27 June 2014

ROW80 2014, Round 2, Final Check-in

"A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life."

This round has been all about traveling, accepting the fact that I have more limitations when I travel, and making adjustments accordingly. 

The thing is, when I travel, everything takes longer. Take grocery shopping as a small example: In Minneapolis in May, it took time to figure out where the grocery store in my new neighborhood was, time to figure out how to get there, time to figure out the layout of said grocery store, and then time to figure out what products to buy in lieu of the products I would normally buy at home. Multiply this by all the little tasks one does in a week, and you can see that normal productivity is impacted.

And then if you're in a foreign country - I'm in Madrid, Spain as I write this - you have to take into account the culture and language barriers. I'm fluent in Spanish and have spent quite a bit of time in Madrid before, but still I don't understand everything that is said, and I am always questioning whether the thing I just said was correct. (Case in point: my host/flatmate was grumpy and instead of asking her whether there was anything I could do for her to make her feel better, I mistakenly asked if there was anything I could do to her to make her feel better. Way to creep out the flatmate, Sione.) Point being that it takes a lot more energy to have interactions in one's non-native language and in a country where all the things are different from one's home country.

Next month I'm going to Paris, where I imagine things will be worse* for me since my French is nowhere near as good as my Spanish and I've only ever spent a weekend at a time in Paris. Then, in August, things will get worse* still because I'll be in Vienna: a place I've never been to in my life, and I don't speak German. Yet. I'm going there to learn it. Which adds to it, because then I'll be spending 12 hours a week in language classes. 12 fewer hours per week available for working on my writing-related goals.

(*When I say "worse" here I'm only referring to my ability to be productive. Obviously I'm excited and grateful for the chance to have these adventures this summer, otherwise I wouldn't do them.)
View from my home office in Madrid

So what I've had to accept is that I can no longer count on getting 8-9 hours of work done per day. I just don't have the time or energy for it. In Minneapolis I was able to consistently get 6-7 hours of work done a day. Here in Madrid? Uf. It's looking more like 4 hours/day so far. But maybe that's just because I'm still settling in? (she says hopefully.)

To sum up what I've learned and accomplished during this round of ROW80:
  • I finished writing the pseudonym's WIP1. Yay!
  • I read some inspiring writing, including the collection of short stories No One Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July.
  • I participated in the ROW80 community by commenting on others' posts while I was still in Oregon and stable (i.e. April).
  • I learned this stuff about my revision process.
  • I learned that I can't travel the world (or even the United States) and expect to get as much done as I can when I'm in a stable place for an extended period of time, so I either have to get really good at prioritizing and letting the less important stuff go, or I have to stay home. The alternative is insanity.
The next round of ROW80 starts on July 7th. Between now and then I'm going to think very hard about my priorities (a big one is going to be to enjoy Paris and Vienna while I'm there because otherwise, what's the point?); limit my work schedule to 4-5 hours a day, 5 days a week, including editing and coaching work; and come up with a sane writing schedule in response.

This is a blog hop! Click here to see other ROW80 participants' final Round 2 check-ins.


  1. What a wonderful opportunity, Sione, to spend time in so many new places. I get you about losing some of the "stability edge", but as each experience becomes more comfortable, I bet your writing will eventually return to higher levels of productivity. And... eventually you may even find yourself more productive in all places.

    (I'd be the complete opposite of you... I would function in Paris better than Madrid. My German and my Spanish are about similar. Still... Trying your best will work wonders. Enjoy!)

    1. Thanks, Eden! I agree; I'm very lucky to get to have this experience. And I hope you're right that I'll eventually be able to settle in and create more. It's so essential to my sanity! ;*)

  2. One great thing about ghe travelling is that you'll have so much treasure to draw on for your writing. So another way to look at this is that you're writing ALL THE TIME! All the different cultural mindsets, customs, habits, way of phrasing things... wonderful.

    And go easy on yourself. You don't want to burn yourself out.

    Enjoy your travels and I'm looking forward to hearing more anecdotes. The wrong preposition in the right place was funny. :)

    1. Thanks, Lisa! I agree - I too am amused by my misstep. ;*)

      Your comment reminds me that the last time I traveled for an extended period of time I started doing more creative nonfiction to describe my experiences with the people and the culture. Maybe that would be a good outlet for me again. Something to try!

  3. Thank is awesome to hear, Sione! Travels to foreign places, truly exciting. I know there work in there, but there will also be chances for fun! Can't wait to hear about your adventures.

    Anything in flux is hard to deal with at first, give it and you time to adjust, and remember that YOU GOT THIS!! :-)

  4. Thanks, Cindy! I love that I can take my job anywhere, for example Spain, France and Austria! =*) And I appreciate your faith in me that I can figure out how to enjoy where I am and still get done what I need to get done. I think this will probably be really good for me in the long-run; working 9 hours a day isn't super healthy, and figuring out what my priorities are while I'm traveling will help me set a more manageable to-do list when I go back home.

  5. oh what an exciting summer for you - and what memories, sights, scents, ect will be burnt into your writing:) i often get wrong word (mine is due to dyspraxia) and it is amazing how such tiny seemingly insignificant words can change the whole meaning from positive to negative! Have fun:)

    1. Indeed, Alberta! A different preposition, the omission or inclusion of a comma - these things can completely change the meaning of an utterance! I shudder to think what mistakes I will make when I start learning Mandarin, a language wherein there are five different ways to say the same word and each way carries a completely different meaning! ;*)