May Motivation

The A to Z Challenge got me into a habit and I don’t want to break it. Writing every day feels good. But how do I carry that into May? First, I missed participating in the writing prompts I follow. I enjoy them; I believe they have improved my writing and some of the photos are screaming at me to tell the story they invoke.

Then there is the half-written novel nagging at me to write an ending. The plan in my head is crazy big, even bigger than the April A to Z.

Are you ready?

Photo credit: HockeyBroad via Visual hunt / CC BY-NC-ND

     Goal #1: Catch up on the writing prompts I missed during April.

     Goal #2: Continue with the writing prompts for May.

     Goal #3: Write 1,000 words a day on the novel.

Numbers 1 & 2 are do-able by themselves and number 3 by itself is also achievable. All three of them together, along with the 9 to 5 and the rest of my life?  That’s another story. That’s the challenge.

I might be certifiably crazy. Still, I bet I score more goals than the Blackhawks in the playoffs.

How about you? What are your plans for May?


Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer


photo by Clem Onojehungo via Unsplash

photo by Clem Onojehungo via Unsplash

The chance of a lifetime required the performance of a lifetime.

A commitment of heart, soul, everything that was, distilled to its essence.

The hope, the dream, is now in the can.


From Sonya’s 3LineTales at Only100Words. You can find the original prompt here. Thanks Sonya.

Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

The Gift – Warm Up Exercise

Photo credit: Heredero 3.0 via Visualhunt /  CC BY-NC-ND

Photo credit: Heredero 3.0 via Visualhunt / CC BY-NC-ND

I looked at the fuzzy box she had laid in my hands. It was the color of dried blood, old and grimy. I imagined that it must carry some disease.

“Open it,” She croaked.

Cringing, I pried the two halves apart. Nestled in more blood-red fabric lay something I had never seen. It was smooth and shiny black. Gold bands of various sizes, some decorated, some plain, circled the blackness.

“What is it?”

She snatched it from the box. With both hands, she gave it several twists before pulling the two ends apart. One end was a hollowed-out tube. It concealed an elaborately carved gold point which was attached to the end of other half of the black stick.

I pulled back, frightened by the deadly looking thing. I watched as she caressed it, fitting the hollowed-out tube on top of the end opposite from the gold point. She began to roll it in one gnarled hand as if she had done this all her life.

“What does it do?”

She sat silently. I had seen her like this before. There was no point in saying anything else until the memory that held her mind, released her.

“Do you remember? Syngraféas.”

I couldn’t tell if she was talking to me or her memory.

“You made me read all his stuff,” I answered anyway.

“This belonged to him. And to a long line of Mór Guardians before him. You have read them too, the others who owned this. All of them, the best of their age.” As she spoke she raised her hand to her eyes, staring at it.

“You are talented. The best I have seen in over a hundred years. He told me I would know. You asked me for my secret. How I create the stories millions read. Syngraféas was my mentor. He gave this to me when I was very young. Not long before he died.”

She paused, lowered her hand to her lap and turned her gaze to me. For some reason, I was very afraid.

“It was forbidden you know. Long ago, when people were only allowed to read what was sanctioned. And so, they forgot. Only the bravest kept the craft alive. Slowly, we became revered, the Guardians. You remember the tale of the Fountain?”

I swallowed hard. I knew it well.

“Yes, the Fountain is the source of all great stories.”

“And…” she prompted.

“And only one who is deemed worthy is permitted access to the Fountain,” I repeated the line all novices were required to learned.

“Are you worthy?” she asked as her eyes looked into my very soul.

“Me?” I whispered.

Her laughter crackled like dry leaves in the wind. With both hands, she raised the black and gold object high above her head.

“Behold the Pen of the Fountain.”

Once again, her eyes found mine.

“Prepare yourself. Tomorrow it will determine if you are worthy.”


Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

The Lesson – Warm Up Exercise

Photo credit: apintogsphotos via Visual hunt /  CC BY-NC-ND

Photo credit: apintogsphotos via Visual hunt / CC BY-NC-ND

“Go practice,” Mother repeated.

“I’ll do it later.”

“No. Now.”


Mother’s face was stern as she pointed to the bedroom where the trombone waited.

The door slammed followed by an angry blast from the instrument. Mother sighed as strains of practice music filtered through the closed door. She picked up her book, searching for where she had left off. As she began reading, a sour note jolted her from the passage.

The playing stopped. When it resumed, she returned to her book until the same note stopped her again. Time after time, the same sour note grated at her. Throwing the book on the chair, she headed to the bedroom and flung open the door.

“What in the world…” her voice trailed off as she glanced around the room.

The trombone lay on the bed while music filled the air. Her darling child, was playing a video game.

“Where is that music coming from?”

A finger pointed to a cell phone.

She snatched it from the desk.

“You really need to practice. You can’t get this note right,” she pointed at the phone just as the offensive note was repeated. She left the room and trombone practice finally began.


Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

A Little Experiment

Call me Guinea Pig.

Photo credit: wcn247 via / CC BY-NC

Photo credit: wcn247 via / CC BY-NC

Over the last few months I have been on a quest to discover the right process, the right combination of factors to produce a known and quantifiable result. To be precise I have been searching for the method I need to employ to get my first draft completed.

I have been doing the normal things you do when you start out, tracking number of words written, duration of writing and any comments on the writing period. The results at first were great. But you must account for the initial euphoria that ensues with anything new and exciting.

At the same time, I was studying other processes people employ in various disciplines. From those observations one thing emerged which ran across all types of disciplines. Except writing. That one thing was a warm up. Professionals tended to utilized some type of warm up prior to beginning the real work. Athletes, musicians, singers, painters, photographers, they all did a warm up before they started the real task in front of them. The warm up looked different for each of them, but it was there.


I also happened across a program that delved into how habits are formed. One telling comment stated that the most productive people have developed cues which trigger a habit allowing them to go thru the day without having to make real decisions.

How can I apply these seemingly different ideas to my writing? How do writers warm up? How can I set up a writing cue? Will doing any of this matter? Since I had been tracking my daily word count I could do something interesting. I overlaid the days I had posted to the blog with the daily word count and an interesting pattern began to emerge.

On days with an initial blog post prior to writing, the word count was generally higher than on days without a blog post. On days where the word count was not appreciably higher, the trend was that it took less time to write the same quantity of words.

Photo via Visualhunt

Photo via Visualhunt

As with any light bulb moment, it raised more questions. Is a small writing piece really a “warm up” for writers? Can it be used as a cue to trigger the mental coding of a habit? Does the duration of the “warm up” significantly impact the number of words or the length of time to write those words? Does publishing to the blog have an impact? Is it a matter of how many words are written in the “warm up” or is it simply the “warm up” itself that triggers the habit? How do I tailor this for me?

These are my initial thoughts i.e. the experiment. I like writing to a photo prompt, so I will use a photo as my jumping off point. I will not specify any format or word count. Applying the K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid) algorithm it will be photo prompt, write, track, write on draft, track.

Let the experiment begin.

Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

Sheer Terror

Photo credit: _parrish_ via Visualhunt /  CC BY-NC

Photo credit: _parrish_ via Visualhunt / CC BY-NC

Some nights I wake up screaming.

The nightmare has come again to taunt me. Who in the world do I think I am? Declaring myself to be a writer. Declaring that I am going to be a published author. Presuming that I am good. What if I fail? Sheer terror consumes me.

What if I fail?

The thought is inconceivable. I have too much riding on this endeavor. Too many people to prove wrong. Too much to prove to myself. “I can’t fail” whispers the clam and measured voice. There is a plan and I am working the plan. Every day. The story has become a part of every atom within me. I feel anxious if a day passes and I am not able to press fingers to the keyboard to move the story to the page.

The basis of optimism is sheer terror. — Oscar Wilde

Now I am an optimist it seems. There is no way I can fail in my goal. The story is being written. I will revise and edit and rewrite to ensure that it is good. It will be published and I will write another and another.

Last week I only managed to add 2,500 words to my slowly increasing total. It doesn’t feel like nearly enough, but it is more than I had last week. Review the plan. Work the plan.

Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

Knocked Out

Photo credit: via VisualHunt / CC BY-NC-SA

Photo credit: via VisualHunt / CC BY-NC-SA

Getting stuck sucks. Some would say that I have failed in achieving my writing goals.

Here’s the question:

“My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with failure.” – Abraham Lincoln

The answer: I might be down but I am not out. I won’t be content until I finish what I have set out to do. This is what I have managed:

  • Monday research and a little writing, a whopping total of 200 words.
  • Tuesday more research and few more words. 330 words to be exact.
  • Wednesday got me another 400 words.

Then there was yesterday. A little bit of fact checking and word count of just over 1,100. In the last four days I have added just over 2,000 words to the total. It’s not much. But the story is now demanding that I get fingers on the keyboard.

Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer


Things are not going as planned.

untitled-7Part of the issue might be that I needed to figure out the next progression of the story. That took some time and the solution demanded that I do some additional research. Research is often a rabbit hole that sucks you in and only releases you after hours of trekking through the labyrinth. It is done now and the information that I found fits well in the story.

Then I had a computer Snafu and I lost some words. I do save and back up often, but sometimes these things happen. It wasn’t many words and I was able to go in and recreate what I had written, but it was a little discouraging all the same.

I have also been dealing with a lingering cough. A cough that from time to time insists that one of my lungs can be dislodged from my body. The struggle to prove the cough wrong leaves me lightheaded and weak. Prime condition for getting more words written, wouldn’t you agree?

The result is that I have only added about 3,000 words to my total. That too is discouraging, since I had wanted to finish this by the end of the month. With numbers like that it is easy to feel like a failure.

But failure is not an option, I will get this draft finished.

Today I begin again.

Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

In Defense of Procrastination

Photo credit: RussellReno via Visualhunt / CC BY-NC

Photo credit: RussellReno via Visualhunt / CC BY-NC

Procrastination is not all bad. Especially when it is done well.

Today nothing I attempted could get me to sit down and write. A problem with how to proceed with the story resulted in a mega case of consternation and I didn’t have the answer. Nothing I had come up with felt authentic to the story.

I could have continued banging my head on the keyboard or wasted time surfing the net during my “writing” time. Instead I embraced my desire to procrastinate. Yep, turn on the music and completely ignore the writing full blown procrastination. I was determined to do anything and everything other than write.

Boy, did I get a lot done!

Every week I have a list of things to accomplish during the week. As of right now, more than half of them have been marked off the list. D-O-N-E, done. I also managed to get a few things done that were not even on the list. How cool is that? I have found that there is nothing like a little indulgence in avoidance to get me moving and shaking. I don’t want to write so I will go clean the kitchen. Darn that’s done, should I go write? No way Jose. How can you write when there is laundry to do? Laundry done, well then let’s go make a tasty desert. You get the picture.

The funny thing was that even as I pointedly avoided my story and the real issue, the little do-gooder in my brain was having none of it. Behind the scenes where I couldn’t see, someone was going over the list of possibilities while I sang to the music and scrubbed dishes.

Suddenly, little miss goody two-shoes slapped me in the face with the solution.

Viva Procrastination! I really do need to read that book someday.

Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades

Photo credit: Pensiero via Visual hunt / CC BY-NC-ND

Photo credit: Pensiero via Visual hunt / CC BY-NC-ND

Yesterday I dusted off my crystal ball and saw some amazing things.

Lists are king. At least in my world they are. They are how I get things done, keep track of all the minor details and have all the ingredients I need to fix a wonderful meal without having to go back to the store because I forgot something. To say that I am a list junkie is a bit of an understatement, but they do keep me focused. They are also a bit of a ritual.

I don’t make New Year resolutions per se. Instead I make out a list of all the things I want to accomplish in the coming year and I don’t stop there. That list then gets prioritized and broken down into Little Goals and Big Goals. Little Goals are things I can get done in a couple of days to a couple of weeks. Big Goals are those things that take much longer, months, years even. Big Goals are treated much differently than Little Goals.

First, I only take on one Big Goal at a time. This is the thing that I will spend 80% of my time working on. Everything else gets the remaining 20%. You see the key to my lists is that I want to get things D-O-N-E, done. In the past, I have tried working on multiple Big Goals and nothing seems to ever get done. There is a reason for that. It has to do with time and the perception of success.

Consider the table below. Say I have 160 hours to work on my goals in a month. So, working on five goals that each take a month to complete if I work on them evenly, I will be 20% done with each goal at the end of the first month. At the end of five months all five goals are 100% complete. In theory.


But I will guarantee you, I know how my little pea brain works and by the end of Month #2, I will have given up on a couple of them. Working this way, I will be lucky to have two of the goals 100% complete by Month #5.

Now consider this table.


Same five goals that each take a month to complete. But here I only work on one goal in the first month. At the end of the month I have one goal D-O-N-E, done. Success! Then the same thing happens in Month #2, D-O-N-E, done. Success! Using this approach I am a goal obliterating superstar! At the end of Month #5 you had better believe that all five goals will be 100% complete. (Since I am a now a goal obliterating superstar I may have even added a goal or two.)

They say success breeds success and I am here to tell you that is absolutely correct. So, what happens when the one Big Goal that I am working on is going to take five months? Easy Pease. I just break that down into what I want to accomplish in each of the five months.

And then I take it one step further. Those monthly goals are broken down by week and day. Just like with Nano. How do you write 50,000 words in one month? You schedule to write 1,667 words every day. In theory.

I know that I am not a machine and there is no way I am going to be able to keep up with that schedule. Life gets in the way and your best friend who you haven’t seen in ages comes to spend the weekend. Do you think I am going to tell her “No”, “Don’t come I have to write 1,667 words”? Absolutely not. She is going to come and we will be up past our normal bedtimes doing girl stuff and I won’t write a word.

To make sure that life can happen and I still reach my goals, I schedule buffers, and catch-up days. For Nano I scheduled 2,500 words per day for 20 days. Still very do-able, and it gave me 10 days for life and to catch-up on those days that I couldn’t come up with even 500 words.

Yesterday’s gaze into the crystal ball reached well into 2019. Three whole years! Amazing! To get there I must take care of what is on the list for today. What happens in the future depends on what I do today.

Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer