It’s January. There is snow and ice outside. No holidays to stress over, no houseguests to entertain, just Fergus and me hunkered down, keeping each other warm. This month is my personal CCNoWriMo (“CC’s Novel Writing Month”).

Back in November (the Official NaNoWriMo), I referenced my disdain at the Powers That Be who decided November – a month loaded with holiday expectations and preparations – was a time when writers have nothing better to do than just bang out a novel.

Sure enough, I wasn’t able to stick with it in November, or December, but I made a personal commitment to myself at that time that I would devote as much of January as possible to working on Winter’s Thaw (book two in our series, and the one I’m responsible for shepherding to completion). KR, SA and I have a schedule! We have established milestones! I’ve missed them all!

Still, it’s January. It’s a New Year. Time for a fresh start. With few exceptions, I have spent some hours every day in my Snug¹ writing, editing, researching, randomly working on other things, and – the new effort I agreed to for this month – beta reading another writer’s manuscript.

Here’s what I’ve found out: just planting my butt in my chair and working on something gives me the discipline I need to work on Winter’s Thaw diligently. I make sure that WT gets at least an hour of my time during every visit to the Snug.

The beta reading has been a wonderful exercise. It’s not easy, let me say. However, it’s an honor, and a compliment, to be asked to read another writer’s manuscript before the book is launched into the world. It’s helping me hone my skills at reading, not just for content but for structure, plot and character development. I’m evaluating how another writer crafts dialogue and balances dialogue with narration, and that informs my own craft. While I’ve been specifically asked to leave grammatical commentary for others, such as the editor, it is nevertheless an opportunity to sharpen my recognition of the rules of grammar and punctuation that I transfer directly to my own writing. In short, spending an hour or more a day beta reading warms up my writing “muscles” and the work on WT has benefited.

Don’t get too excited, though. While I’ve logged thousands of words for my own manuscript, I’m nowhere near the 50,000 words NaNoWriMo sets as a monthly goal. And that’s alright. I’m happy with the progress and the quality. Plus, I’ve been working with a bit of a handicap for a couple of weeks – my eyes! My eyes! It’s an allergy, I think, and it’s happened before but only in winter. Can a person be allergic to cold air? Anyway, they itch, they burn, they’re bloodshot, they’re swollen almost shut. I look like a cross between a turkey buzzard and a raccoon.






Just as it starts to get better, they flare up again. They’re overwrought right now, so I’m going to have to wrap this up. If there’s a point to this blog post, it’s that:

  • It’s okay to re-evaluate one’s goals and reset or adjust when necessary
  • Be kind to yourself when your path to success diverges from what you planned
  • If you keep plugging away, you’ll achieve those goals … eventually … and
  • Don’t let the turkey buzzards get you down.

¹ My Snug is the room I’ve set up as my writing room. I do not use the “O” word to refer to this space because I don’t want the “work” connotation attached to it any more than necessary. I’ve added whimsical elements to this room to make it more fun to spend time in.

Plus, the view is pretty spectacular.

This is what I’m looking at right now. I’m also getting practice at not getting distracted …