Tag Archives: goals

Schedules, Habits, and Lying to Myself

Me: Well. Here we are again.

You: So it would seem.

Me: Indeed.

You: Yup.

 

Man, small talk is awkward. Let’s not try that again.

A while back, I started trying to schedule my time. It has not gone well thus far. When the kids were home during the summer, I was constantly torn between spending time with them and trying to get work done, and constantly feeling guilty about not spending enough time on either, or being distracted when I should have been _______. Working with the kids home just wasn’t working.

And now it’s September.

And they’re in school.

And I’m still distracted.

I swear my brain craves it. It wants to be distracted. It wants shiny bits of useless information more than it wants a book. Well, maybe not more, but I’m not good with delayed gratification, and a 100,000 word book is a bit of a long goal. Internet articles and blog posts and Twitter are immediate. Checking e-mail is fast and sometimes even rewarding. Chatting with friends is easy and almost always a good time.

There are days when I will read the back of a shampoo bottle instead of getting to work. Compelling stuff, that.

So here I am, trying again to find a way to stick to a schedule and make myself get the work done. I have big goals, which I’m going to share with you for reasons of accountability. Those goals are going to require that I be able to focus, which is going to be hard. And no, I haven’t talked to my doctor about medications to help with that, because I’ve heard they destroy creativity.

Not cool. Though some of the other side-effects sound kind of wicked.

So it comes down to a battle of wills, me vs. myself. All I have in my arsenal are a few techniques to try, a schedule and goals written on lined paper, a novel outline with plenty of wiggle room, and… well, a little help from my friends.

Here’s the plan:

Every morning, I get 3 hours to work (I take the kids to school and am back by 8:45, and I go to pick them up at 11:45). Assuming I get coffee, etc. made before work time, and accounting for bathroom breaks, I should be able to get 3,000 words out a morning if I’m drafting book 3 of the Bound Trilogy.

No, it’s not an impressive speed, but I need thinking time. And hey, it could go up. In the future some of those days will be for editing, revisions, and for other production-type-stuff when it gets closer to release time for book 2, but for October and November, it will be writing.

In the afternoon, I get 1.5 hours, and that needs to include walking the dog and any social media stuff. Because I’m not blogging or facebooking or tweeting in the mornings anymore, right?

Hmm. Jack might not be getting the hour-long walks he’s used to.

*sigh*

*sigh*

But I think that’s the key. During my work hours in the morning, I can only WRITE. No distractions. Facebook is only for word sprints with friends, not for reading or posting or chatting (good luck to me there). I have to train myself not to OOH, HANG ON, THAT E-MAIL MIGHT BE IMPORTANT.

We’ll see how it goes. If I can manage those mornings 5 days a week, I’ll have the first draft of book 3 done before the end of November. That leaves lots of time for rests and revisions before… well, I won’t get ahead of myself now.

GOALS:

60,000 words in October

60,000 words in November

Revisions on another project in December (for the 2 weeks  I’ll have before I get edits back on Torn, then a break for Christmas)

115,000+ words in January (editing, not writing)

 

Maybe if I write those goals on the wall, if I have a clock ticking come January (because there’s still so much work to do after editing, and no time to waste if we want this book out in March), if I put the pressure on, I’ll be able to turn away from distractions.

I’ve said that before, and it hasn’t worked out.

But maybe this time I’m not lying to myself. Maybe this time I kick procrastination’s ass, I find a way to focus, and I get stuff done.

We’ll see.

 

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ROW80 Update: Getting There Edition

This morning I told someone my brain was like a flock of birds, and that is the absolute truth. Sort of a murmuration at times, little starling thoughts all flying together in formation, working together and mostly heading in the same direction. Other times it’s just chaos, a thousand different species all pecking at each other and going off in different directions.

I suppose this is to be expected a month before one’s first book release.

Business. Promotion. Publishing. Formatting. Waiting on reader responses. Organizing.

Exhiliration. Self-doubt. Questions. Distractions. Perfectionism.

For the record, I’m not complaining. I chose this path, and though I think it’s perfectly valid to complain about the things we’ve chosen (hello, parenting!), I’m really not. As crazy and sometimes overwhelming as this all is, I wouldn’t have it any other way. For the first time, I’m attempting something big. Something that’s so challenging that I might fall flat on my face. Or maybe I’ll soar like this:

…or more likely, I’ll survive the business bits, get this book out, and move on to the next one. Because though I’ve put myself in the role of publisher, that’s just a thing that I’m doing. It’s not what I am. I’m a writer. I’m going to write.

ROW80 Update

I guess it’s time to look back at my goals from the start of this round to see what’s done and what’s not.

  • Edit Bound  DONE
  • Write back-cover copy  STILL WORKING ON IT. This is is harder than writing the book, I swear.
  • set up Facebook author page, change personal account name for consistency DONE and NOT DONE. If you’d like to give my page a like, it’s here.
  • hire proof-reader  FRIENDS/READERS WORKING ON IT (God love them)
  • find reviewers who might be interested in YA Fantasy (again, if you know anyone, or are someone and want an ARC, see below)  HAVE PEOPLE SIGNED UP FOR ARCS. STILL A FEW SPOTS AVAILABLE FOR E-BOOK ONLY.
  • put together front-matter and back-matter for the book, metadata, keywords, etc  WORKING ON IT. Dedication, acknowledgements, legal notice, etc. done. Need to research keywords, etc.
  • send out newsletter  DONE, and revealed a piece of the cover. Next one goes out in June, with release date, cover, sale information, etc.
  • Formatting (kill me now) HIRED SOMEONE. I have enough going on without this, and the guy I got does gorgeous work.
  • cover reveal here and on other blogs  SCHEDULED FOR JUNE 2
  • apply for ISBNs DONE. Easy peasy. I’m an official publisher!
  • submit to CreateSpace, order proof copy, correct all the things Waiting on proofreads and formatting
  • Prepare for awesome-yet-smallish Facebook release party TBA (looking at June 26)
  • Add to Goodreads, set up give-away Not yet– need finished blurb first. Will add on cover reveal day.
  • revisions on book 2 (we’ll call this a stretch goal) HAHAHAHA! Just starting today

 

Wow. So really, we’re looking good as far as goals go.  Coming up: revising book 2 for JuNoWriMo, which I hope will take my mind off of everything else. The story is there, but I need to add to it. There’s a love story that needs more attention, and I think the rest could do with some punching up.

So there we go.

I’m getting excited.

YAY!


Pleases and Thank Yous and OMG A BOOK: ROW80 goals post, round 2

So this goals post is a week late. I said last Sunday that I was putting it off because of my surgical thinger on Monday (UPDATE: everything is fine, general anaesthesia is creepy, painkillers are kind of fun but I’m off of them now). That was true, but it wasn’t all of it. I was waiting to get stuff back from my editor, and I wanted to make sure his evaluation wasn’t going to be KILL IT NOW WITH FIRE AND EXTREME PREJUDICE before I made goals public.

Wouldn’t want to have to retract my goals now, would I?

Anyway…

This has the potential to be a huge round for me. I’m not going to lie, I might need you all to talk me down from an 8th-floor window ledge at least once, assuming I can find a building anywhere around here with eight floors.

Why? Because this round covers April 7 to June 26, and depending on how things go… no promises just yet… I might just have a book out by the end of this round.

LIKE A BOOK AN ACTUAL BOOK I MIGHT BE HOLDING MY WORDS IN MY HANDS IN LESS THAN THREE MONTHS HOLY CARP.*

Pictured: Holy Carp.

Pictured: Holy Carp.

I got the edits back, and they’re exactly what I had hoped for. My guy is a master of the “sh*t sandwich” technique. No punches pulled on things that need improvement, but some of what he said was so encouraging that I fell asleep smiling the night I got and read the (20 page) critique. When I read the line notes, I spent equal amounts of time slapping my forehead over silly little mistakes and grinning like an idiot because he totally got what I was going for so much of the time.

I’ll do a post on this experience later, because it was so interesting.

The important thing is that he had ideas on how to fix problems I already knew existed, and came up with suggestions that are really going to push this thing up to a whole ‘nother level.

I’m both excited and pants-crappingly terrified. It’s… different.

So what are we looking at over the next few months? A THRILLING roller-coaster of me working on that in a most professional manner and handling all of my other plans and responsibilities with the grace and aplomb of Martha Stewart organizing a dinner party, obviously.

*snerk*

But seriously. Professionalism is this round’s goal. Distance. This isn’t my baby anymore. It’s a product, and if I have anything to say about it, it’ll be a damned good one. I know I’m insecure about a lot of things, but I’m absolutely confident about that.

So, the goals. Please note that these could change and things could get pushed back. But:

APRIL:

  • Edit Bound (pray for me, send happy thoughts, whatever. Please. I’m new at this.)
  • Write back-cover copy (SOMEBODY SAVE ME)
  • set up Facebook author page, change personal account name for consistency
  • hire proof-reader (anyone know someone cheap? I’m pretty well out of cash)
  • find reviewers who might be interested in YA Fantasy (again, if you know anyone, or are someone and want an ARC, see below)
  • put together front-matter and back-matter for the book, metadata, keywords, etc

MAY:

  • finish edits
  • send out newsletter with release date, cover reveal date, preview, and request for readers willing to review ARCs in exchange for a free copy (sign-ups here, if you’re DTR**)
  • Formatting (kill me now)
  • cover reveal here and on other blogs, if anyone wants to assist… *puppy dog eyes*
  • apply for ISBNs
  • submit to CreateSpace, order proof copy, correct all the things
  • Prepare for awesome-yet-smallish Facebook release party (you’re coming, right?)
  • Add to Goodreads, set up give-away
  • revisions on book 2 (we’ll call this a stretch goal)

JUNE:

  • Upload to Amazon, Smashwords
  • LAUNCH THIS THING *smashes champagne bottle on Kindle*
  • Release party
  • mood swings, morning after regret, probable IBS
  • Draft book three for JuNoWriMo if revisions on 2 are done. Otherwise, keep up with that and get to book 3 later.

 

This timeline terrifies me. I’ve been 100% sure I wanted to publish independently for almost a year, but the traditional-minded part of me is still screaming “YOU CAN’T DO IT THAT QUICKLY! SO WRONG!” I’m still amazed when I see authors post things like, “Well, finished a draft, guess I’ll release next month.”

Um… *hides under table*

Time to stop wussing out, though. This is my job now. As entrepreneurial ventures go, it’s a risky one. I just have to learn to be OK with that.

Now, before things get too crazy, I think I should take a minute to thank all of you. My WIPpeteers, my blog friends, my real-life friends who care and have encouraged me and put up with my “should-I-or-shouldn’t-I” crap, and especially those who have read my stuff… you’re all the reason I’m going ahead with this. Your love and encouragement have meant the world to me, and have given me the confidence to follow this dream. You’ve convinced me that this is a gamble that’s going to pay off (in satisfaction and experience, even if not in cash). Your advice and assistance have brought me this far. So thank you.

 

Anything else y’all think I should be doing to get ready?

Oh, and if you need to reach me privately about anything, my contact info is in the “About Me” tab.

 

*Not written like this. You’re welcome.

**Down to read.

 

 


ROW80 Update: WTF, Past Me? Edition

Well, I figured out what to do with myself. I started reading over Resurrection, and had happy times all over the place. And then I got the the part where it stopped RATHER abruptly, and screamed at Past Me for not just finishing it so Present Me could ENJOY IT IS THAT SO MUCH TO ASK?

Apparently, yes.

So I’m going to have to finish that up, if only to satisfy myself (and anyone who wants to volunteer to beta read approximately 40,000 words of vampires, addicted victims, gory crime scenes, snappy banter, betrayals and sex. No fun at all, really. First chapter’s here, BTW)

I think that Cinderella story just got them back into my blood.

ROW80 Update:

WRITING

  • New goals as of last Wednesday: Plan out the rest of Resurrection. COMPLETED.

Oh, I planned it. It took an hour, five pages in my notebook, a lot of work on my dry-erase board and a few slams of my head into a wall to clear it, but I did it. Guys… it was so good I wanted a cigarette after. Then I remembered that I’ve never smoked, so I settled for a Fruit Roll-Up instead*. It was fantastic.

I always knew how this one was going to end, but didn’t know how to get there. I do now.

  • New goal as of today: Finish first draft of Resurrection by the end of February. I only have two hours per weekday day to work this month, but that’s okay. I should be able to do this. My husband might lose me for a few evenings, but this is going to happen.

Oh, and this week I also kinda sorta found a cover designer for Bound and got that information sent off so she can start in March, NO BIG DEAL.

READING

Read “Under the Empyrean Sky” by Chuck Wendig. SO GOOD. The concept (agricultural dystopia, creepy-ass GMO corn, oppressed people and flying cities) is fantastic, and the story lives up to its ideas. I’ll get a review up on Goodreads soon.

LIFE- Goes on. I can’t talk about it. I have vampires in my head.


A Round of Words Goals, Vandaleyes edition

Round one of “A Round of Words in 80 Days” started on Monday. I meant to do my goals post on Sunday, but we were away. Better late than never, right?

No WIPpet Wednesday post from me today. All I’ve been doing is reading over a manuscript, trying to figure out edits, so there’s no new writing to share. I haven’t been getting much done recently. The kids were home for two weeks, and we’re now on their third day of no school when they should have been back. It’s not the weather; skies are clear here, and the roads are fine. Temperatures aren’t even that bad right now. But our part of the province (as in, the entire island portion) is having something of a power crisis, and all schools are closed to conserve.

Long story.

So here we are, still at home, still together 24/7. We’re getting a little bored. There are books to read, of course. The kids and I are almost through Coraline by Neil Gaiman, and they’re enjoying it. There are new toys, but even they lose their appeal after a while, and Ike has perfected his “annoy everyone while also playing with new toys” technique. In light of this, today seemed like a good day to break out my new self-adhesive googly eyes and vandaleyes some stuff around the house.

20140108-143308.jpg

Oh, eos, you so cute!

20140108-143331.jpg

I’d look like that, too.

20140108-143352.jpg

I am Aslan, hear me google.

20140108-143405.jpg

…you get the idea. It kept us busy for a while, anyway.

So here’s hoping that school schedules and power supplies get back to normal soon, and I get a chance to get back to work!

ROW80 Goals, Round 1 – 2014

Round one runs from January 6 to… some time in March, I guess.

Writing goals:

  • Edit Bound, get it ready to go for editing by February 10 (I know, that sounds like cleaning the house before the cleaners come. Just trying to save myself some money and get as much educational value out of this as I can). Spend 2.5 hours per day on this while it’s the main focus.
  • Work on short stories, unrelated projects while that’s away. 1.5 hours’ work per day, or 1000 new words.
  • Outline book 3 of this trilogy

Reading Goals:

  • Read ARC I received recently and review for February 10
  • Read over another friend’s book for him
  • read one novel and one non-fiction book per month (more if possible, this is the minimum goal)

Personal Goals:

  • Put phone away when kids are around (no Twitter, Facebook, etc. when I should be spending in-person time with family), block Twitter and Facebook during writing time.
  • Once my back can handle it, exercise four times per week (walk dog when it’s nice out, Pilates when it’s not.)
  • Make short, prioritized to do list every evening before bed
  • Make weekly meal plan and shop accordingly to try to eat better (and save money by not eating out/wasting food)
  • Prepare everything we need for taxes so I can get that in as soon as AJ gets his forms from work.
  • Talk to my dad (who’s a finances-and-tax type guy) about what I need to keep track of for business purposes
  • Get out to visit my parents once they’re settled in Corner Brook
  • Get a chiropractor
  • Plan our garden (you really can’t plant here before June, but we can plan!)

I guess that’s enough for one round.

Who else is doing ROW80 this round? Either way, what are your plans for the near future? And what do you think I should stick googly eyes on next?


Big Plans, Big Plans…

someecards.com - It may be the antidepressants talking, but I'm feeling somewhat optimistic about 2014.

WARNING: I am writing this on New Year’s Eve, while on drugs. Pain pills and muscle relaxants for my back, to be precise. This is not a problem for most people. I, on the other hand, feel like I’m viewing the world through a fluffy tunnel made of pink cotton batting. It’s happy in here, but somewhat confusing.

Also, I have a hot water bottle shoved in my pants that’s giving me a lovely Quasimodo look, and I’m shuffling around like my great-grandmother did when she was nearing 100. THIS IS SO HOT.

Still, I said I was going to do a New Year’s goal setting post, so here we go. If it doesn’t all make sense, well, there’s always tomorrow to revise.

Professional Goals

My word of the year for 2014 is going to be… (drumroll please): Decisiveness.

Is that a word? That looks wrong.

Decisive. Hmm. Spell-check is cool with it. Maybe we should go with “commitment?”

In the past (like, right now), I’ve been afraid to commit to anything serious. I don’t like taking risks. I like to know I can back out of things without too much fuss or embarrassment if I change my mind. Really, it’s a wonder I ever got married. If I take on a challenge or a big project, I do so fairly quietly. I try to keep my investment in most things to a minimum, and downplay their importance so as to avoid the pain of losing when I give up or fail.

I like to have an easy out, is what I’m saying.

This is going to be the year I get over that. I’m going to dive into the deep end. In March (and I have reasons for this timing), I will have reached the point of no return. I will change my Facebook profile name to match my professional name. If people ask why, I’ll tell them. And I’ll add a job to my profile there, and set up an author page (much good it’ll do me; Facebook seems to be making things difficult for pages, and I hope most people will add me as a friend as well as following that).

I will announce a book release date.

I will work my ass off and get a book out.

And another one.

Two books in 2014 is the goal. For some people, that’s nothing. Some people can release six or 12 novels in a year. I can’t, for various reasons. But two, both of which I’m already working on, seems reasonable.

I will manage my time, set deadlines, and get this done. I know what I want, and for once in my life I’m going to take some risks to get it.

(It’s kind of crazy how things change. Last night I was reading a journal entry from a year ago, when I was stressing about writing a perfect query letter and hoping to get an agent. Now my goals have completely changed, and I’ve decided that path’s not for me. Never would have called that. I guess in light of that, my other word for the year should be flexibility. It’s worked well so far, and in the changing and increasingly challenging landscape of independent/author publishing, it’s absolutely necessary.)

Personal Goals

I think my big personal goal will be to get organized. I probably said that last year, too. But I feel like maybe, if I can focus on work during half-days when the kids are both at school, I should be able to keep household stuff under control. My work time used to be whenever I could grab it, which meant I was always scattered, and always thinking I should be doing something else. Now there might be a chance of focusing, if I can break the habit of checking e-mail and Twitter, etc. every ten minutes.

Okay, every four minutes. Jeez, you guys see right through me, don’t you?

I’ll have three hours a day to myself when kindergarten is in morning sessions (January, March, May), one and a half hours when they’re on afternoons. It will take some planning and a lot of co-operation from the kids, but I should be able to get 8-10 work hours in per week, and then do groceries, exercise, meal planning, and house cleaning during the other daytime hours, leaving evenings to relax and do some research and reading of blogs and books. Work time will be writing, formatting, and other book-ish stuff, plus whatever promotional…

Ugh, I’m screwed, right?

Well, I wasn’t planning on making it big on my first book, anyway. In September both kids will be in school all day (but home for lunch), so I’ll be able to do more promotional stuff when the second book comes out. The writing part is more important.

Wait, this section was personal goals, wasn’t it? *scoops brain off of floor, puts back in head*

Read a novel a week, plus a business/craft book every two weeks. Plan all suppers, grocery shop once a week. Make time to help with the kids’ homework every day, and read them a story before bed. Learn to be more patient, somehow. Get into a routine. Keep the house clean. If I can’t get over my telephone-related anxiety, at least enlist help from AJ and get those calls made somehow. Get a chiropractor. Floss teeth every day. Spend less time on things that aren’t important.

Good enough?

My head is spinning. I’m not sure if that’s the drugs or the future. I’m guessing the drugs. I’m not drinking, but I may spend New Year’s Eve passed out on the floor after all. WOOHOO, PARTY!


…yes, I AM in Third Grade. What’s Your Point?

So, now that NaNoWriMo is drawing to a close, I need a new system to keep me motivated and rewarded.

Because, y’know, bringing characters and stories to life is cool and all, but I really like updating my word count every day and being like, “BOO-YAH!”* Watching the word count bar fill up is fun. Seeing progress is ridiculously encouraging, and being able to look back on what I’ve accomplished every day is even better.

I could just write my word count in my planner every day, but I wanted something more visual, kind of like that word count bar. Soooo I’m giving myself star stickers. Here’s the chart:

20131128-112048.jpg

“TO DO: buy white-out”

I don’t plan on getting a lot of gold stars after this month, but it’s there, just in case. You never know, right? Reach for the (gold) stars.

Silver is my actual daily goal, though there will be many days when I don’t reach it, for various reasons. Still, getting a silver star is pretty darn good.

Green star? Hey, words written are words written. No day when I’ve created something is a waste.

Red star= no writing. I got a lot of those last weekend, right after my NaNo win:

20131128-112733.jpg

…and the days following 😉

No stars for days I’d planned to take off, I guess. Oh, and blue stars for editing. I expect to need a LOT of blue stars in January, as I prepare a ms to go for professional editing in February. Sending a cleaner ms = cheaper editing for me.

Cue panic attack!

I know, writing should be its own reward, and I’m acting like a toddler who demands stickers on a chart before she’ll use the potty. But it’s fun. I like putting stickers on things, and I like a visual record of what I’ve accomplished. Gold stars aren’t enough motivation for me to write 5,000 words of crap, which is good. But then, neither is winning NaNoWriMo.

I can’t pad my word count with descriptions of what’s in characters’ pockets just to win something. Can’t do it.

So we’ll see how long it takes for the novelty of this to wear off. I suppose if I also noted times of day I worked and conditions, I could eventually figure out how to optimize productivity…

Or I could just put pretty stickers in my planner. Whichever.

So, kindred spirits and others: How do you keep yourself motivated? Or DO you? Do you like stickers? I FRIGGING LOVE STICKERS! 

*Please note: I do not literally say “BOO-YAH.”


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