Lena Corazon

Flights of Fancy

ROW80: The First Week

Week 1 of ROW80, and the second full week of my fall quarter, is complete! For me, the past seven days has been a crash course in organization, scheduling, and trying my darndest to work at my various projects and responsibilities consistently.  Reviewing everything that I managed to do (and those few things that fell by the wayside), I’d say that I’ve done mostly well in reaching my goals.

Writing. I pledged to spend 8-10 hours on WIP-related tasks, and judging from my count, I managed to reach 8 hours. A couple of those were spent struggling through an idea I had for a novella, and the rest with brainstorming and plotting for NaNoWriMo. I also had a chance to write a short flash fiction piece for the “Ghouls Galore” writing challenge I’ve decided to tackle for October. It’s a fun challenge — 4 creepy ghouls over 4 weeks. My first piece is “The Fourth Floor,” about a haunted mansion, one very angry poltergeist, and two high school students who are in way over their heads.

Thesis: I had a really hard time digging into the thesis this week. I originally projected that I would work on it for about 8 hours, and I think I managed to squeeze in maybe 5 or 6. My attention span has been virtually non-existent, though, and I can’t really handle more than 1 hour of work at a time. However, I think I should have the draft of this chapter finished by Sunday night. It’s far from perfect, but I really need to have feedback on it before I go any further. Cross your fingers that I can score a meeting with my advisor in the next week or so!

Exercise: I had hoped to work out 4 or 5 days this week, and I successfully got on my glider 4 times. My clothes are starting to fit better, and I’ve been able to liberate a few items out of my “too small to fit right now” pile, so this is a plus. Now I just have to maintain my momentum, and not fall by the wayside like I always seem to do.

Random things that I’ve learned:

  • Reading dense theory takes a sickening amount of time, especially when I’m trying to absorb material and take notes. I can speed-read an academic chapter (roughly 45-50 pages long) in two hours; I need over three hours if I want to do a good job of understanding things.
  • On the other hand, reading fun novels takes no time at all! In two days I have read the first two novels in Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series, and I am holding myself back from devouring the last three. I made a major library run the other day, and have Cherie Priest’s Boneshaker in queue, as well as Deborah Harkness’s A Discovery of Witches.
  • I seem to be evolving into a disgustingly cheerful morning person — not sure how I have managed this, but I am grateful.

So, yeah, overall I’d say that I’m off to a decent start. I’ll be recalibrating things as I go (for example, do I need to spend 8 hours each week on the thesis, or can I do what I need to do with fewer hours?), but for the moment, I think tackling time targets is working well for me.

As a side note, I just want to add that I’m really grateful that I have friends in town who force me to go out and have a social life. I’ve had my nose to the grindstone for the entire week, trying to juggle everything, and I probably would work straight through the weekend if I didn’t have people forcing me to leave the house. Tonight I was persuaded to go out for dinner, and tomorrow I’ll be back to the weekly ritual of church with one of my friends. Then I will get to spend the afternoon at the movies with another buddy of mine. We are going to see Real Steel, and I will have 2 hours to fangirl squeal over the magnificence that is Hugh Jackman. Granted, I still have a research abstract to write, and thesis edits to do, and roughly 150 pages more theory to read, but I suppose having some relaxation time is important as well. 😀

How’s the first week gone for everyone else? Any need to tweak goals yet, or are things progressing swimmingly for the moment?

ETA: I would totally love to have a ROWbuddy for this round! I have no specific requirements, but it would be grand to have someone about for general encouragement, and maybe to do some writing sprints, especially as NaNoWriMo approaches. I am in the Pacific time zone (U.S. west coast); Twitter and email are my favorite modes of communication.


  1. Well done! Hope Reel Steel was good, must go see that myself!

    • Thanks so much, Sharon! Movie watching got postponed in favor of going to the beach, but I’ll report back once I get a chance to see it.

      Hope you have a wonderful week!

  2. Balancing a social life into our writing life is SOOOO important! I was quoting Louisa May Alcott in my poetry critique group today ~ “First live, then write.”

    Great material springs from social exchange.

    Congrats on your ROW80 work so far!

    • Julie, I absolutely LOVE that quote. And you’re right — if we don’t live, if we don’t engage with people, it can be difficult to write. I think my work has grown and evolved primarily because my range of social interactions and experiences have expanded over the years.

      Thanks for swinging by. Have a lovely week!

  3. Well done, sounds like you’re juggling your goals fantastically.

  4. I love my cyber nice, but going out with friends and laughing with them is unbeatable. Good for you!
    And I see you’re doing a great job with your goals. Congrats =)

    • *I love my cyber life*
      Jeez, can’t think straight this early on a Sunday morning lol

      • No worries! I know exactly what you mean.

        And I agree — I have a blast on Twitter and social media, but it’s good to get out and hang out with people face-to-face. I’m really grateful that I have people who will drag me out of my apartment and force me to have fun.

        Have a lovely week!

  5. You’re doing great Lena. I think you’ve got a great ROW80 start and I’m sure you will keep the same momentum throughout.

  6. Great job, Lena! Very impressive the number of things you are able to accomplish. I’m a “perky morning person” too and yeah, it is a great thing except for all the bleary eyed types but they can’t tell who that is in front of them bouncing around so its all good 🙂

    My wife “informs” me when it is time to go out (no collar involved). She makes sure I get out of my office and interact with society on occasion which is uber cool.

    Have a great week!

    • As a sometimes bleary-eyed type, I can commiserate! I feel a little sorry for my 8 am and 9 am students this quarter — I bust in all excited and energetic, and they look at me through bloodshot eyes, slightly confused about what all this excitement over ethnographic methods is about. 😉

      Have a wonderful week as well!

  7. Terrific breakdown, Lena. I, too, have suddenly become a ‘cheerful-morning-person’ (at least after I have a half-hour to sit quietly and wake up). I’ve always struggled to feel good until I was up for at least an hour or two! So, I’m rejoicing in this improvement. I worry that when the dreary winter mornings come, this ‘change’ will fly right out the window. These beautiful fall mornings could cheer leviathan himself! Ha!
    Yes, you need to go out and socialize! We can’t neglect the other parts of our ‘self’ for our work-self, our writer-self, or our wife/mom-self! Balance, right? Enjoy the break….and don’t you dare feel guilty about it! Ha!
    Have a great week, Lena! ~ Nadja

    • Ohhh, you’ve mentioned that terrible, terrible thing — winter. Of late we have had lots of golden sunlight and blue skies, but you are right. I’m not too sure how my ‘happy bouncy morning self’ will hold up once it gets all dark and cold. I’ll cross my fingers, though, that we manage to keep it up!

      Yup, balance is definitely my keyword this round! I am happy to report that I spent 4 hours on the beach in the sunshine, spending part of the time reading for class and the rest of the time having deep conversation with a good friend of mine. It was utter bliss, and I can’t wait to do it again. 😀

      Have a great week as well, Nadja!

  8. Good job on your writing and exercise goals! And, even if you didn’t do as much work on your thesis as you wanted, it still sounds like you got some good work done. Good luck next week!

    • Thanks so much, Jaime! I’m trying to focus on what I’ve gotten done, and not too much on what slid by the wayside — it is good to stay positive about things.

      Have a lovely week!

  9. Sounds like you had a great first week. Kudos for getting out for relaxation time. I wish my best friend was in the same state so we could do a movie…just have to settle for our chat date later this afternoon 🙂

    Good luck with the upcoming week.

    • Aww, my absolute bestie ever lives over 300 miles away, so I know what you mean. We’ve been doing google video chats together, to make it feel like we’re in the same space, but it’s definitely not the same.

      Have a lovely week, Raelyn!

  10. Well done. Keep going. It’s my first time doing ROW and reading a post like this one helps to keep me going. Thank you. 🙂 xx

    • Oh good, I’m so happy that this is helpful! It can be a little hard to find your footing with the first few weeks of starting ROW80, but you’ll get into the groove in no time at all. 😀

  11. You’ve made a great start. I like the way you’re prepared to tweak goals as needed. Too many people seem to think that once a goal has been written down, it’s chiselled in stone!

    • You know, I definitely fall into that trap. I’ve been reproaching myself for the past few days for the fact that I haven’t spent 8 hours on my thesis… and it finally dawned on me that maybe I don’t need to spend 8 hours on the thesis. It’s strange how we allow the things that we have created to have power over us, when we’re the ones who can change the parameters of our goals/creations.

      Thanks so much for stopping by, Sarah!

  12. I’m really impressed with all you’re doing. This is your last year of school, right? I totally understand that decreasing attention span. You can do it! On a side note, I just heard about the Fever series, and now it seems several people are reading it! I gotta get me a copy. 😀

    • I’m in my last year of coursework, but I’ll need more time to finish up the dissertation. I think a huge part of feeling so distracted, though, is the fact that I’ve spent so darn long on my thesis. I just want it to be done with, but I can’t muster the energy to finish it. I am going to have to grit my teeth and just force my way through, because that is the only way I’ll have any peace of mind.

      And yes, you must get your hands on the Fever series! I was told that theere are some serious cliffhangers, so I managed to borrow all 5 books. They are currently burning a hole on my shelf, just *demanding* to be read. I can’t wait till later on this week, when I can just plow my way through and not have to worry (well, too much) about homework.

  13. Wow, girl! You done good!!!! It’s I’ve struggled a bit, but I fine tuning everything. It’s great to be accountable to so many people. No room for slip-ups. Your progress is great to see!

    • Thanks so much, Diana! Yes, you’re right, this is the definitely one of the best parts of being accountable. I think of all the times I allowed writing to slide by the wayside, or when I decided that if I didn’t work out it wouldn’t matter, because no one was around to care either way…. and now I don’t have the luxury of indulging in those excuses. 😀

      Have a wonderful week!

  14. Celebrate the morning person within! I’m so much more productive overall when I get a quick writing shift in during the first hour of my day. Nice job on your goals. Sounds like you’re keeping up with the juggle. 🙂

    • It’s so true — doing things in the morning is wonderful, because I don’t have to worry about it later on in the day, when I’m tired and ready to crash.

      Thanks for stopping by, J.R. Have a lovely week!

  15. I think becoming a morning writer might be crucial for NaNo! I however have only once tried morning writing and it was a disaster. Maybe I need to practise getting up early and writing.

    You have had a great start and I am so glad your social side is being let out! Have a great week two!

    • Ugh, the only reason I’m getting up early is because I absolutely *have* to… but I suppose I am gaining good skills from it. I think it’s worth just getting the exercising out of the way first thing, because then I don’t have to worry about it later on. 😀

      Hope you’re having a great week, Em!

  16. Sounds like all is well. Lots of work and lots of reading happening. Good job! And to reclaim clothes from the too small pile is always exciting. Congrats all around. Enjoy that amazing piece known as Hugh Jackman 🙂

    • Thanks, Wendy! And I definitely will enjoy Hugh Jackman. My movie excursion got postponed till Tuesday, so I may have to have a mini-HJ marathon to “prepare,” lol.

      Have a great week!

  17. Well done. Taking time out to relax and have fun is equally important. Especially with all you have on your plate. I’ll have to check out moning’s books. I keep hearing good things about them.

    • I’m definitely starting to see the appeal of having some relaxation time built into my schedule — I am hoping that in the long run it’ll make me more productive (or at least less likely to have stress-related migraines!). And I highly recommend Moning’s books. Her Fever series is very different from her Highlander books, but I love both series.

  18. Congrats on a good first week. Sounds like you have things well under control. For me, the week has been a bit of stop-then start-then stop and then I’m about to start again. No tweaking of goals yet, though.

    Wishing you a good week 2!

    • Melanie, thanks for swinging by! And I feel you on the ‘stop-then-start’ business — that’s been the story of my relationship with thesis-writing for the past few weeks. Hopefully things ease up once we get into the swing of things. 😀

      Have a lovely week 2 as well!

  19. You have far bigger goals than I, but I’m impressed with how much you accomplished, even if you didn’t quite meet them all to the original standard. It all sounds like a lot of work, and it’s good to get out and socialize some between all that so you don’t burn out.

    Reading KMM’s “Fever Series” will set you back on other goals. I devoured the first four books in four or five days with non-stop reading. Had to wait on the fifth book to release, but it was finished a day after purchasing. I love that series a lot. How you will be able to hold off on the next books will be interesting. They are not easy to put down!

    Good luck with this next week. Hope you accomplish all you set out to do 🙂

    • Eeep, the last three books are just taunting me from their spot on my bookshelf right now! I’ve actually been too worn out for the past couple of days to even think of starting (thank goodness), but all bets are off tonight. 😉

      Have a wonderful week, Susan, and thanks for stopping by!

  20. yay on the goals! And OMG the Fever series is really really good. One of my top choices/reccomends.

    • I had a bit of a hard time getting into the first book, but oh man. Things really picked up in book 2, and I feel like we’re just careening forward. I can’t wait to get through the rest!

  21. Boy do I hear you about reading theory–I zip through novels like a hot knife through butter–theory is more the hot knife hacking through frozen hamburger model! I’m a cheery morning person, too–Gene’s comment made me laugh. Luckily I’ve calmed down by the time my husband gets up, lol,

    Yay for you having a real life–it helps fill the well, I think. And I’m looking for a ROWbuddy as well–let me know if you don’t find a West Coaster!

    • Yes, yes, exactly — theory just kills me with the amount of time and energy required to get through it. I love theory, I really do, but ugh.

      And yessss, I am excited that we are going to be ROWbuddies! This is going to be awesome!

  22. Sounds like you are off to a great start! It’s amazing how goals can keep you in line. And kudos for managing writing goals along with a pending thesis. Setting aside time for social life is spot on – otherwise your brain will explode!

    I just got back from a trip to Italy, so I could use some exercise goals, too. Jeans are probably the best indicator of weight gain/loss…

    • Yes, juggling the thesis and writing is something else altogether. I know my parents would rather that I just focused on school, but I’ve come to realize that I’m not a happy person unless I am stretched my brain and my creativity at the same time, so I’m trying to learn how to deal with the day job and the fun stuff without going *too* crazy.

      Oh, and don’t get me started on jeans (though a trip to Italy sounds amazing!). I have three pairs of jeans sequestered in the a corner of the closet, waiting to be reclaimed. Hopefully I can manage to do that sometime during this round. 😀

  23. Social life? What’s that?! You mean like ROW80 Twitter parties? 😉

    It sounds as though you’ve made remarkable progress. As a ROW80 sponsor, I officially offer you much good luck this week.

  24. You’re doing awesome, Lena! This is a great progress – very inspiring!

  25. Great job so far! It sounds like with school duties tossed in, you have tons going on so good for you in the area of planning and getting organized. I also agree that taking time for social stuff is a must to keep happy balance. 🙂 I didn’t hit all of my goals this week and it was a great learning curve to see the tweaks I need to make.

    • Yes, the first couple of weeks are really useful in terms of figuring out what works and what doesn’t. I think the challenge for me is trying to see whether or not I’m the culprit — you know, if I’m the one who slacked off too much, and wasn’t attentive to what needed to get done. So it’s a bit of a balancing act, but I *think* I’m getting better at it.

      Hope you’re having a wonderful week, Barbara!

  26. I wish I had friends who would make me go out! Keep up the great work!

    • It’s such a blessing. I didn’t really have any friends for the first couple of years that I was in grad school, and it made things a little difficult (though I have to admit, I am very good at entertaining myself).

      Hope your week is going well!

  27. Fantastic week this week – so proud! You are an inspiration getting so much done and striking a balance with some fun!
    How did you like Real Steel?
    I absolutely LOVED Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series! Once I started book 1, I couldn’t stop until I finished them all – good for you on having will power! LOL!
    Keep up the great work!

    • Natalie, thanks so much for popping by! Real Steel got postponed, but once I get a chance to see it, I’ll definitely report back. And aaaaaack, the Fever series is taunting me. I think once I figure out my lesson plan for my Wednesday morning classes, I am going on a major reading binge for the rest of the night. 😀

  28. I don’t mind being your ROWbuddy this round. Good luck and take care!

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