I recently accepted a work-for-hire assignment with a low word count and remembered all over again how those word counts can be a blessing and a curse. Yesterday, it felt like the latter as I struggled to figure out how to say what needed to be said without going over the chapter word limit. Today I didn’t even have the enthusiasm to open the project and instead opted to do some much needed spring cleaning. (Who am I?!) When I finished mopping, I took a shower.

Image by Fifaliana Joy from Pixabay


As is often the case with knotty writing issues, something about standing under the water allowed me to see the path forward. I now know exactly how to handle that info in a way that does not violate the word count limit. Tomorrow I shall resume work.

Twofer Tuesday: goat therapy

I gave myself the day off and spent it in bed reading adult fiction (Tana French’s THE WITCH ELM). Self-care without guilt. Write my 1,000 words? Only if it felt right. I wasn’t going to butt heads with myself and turn it into a negative situation.

Photo by Hans Lindgren from Pexels

I’m happy to say I’m now in the head-space to crank out my daily word count. Thank you to these adorable goats for their role in helping me get there. And now I’m off to write . . .

In search of momentum

Yikes, I missed one day of writing and am now suffering an acute case of Lost Momentum. Per my NaNoWriMo goals (45,000 words in 45 days), I need to get a minimum of 1,700 words down today if I’m to remain on schedule.

*sob* That feels like SO. MANY. WORDS.

*deep breath* Here I go, getting started. This is me, starting. One-two-three, write! Come on, Tracy, you can do it!

Black-billed Magpie in neighbor’s yard. August 29, 2019.

*exhale* Even though completing my words feels less likely than the magpie pushing that wheelbarrow, I’m going to write those 1,700 words. Right now. Truly.

Sunday Confessional: writing under pressure

As I walked into my writing room this afternoon, determined to add 1,000 words to my new project, I felt pretty good about facing another day’s word count. Because not only am I keeping pace with my NaNoWriMo goals, I’m a wee bit ahead of schedule. But when I saw the prism-created light display around my computer, my confidence evaporated. Instant pressure!

November 15, 2020

What if my words didn’t shine? What if they landed on the page, cold and lifeless? How would I possibly produce anything approaching this level of magical? Waaaah.

Fast forward to a couple minutes ago when I closed my Scrivener file after adding 1,000 words to the story. Are those words cold and lifeless? Absolutely not. Are they shiny? Some of them, yes. Magical? Only time will tell. The only things I know for sure are that I met my goal, the pretty lights have vanished along with the sun behind the foothills, and I’m grateful I didn’t cave to the pressure.

NaNoWriMo winner here!

Yesterday I made the decision to crash-land my manuscript rather than agonize over the ending. As a result, I wrote 3700+ words in order to achieve 50k words and be free of the NaNoWriMo intensity that felt as if it was destroying my body and melting my brain. Kidding. Except, not really.

Here’s the certificate that landed in my inbox after  I validated my novel:

And here’s my Project Target counter at the end of that writing session:

I plan to celebrate in the coming week or so by doing two things:

  1. NOT writing
  2. Reading, reading, reading



Thankful Thursday: friendly NaNo nudge edition

Today I’m thankful for critique partner and friend, Laura Perdew, who encouraged me to try NaNoWriMo this year. I’m positive I wouldn’t even have considered fast-drafting if she hadn’t suggested NaNo as the cure for my exceedingly slooow outlining and drafting of this new project.

Today is the halfway point for NaNo and here’s what I’ve accomplished thus far:

I’m more than halfway to my target of 52,169 words for November (I’d already written 2,169 words and didn’t want to “cheat” on achieving 50,000 words in 30 days so included them in my final draft target). I am thrilled. Absolutely over the moon with my progress. Hooray! Etc.  🙂

It’s amazing what I can accomplish once I banish my internal editor to a corner with tape over her mouth.

Sunday Confessional: sometimes I want to head for shore

It’s Day Eleven of NaNoWriMo and while I’ve managed to achieve my word count each day (a minimum of 1700 words), I’m still susceptible to panic and overwhelm. For example, yesterday as I drove home from my solo writing retreat in Estes Park I wasn’t congratulating myself on the progress I’d made. Instead, I worried that I hadn’t yet found my narrator’s true voice. Then I switched to agonizing over my “too many plot lines” I’d never be able to connect, followed by the certainty that my first draft was such an irredeemable mess it would take years to revise the manuscript into anything coherent.

I felt like a poser. I wanted to run away from the whole thing.

Those feelings mirror what it’s like when I stand in the ocean and watch a huge wave come my way. I experience a slew of emotions. Panic. Exhilaration. Awe. Fear.  An urge to run for shore.

While I frequently do run from big waves, I don’t like to run from my writing commitments. So this morning when I woke with those same angsty feelings, I looked for some online support and wisdom to help me reel in negative thoughts about my first draft. I found this:  7 Things NOT to Worry About During Your First Draft

All my worries are addressed in that article which makes me think I’m not the first writer in history to freak out about her shitty first draft. Newsflash, huh?

Today I continue working on my NaNo project. And as the words add up I have those same big-wave feelings I experience when I choose to dive into the wave and then come out the other side. Exhilaration. Pride. Awe.

The desire to do it again.

It’s my party and I’ll celebrate the way I want to

Today was Day One of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and I came here with the intent of posting an image that celebrated the 1900 words I wrote today (and, possibly more importantly, the fact that I wrote past my doubts and ended up having genuine fun working on those scenes). However, when I went to Pixabay in search of SUCCESS or CELEBRATION or HIGH-FIVE images, I found:

This photo makes me happy. I love cows and big nostrils and whiskers. Plus, my novel is set in Wisconsin. It’s practically written in the stars that I celebrate today’s work with a cow’s nose.

Like having a dream

For me, writing a novel is like having a dream.
Writing a novel lets me intentionally dream while I’m still awake.
I can continue yesterday’s dream today,
something you can’t normally do in everyday life.

~  Haruki Murakami


Writing a novel is a pretty cool gig, all right. Except for when the process turns nightmarish. Other than that, though, it’s a dream. Really.


Some Updates


A little over two weeks ago I shared the sad tale of my old juniper tree,
and today finally summoned the courage to call an arborist.  
He just left after telling me (1) the tree will survive and (2) there's nothing to be done
for another year or so except (3) to pray for forgiveness. I thought he meant the tree
forgiving me but realized he meant me forgiving  my neighbor.

I feel somewhat better although still cannot look at that old tree without flinching.
And tearing up.

In regards to my stuckness on my work-in-progress, this past weekend I printed out
everything I'd written so far (30k words!) and read it in one sitting.  After taking some notes,
I knew I needed to go back and rework some stuff before moving ahead. I'm struggling
with the rewrites but am no longer panicked that fixing stuff will slow my momentum
to the point that I'll never finish the draft.

I will finish this draft!  Hear, universe?

As for my web site, nothing's happening there. I still don't know how to proceed.
I guess two out of three ain't bad.

Now, here's a gratuitous squirrel shot:                                                                                                                                               Massively oversized image by Tracy Abell                                      

Word Count


I actually have no idea what my word count is right now
because I'm writing in chapter chunks and don't really care
about total word count.

All I know is I'm back in the 1000-words-per-day saddle
and it's the best thing happening for me these days.

I'm a little past the halfway point in this first draft
and I'm going to push on through to the end.
I hope to finish before our fall conference in a month
because then I'll show up there feeling like a champ.

You heard it here first, folks: Tracy is going to feel like a champ.

                                                                          image from morguefile.com
(For those pondering the significance of this image:
I went to morguefile.com and put "champ" into the search engine,
hoping I'd get the image of a boxer such as Muhammad Ali.
Nope. Only boxer dogs)


Day Four: JoNoWriMo+1.5

The work was fine today but not so much in the way I’d anticipated. I ended up adding fewer than my 400-word goal but that’s okay for two reasons: One, my count was more than 400 yesterday and combined with today’s word count I’m still on schedule for my final goal. Two, I figured out all sorts of stuff about the story and wrote three pages of notes.

I finally know the story with G’s mother! She’s not dead! She’s alive, she’s alive!
I understand why Mr. E is such a prickly personality when he’s around T.
I realized which character is the real rat bastard of the story.

Best of all, I found some needed inspiration while reading I’M A LEBOWSKI, YOU’RE A LEBOWSKI: LIFE, THE BIG LEBOWSKI, AND WHAT HAVE YOU (a fan book written for those of us who can’t get enough of the Coen brothers’ movie). It’s not rocket science but it was the perfect time for this particular slap upside my head (plus it came from an interview with the real-life Dude who inspired the character and movie). So what is the Dude’s explanation for the cult success of THE BIG LEBOWSKI? He points out that in all great comedy the situation gets progressively worse for the character(s).


Apparently Joel Coen writes a scene and makes it as difficult as he possibly can for the character. Then Ethan Coen rewrites it, making it worse. And then Joel makes it worse again.

Thanks. That had not occurred to me, Dude.

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
13,113 / 38,000

It’s baack!

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
8,760 / 38,000

I haven’t worked on my WIP since last Friday.

I’m also doing that withdraw-from-the-world-thing which is what I do when feeling glum.

So, I’m going to start posting my word count again in hopes of re-energizing my writing PLUS keep connected with my LJ community.

Hopefully it won’t all be blue meters on my part. Maybe I can sprinkle in posts of interest. And maybe I can finish the draft of this project. Again.

Who Cares?

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
3,645 / 38,000

So I’m creeping along on this project, reassuring myself that while the words are coming slowly, they are, for the most part, quality words. They are words that tell a story I care about and though I don’t spend much time thinking about potential readers, my gut tells me others will care about this story, too. And then just a moment ago, doubt started shouting at me from the wings, taunting me with “Yeah, well I bet Author X cared about his story, too, but that doesn’t mean anyone else would.”

Here’s the deal: I’m reading a YA right now written by a multi-published author I absolutely love and respect. He’s magic with the English language and writes emotions and humor and characters/stories so real you feel as if they’ve made camp in your solar plexus. And yet, as I read this book all I can think is “Yuck!” Not about the writing itself but toward the story and basic premise.

I haven’t read any reviews of this book because I always wait until after I’ve finished reading, but I gotta believe I’m not alone on the ick factor. So did Author X ever wonder if he’d be the only one to care about his story? And should he even waste time wondering?

I truly believe we write the stories we need to tell, so here are my questions: Have you read well-written books that made you wonder what could possibly have possessed the writer to tell that particular story? And if so, did you end up caring about the story?

Forward, March!

Not yet the plumpest manuscript but what I have so far feels solid. I think. We’ll see how it looks in the light of day but for now, I’m calling it progress.

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
3,137 / 38,000

JoNoWriMo+1.5 Update

Creeping along in the story. So grateful for that solid first chapter because it kept me on the beam today. I realized I was diverging from the story, recognizing that icky “huh?” feeling, and mercilessly deleted a couple rogue lines that had no place in the scene. Then I got back on track.

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
1,631 / 38,000

Back in the JoNoWriMo+1.5 Saddle, Baby!

I hit a rough patch in my WIP and then realized it was because I’d strayed from the narrator’s voice. I needed to anchor myself in that voice so I went back and worked and reworked my first chapter to my satisfaction. The Voice is back and I’m writing again! Gotta start over with the meter but that’s okay by me.

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
889 / 38,000