Hey lovely people! I just wanted to let you know that I’m visiting Juneta’s blog today to talk about my writing journey thus far. Hope to see you there!
Unless the wheels have spectacularly come off my life in some way, people have a tendency to be amazed by how much I get done in a month. And every now and then, someone will ask me how I manage it.
After all, we writers have the same amount of hours in the day. So how do I stretch mine to get so much done?
Step 1: Set Goals and Break Them Into Smaller Chunks
How does that help a writer stretch time? you might ask. Well. One of my big secrets to getting stuff done is knowing what I want to do.
So I set myself some huge goals, and then I break them into progressively smaller chunks.
Goal 1: Make a living wage from writing books.
- Write books.
- Write this one book.
- Write 1,000 words every day.
- Write 50,000 words.
- Write the next book.
- Write 1,000 words every day.
- Write 50,000 words.
- Write this one book.
- Edit books.
- Publish books
- Format books.
- Upload them to retailers.
And so on. Now I not only have this big goal, but I also see the steps to get to that goal. (The ones that are in my control, anyway.)
I often break even the steps into smaller steps, until I have hundreds of little things I need to do.
Which might sound terrifying, but what sounds easier:
Make a living from writing? Or write 1,000 words today?
So what I’m doing is to break all of my goals into smaller, bite-sized chunks. And then I move onto Step 2.
Step 2: Set Your Priorities.
Once I know what I want and how I’m planning to get there, I can sit down and decide what’s the most important to me.
But here’s the important thing: I decide what’s important to me right now.
This bit is a trick to my success, because a lot of those big goals I set are pretty much equal when it comes to how important they are in my life.
I don’t have kids, but if I had, I wouldn’t be able to say writing is more important than my children. But I wouldn’t ever be able to call writing unimportant either.
So the thing is, if you’re sitting down to get going, there will be things on that specific day that’s more important. If you know you want to focus on that, then focus on that. But also know when you’ve neglected some other aspect, so you can temporarily bump that thing up your priority list in order to even everything out.
Step 3: Create a To-Do List.
Once I know all the things that are really important, I can quickly write down the 10 things that are weighing on me the most. (I like 10 for being a nice, even number, but pick whatever works for you.)
Next thing I do is to number the order in which I’d like to do those 10 things.
Because if I decide upfront what I want to do after I’ve finished the task at hand, I don’t have to waste time later trying to decide what I should be doing.
How do I pick the order?
This depends. Some days, it’s in order of the shortest deadline to the longest. Other days, it’s Writing first and everything else next. Today I’m not feeling a bit lethargic, so I’m making up for it by starting with something easy, then something hard, then easy, then hard etc.
Step 4: Start Doing
Yeah I know. Obvious, right? But sometimes, people underestimate how important it is to just get going. There’s a reason why, when it comes to the setting of my to-do list, I keep things simple. I don’t try to schedule anything because I know it takes longer for me to schedule and re-schedule as my day shifts. Time that I could actually be using to tick stuff off my to-do list.
So once I have my 10 things and I know in which order I’d like to do things. I start. If something happens to prevent me from completing one task, I move onto the next. (Writing this blog is task number 4. Number 3 is postponed because I’m waiting for information.) I might get back to it later. I might postpone to tomorrow.
And no, there’s nothing wrong with postponing as long as it’s not going to break a deadline. Because unless you set the bar really low, there’s no way you’re going to finish all the tasks you set for yourself.
So move the stuff you didn’t get to. Just as long as you get it done.
And My Big Secret?
I don’t multitask.
Yeah, I know. People usually act like multitasking is the way to go. Especially if you have as many and as varied goals as I do.
But here’s the thing. No one actually multitasks.
You’re just rapidly switching your focus from one thing to the next thing.
As I’m sitting here, I’m writing this post without looking at my twitter. When I’m doing my social networking stuff, I don’t do it while watching T.V. When I am doing something to relax, I try to do so without bringing “work” along. Unless you count crafting as work. But that’s a whole other story.
Point is: If I’m at task number 1, I focus on that task until it’s done, or until I take a break.
And then I focus on the next thing.
And the next thing.
And the next.
Because when I’m focusing, I’m making fewer mistakes. And I actually speed up. Because I don’t even have the smallest moment of thinking “what did I want to do here again?”
And so, things get done one little step at a time. And then at the end of the month, I take stock and actually realize how much I have achieved.
What about you? Are you a multitasker? Do you have a system for getting everything done? What tips do you have?
This morning, I watched a vlog post by one of my favorite writing vloggers on YouTube. And to be honest, the post left me fuming.
The post was about ten types of writers that are “the worst,” as in people who suck.
And I did agree with nine out of the ten points, because they dealt with things like genre elitists, mansplainers, etc.
But one was basically a take-down of character-driven pantsers like me. And that ticked me off, because she basically lumped a perfectly valid approach to writing right in there with writers who want to write but never actually do and people who write comments on writing without understanding what writing is about.
Because apparently, having a character who doesn’t want to do something you wanted them to do isn’t a justifiable reason to be stuck.
Which, as someone who actually has been writing while giving my characters free rein for years and actually has about 25 finished rough drafts as a result, I find to be a ridiculous assertion for a plotter to make.
But to give you plotter dudes an idea, this little inclusion in her “the worst” list is like me calling you chickenshit for insisting on a comfort blanket that is your plot outline before starting out. Because pantsing is true creativity, y’all.
And insulting people for using a method just because you don’t use it, or just because you never thought to use it, is not cool.
Still, it did get me thinking about the things we do when giving and receiving advice and since I’m kinda in a mini-blog series about so-called “writing rules,” I thought I’d write them down as tips of my own.
Hell, this is a stupid idea in general
Because if you’re going to discourage a natural pantser from pantsing, you’re not helping that person at all.
If you have under ten minutes in your vlog and you can’t take the time to justify your opinion with more than a few trite, bullshit witticisms about why half your following is wrong, maybe this vlog post isn’t the place to include this particular opinion.
What about you? Have you ever seen or heard someone share writing advice that made your blood boil?
Hey everyone! Yesterday was the last Friday of the month, which means it was time for another Update Day. Sadly for me, I was forced to miss updating in time because the Internet went down.
For those of you wondering what on Earth I’m talking about, a few of us writers are taking part in a bloghop hosted by me and Jen Garrett, where we set crazy or just seriously important goals, and then post updates on the last Friday of the month.
A lot of stuff has happened though, which has solidified my priorities, so bewarned, this is going to be a long post as I set out and explain my major goals for the next few weeks and months ahead. Ready?
Okay strap in.
So How Did I Do?
It was a bit of a mixed bag for me, with a lot of fails mixed in with my success.
The big thing is:
Everything else… Meh.
Book 3 got done with about 20k words left to spare, and once I did that, I just couldn’t keep the momentum going on another project. Used to be that I could easily switch between projects, but I’m out of practice because Book 3 has basically been taking up all my creative mind space for the past two years.
So this Camp NaNo, despite me doing awesome for as long as I was writing, is going to be a lose for me. Oh well.
And as for my social media… I tried to update my blog once a week on Fridays, which I mostly succeeded at, but I skipped last week because I was drained from finishing Book 3. (I did the last chapters in an eight-thousand-word marathon.)
Because of this and a whole lot of other stuff I’ll get into in a bit, I also didn’t get around to vlogging. I have recorded a video, but didn’t edit it because I thought it would be better if my first update in a while was for this post… And then I got busy with this other thing and didn’t record the video.
I was active on twitter and I estimate I’ve gained close to 200 followers between my two accounts, so that’s a win.
Then, I also did two mammoth editing jobs for clients and am now working on a third, AND I’ve been working on the covers for The War of Six Crowns, the series. And man. The updated cover for The Vanished Knight is gorgeous. I think it might be my best yet, and the concept for the series of covers really has me excited, because it’s a major challenges.
Then I’ve also managed to do some reading.
AND! Once I’ve wrapped up Book 3, I’ve started kicking my unhealthy lifestyle to the curb.
Wow. Now that I’m listing everything I’ve achieved… I’ve actually had an epic month.
What Would I Like to Do in the Next Few Months?
Because Book 3 needs to rest, I’m going to work on something else. And some of you guys, who’ve beta’ed for me in the past, will possibly be glad to know I’ve decided to do some work on Eden’s Son, my Historical Romance.
I just really need a change of pace from Book 3, and I though it could be nice if I managed to wrap up ES1 and publish it this year, since it’s the second oldest story I’ve written and the oldest of my story concepts. (I’ve been working on various iterations of this story basically forever. In fact, the first novel I ever started to write is a book in this series, before I realized that there was a lot of story before that book that needed to be told first.)
Also, at the risk of sounding really cynical, it would be nice if I have a romance out to help stabilize my writing income. But I freaking love this story, so it’s going to be a pleasure to get it done after sixteen odd years.
There is soooooooooooo much I need to do that I haven’t gotten around to before. I just couldn’t focus on all this when I had Book 3 staring at me like a baleful child. But now it’s done, So I can at least to do the following:
I at least want to get back to my Monday/Friday schedule, with Friday featuring a vlog post of some sort. For that, I’m probably going to start filming a whole lot of videos on writing topics that I can edit as needed so I have a bit more of a buffer for when I’m busy, and then I’m going to do my more personal vlog updates on the fly when I have the opportunity. I want my Monday blog posts to relate to my Friday posts in some way, so that’s also going to help me get some content done in time. Although I love being all nice and personal, I also realize that adding value is something I haven’t been able to do for years, so I need to fix that.
Believe it or not, I’ve gone from designing my own covers because it’s cheaper to designing my own covers because I love them more than I do when someone else designs for me. So to save myself the pain and tears of having to learn things the hard way, I’m doing a graphic design course so I can get a better concept of what’s going on and how to achieve what I want to achieve with my covers.
I’m a terrible boss to myself. My whole feeling is that if I’m going to self publish, all aspects of the production of my book needs to be better than what anyone else would have done for me. That means I’m learning some mad skills. Helps that my freelancing activities are basically paying me to learn stuff.
This is another thing where my graphic design is going to come in handy. My old author website is so out of date that I don’t even point people at it anymore. So that needs to be fixed. Before that can happen, though:
I need to implement the ideas I have brewing for that cover and as a bonus, do a few fixes on the cover to Endless while I’m at it. Once those are done, I can get into building the new site. (Which is another skill I’m having to learn. Insane, but makes sense given my other job… More on this later.)
I’ve resisted the newsletter thing for a while because I didn’t believe I had enough people interested in reading a newsletter. Thanks to Wattpad, this has now changed. The Vanished Knight now has close to 250k reads and a whole lot of people who keep contacting me for updates on Book 3.
And while I’m at it, I’m just going to reformat the whole shebang. I’ve learned a boatload of new stuff since self-publishing the first time. So I’m taking the books up to the next level.
You didn’t read that wrong. For the first time since I’ve finished my degree and started working for the family business, my mom’s let me be the boss.
I think I mentioned that we were working on another business thing where we had some investors interested in the project… Well… that concept underlying the business was my idea, so my mom and I agreed that I need to be in charge of it, although she’s the MD, which means she’s going to be the one to do the actual day-to-day running of the business once it’s up.
But basically, where we are requires a prototype of a site to be built for coders and also potential investors. And since this is a monster project and I hate people telling me “can’t do it,” we’re going to build the first prototype ourselves to help outsiders see what we’re envisaging.
Which is, again, where learning some site-building skills will come in. Fun fact, the site has so many working parts that I’m probably going to be able to build a seriously ambitious author site…as practice.
Depending on how much time I’m going to spend on the monster site, this is probably going to be the thing that gets a down-grade on my priority list. I’m going to try and not down-scale my freelancing in favor of my site because I still want to be a full-time writer (and the owner of a monster site.)
But. It it’s going to come down to a choice between my writing/publishing, the site, and the freelancing, I think you can see why the freelancing will be the first to give.
Hopefully, though, I’ll be able to get everything done. And the amazing amount of stuff I pulled off in July without feeling on the verge of collapse gives me hope.
Here’s something I haven’t really brought up in a while. Mostly because it’s embarrassing, how bad I am at taking care of myself.
Why? Because I know how bad certain foods are to me. I know how important it is, especially to me, not to just sit on my butt day-in and day-out. I know that eating healthily and exercising actually give me the energy I need to tackle major projects without getting drained. I know that sixteen-hour work days invariably come back to bite me in the butt at some point. In some really ugly ways. Especially when I’m not eating healthily or exercising.
But did that have any impact at all on my refined sugar intake, exercise habits, water consumption or work hours?
But when I finished up Book 3, I felt like I could rule the world, and then just kinda thought I could start by not screwing myself in the long run. I’d like to actually have a functional body when I’m old, so this is actually a bit of a priority.
No, I don’t mean this in the “starve-myself and get trim” kind of way. I’m talking about changing my diet permanently. Which means no refined carbs and sugars. I know a lot of people have a fit every time I mention not consuming carbs as a major part of my diet. But you know what? The only time I really feel normal, when I’m not feeling like I’m going to crash, or get a massive headache any moment now, or just feel like I don’t have the strength to do something, or even, for that matter, that I’m constantly hungry, even when I’m getting up from the table, is when I’m on a high-fat, low-carb diet. So that’s what I’m doing.
I’m not completely giving up carbs. I’m just getting mine in by consuming vegetables, fruit and honey instead of starch.
Yeah yeah, I’m beautiful as I am. Really I am. This isn’t a self-confidence thing as I was blessed with an ability to tie my confidence to issues other than my body.
Being at the heaviest weight I’ve ever been at the age of 28 is not good for my back, which is something I have injured in the past. (More on this in a bit.) Also, my family has a history of heart disease and diabetes, both of which are tied to unhealthy diets and obesity. And yes. I’m blessed with a body that evenly distributes fat when I gain weight, but I am, in fact obese.
So to save myself a lot of heartache and pain now, I’m going to get the weight down and keep it down. And so you know, I had just short of 40 kg (88 lb) to lose when I started on Sunday. So far this week, I’m 2.5 kg (5 lb 8 oz) down.
People always get told that they need 2 liters (half a gallon) of water a day, but did you know your requirement is actually determined by your weight? The heavier you are, the more water you require.
So when I decided to track my weight and fix my diet, I also got myself an app to track my intake and remind myself to drink water. This might seem extreme, but I tend to forget to drink water when I write. So now I don’t.
And just so you know, the goal for my current weight is 3.5 liters (7.4 liquid pints) per day. And if you think that’s impossible to do. It’s not.
As I mentioned before, I have injured my back in the past, so being overweight really doesn’t help. And the whole reason I got injured in the first place was because my core was weak. And all I’ve done in the years since is let my core weaken further.
I’ve signed up for an app called 30 Day Challenge. It has a variety of exercise challenges based on what you want to focus on and how fit you are. The exercises are really intensive, mostly body-weight-resistance exercises, which means that the five-minute sessions I’m currently on are really making a huge difference to my body.
One wouldn’t think that five minutes would help, but my core has gone from being able to support me for at most five seconds of plank to thirty seconds of plank in a week. And if you don’t think that’s impressive, I don’t think you’ve done the plank before.
The exercises never give me that “no-pain-no-gain” feeling, because they seem to be designed to be *just* enough to challenge the participant without demoralizing them. But every single day is just a little bit more challenging than the day before. And I assume that eventually, almost without noticing, I’ll be in a place where I’ll be able to do hours of exercise if I want without actually finding it to be daunting or impossible. (Which I do now.)
This is mostly weight training, though, so I’ve started dancing again to get some cardio in. This week, I went to my first ever line dancing class, but I have a huge hankering for ballroom again too, so I might take that as well.
Other than the eating, water drinking and exercise, I also really need to sort out a few other things. Firstly, my sleeping patterns. Because of my insane (and I don’t mean this as a self-compliment) work-ethic, I often work until 3 a.m. in the morning and start my day between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. I take almost no breaks from my computer once I sit down.
So. I have to institute a stricter work-hour rule, where I don’t pass a certain time, and where I then have to at least do something to rest in the evening. This can be reading or even some sort of craft. Or the dancing classes.
Point is, I know I’m going to burn out if I continue keeping the hours I’m keeping, so I’m going to adapt now before I’m forced to by my own exhaustion.
Balance is the thing I’m going for here, so I’m going to literally schedule in time to rest because otherwise I’m just going to forget. (Same way I forget to drink water.)
Whoa that’s a lot, so I’m going to stop here for now. But how did you do? Anyone feel like joining me on the 30 Day Challenge?
|Still ahead of schedule… Just.|
I’ve had a bit of a whirlwind week since last Friday, which is why I’ve been so quiet. The truth is that I had a few minutes in which to whip up a post for the blog, but I felt bad to update when I know for a fact that I won’t have the time to visit bloggers.
That said, I’ve made some epic progress this week.
It started on Saturday. See, I’ve been working on some huge editing projects, and the big one was waiting for me this week. 120 thousand words is nothing to sneeze at and the client was waiting. So I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to get everything done and still write.
The solution, spend my off time on the weekend to write enough to make up for par on Friday. That way, anything I wrote in the week would basically be a nice extra instead of a cause for alarm because I wasn’t making the daily word count goal.
I didn’t quite make it, but I did write 8,000 words in two days. And then I wrote 4,000 more on Monday.
As of yesterday, I was at just under 17k words in total.
Which is… a bit insane, really.
Especially when you think I was writing that much while editing someone else’s book.
But then yesterday went wrong.
I’m not going to go into it in detail, but my first writing block in the morning got knocked out without me being able to write. So I decided to sit down and push to finish the editing project.
The thought is that if I do that, I basically have today and the weekend to write.
But I ignored the niggling head-achy feeling forming behind my eyeballs.
The result: I had to go sleep at 8 p.m. (which knocked out my second writing session for the day). With the mother of a headache. People who’ve had one of these will get it: burning eyes, burning neck and shoulders, nausea and please God just let me die in my sleep because it’s night and I’m on a farm but the moonlight is too bright and it hurts.
Luckily for me, the good Lord knows when I’m not completely serious.
Unluckily for me, I’m doing my best to type this without looking at my screen too much because after almost fourteen hours of sleep and three pain meds, I’m still feeling like it’s there.
I’m a bit angry at myself.
I’ve been on this ride before. I know the signs. There were things I should have done. For one thing, when I noticed the head-achy feeling starting to throb in my temples, I should have taken something. For another, I should have enlarged the text I was editing so it wouldn’t stress my eyes so much. I should have dimmed my screen while I was at it. When I felt my shoulders, neck and jaw clenching, I should bloody well have stopped.
But I was just twenty pages out from being finished, so what harm would it do?
Some days, I’m a bloody fool.
How are you doing? Are you doing Camp NaNo? How’s it going?
Hey everyone! It’s the last Friday of the month, which means it’s time for an update for my Got Goals? bloghop. More information and sign-up guidelines can be found here.