7, but 5 is fine.

      Some people might like more bells and whistles in a website, but I prefer the clean, crisp, clutter-free nature of sites like this, were I can read and find things without much effort and without being subjected to excessive visual stimulation.

  6. Kathleen Layman says:

    We are just finishing a kitchen remodel. Cambria quartz was our final selection and itโ€™s beautiful. I doubt you want to seal and re-seal granite with 4 kids or worry about acidic spills (juice, vinegar, wine). Engineered quartz cannot withstand sudden heat shock, but I never put hot pans on the countertop anyway. Use a bread board under hot appliances, such as crockpot, and quartz is a lifetime, fuss-free choice.

  7. Kelsey says:

    I would LOVE to know what that math error was ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • @Kelsey- if you must know… it was how many years of life the CDC tables say I have left. Simple enough subtraction problem. I guess in my mind I’m just a lot younger than I actually am!

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