Update Day: Missed It by That Much

Sigh. One of these days, I’ll be able to actually get everything done in time. It would be so very nice. In case you guys are wondering what I’m on about, yesterday was the last Friday of the month, so that means it’s time for another Update Day. And because I’m an absolutely terrible blog hop host, I didn’t remember I was supposed to post an update until it was way too late for me to post an update. *Eye roll*

So how am I doing? Well, I actually did great for most of the month, but the wheels fell off a little bit this past week. I got distracted from my writing work, but you know what? I actually don’t regret it. This past week I gave myself permission to do things just because I want to instead of because I have a goal to achieve a certain thing. Which was actually so refreshing.

Maybe it’s a bit bad because it put me behind, but for now, I’m just going to go with it until the end of the month. My brain obviously needs the break.

At the same time, I’ve also got a lot of work done on the freelance side, and despite the fact that I’m behind, I still manage to write/edit over 40k words so far. So regardless of how I do for the rest of the month, I’m going to call this a win.

In short, I’m really proud of myself. I’m really making leaps and bounds when it comes to not only getting things done, but also on knowing when to ease off the acceleration. It’s a bit unfortunate that it meant that I didn’t quite get everything on time at the end of the month, though. :-/

But there’s one good piece of news for me, though, and it’s that I’m definitely starting to pull things back together, and any and all progress I might be making counts as a win.

How are you guys doing? 

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Update Day: Taking Stock

Since it’s the last Friday of the month, it’s time for another GotGoals? Bloghop update. If you’d like to know what that means or how to join the bloghop, please click here

I have to admit that today’s post is kicking my butt. I’ve tried writing it twice, but there are things going on in my life that I just want to share, so it keeps coming out every time I try to write this post and taking over. The other reason is that this is kind of an important milestone. 

On the one hand, it’s the middle of the year. It’s also the middle of my goal’s five-year period after I hit reset on how I approached my goals. So it stands to reason that I should stop and take stock of everything I’ve achieved. 

But… right now, that isn’t working for me. At the heart of it, I’m currently busy with some really large-scale things, so it’s been months since I’ve actually “achieved” anything that isn’t related to my freelance work. 

Still, this doesn’t mean I’m failing. Until recently, I did feel like a constant failure. There is always something more to do. There is always something I could do better. So lately, I’ve started to fall into a trap of not seeing the progress I’ve made because it kept feeling like I’m falling short. 

So I’m getting into the frame of mind of remembering that what I’m busy with right now is just as important as those goals I want to achieve. 

With that in mind, this is what I’m working on right now: 

Book 3 of The War of Six Crowns

I had really hoped that I could publish this by now, but yeah. Life. I’m making progress, though. It’s just taking longer than expected because of its length. It’ll be worth the wait, though. 

Work

Yeah. That’s really something that is taking over my life right now, but despite more than doubling my freelance rates, I’ve had two (or more) freelance jobs to do pretty much constantly since January. This is awesome, but it does have a massive impact on my productivity. That’s why I’m now doing the next thing…

Building My Writing Momentum

My thinking around this activity was what woke me up to how hard I’ve been on myself. This whole thing of “Three years ago, I could write/edit 2k a day.” Yeah. That’s true. But the thing is, I don’t count the writing and editing I do as a freelancer. If I really were to put a word value to the writing, editing, and research I do as a freelancer, I do 4.5k per day at minimum. (And sometimes as much as 16k.) Still, it’s not really good enough for me to rest on my freelance success. The whole reason why I started freelancing was so I could have the security and time I need to work on my own fiction. 
So when I say I’m building my momentum, I’m really talking about writing 3k per day on my own writing. Or… about 7.5k per day in total. Is that completely insane? Maybe? 

Sorting Out My Communications

Recently, I’ve had to start studying up on branding and communications for my contract work. And man, did I learn a lot about what I’m doing wrong. So now I’m working on fixing all those things. This was what I’ve been talking about every time I mentioned the big decisions I’m making. In a lot of ways, the changes I need to make are down right terrifying. But I know there’s no point to going on in the way I have been because it’s just not working. But because there’s so much to sort out, it’s taking longer than I wanted to take.

One thing that I am starting to sort out really fast is my YouTube Channel. At the moment, I’m hosting weekly live write-ins on Saturdays at 5 P.M. South African Time (which is 11 A.M. EST). So if you’d like to hang out with me and some writing buddies I made with Camp NaNoWriMo while getting some writing and editing done, head over here and subscribe and hit the notification bell. That way, you’ll know the moment I go live. Speaking of Camp NaNoWriMo…

Prepping for Camp NaNoWriMo

As part of my momentum-building effort, I’ve signed up for July’s Camp NaNo. I’m aiming to write 60k words next month, but starting at around 1k words a day and working my way up with small daily increments. The idea is that by the end of the month, I’ll be above the 2.5k per day level.

So yeah. Big things are going on here. Pretty exciting, really. What about you? Do you have any major stuff going on as you’re going after your goal?

Update Day: Madness

Friday was the last Friday of the month, which means it was time for another Update Day. But I was so busy that I could do little more than to wave at the day as it passed me by.

In fact, the only reason why I’m even able to write this post now is because I have to back up the work I finished doing five minutes ago. It’s past 10 p.m. on a Saturday night.

That said, it’s not all bad news. The big reason why I’ve been this busy is that I had a record freelancing month. In fact, I did so well that I smashed my monthly earnings goal. YAY!

I’m really hoping I get more of these kinds of jobs in the future, and no, not just because of the money. (Although knowing I’ll be able to stomp out some fires in the coming month is a nice feeling.) The truth is that I really enjoyed the work. The only thing is that next time, I’ll make sure to give myself enough hours to get everything done. Because BOY did this take a lot to do.

Partially because of this, I didn’t hit any of my other goals for this month. I have some major changes coming up that I’m going to announce soon, but April ended up being so crazy that I couldn’t actually make the final decisions I needed to make.

So that’s going into my to-do list for May.

Other than that, I did actually manage to get some editing done for Camp NaNoWriMo. The sad thing is that I did less than half of what I’d planned, simply because this freelance job meant that I had to give up my writing hours too.

Still, I’m seeing this month as a win. Sure, I had to give up some of my writing productivity, but I’m counting this as an investment towards a more stable future.

How did your month go? Any interesting news to share?

Update Day: Taking Action

Usually, Update Day is on the last Friday of the month, but even though last Friday really sneaked up on me, I actually did remember. It’s just that I’ve been so crazy busy this month that I had my first mini burn-out on Friday and that lasted straight into the weekend. 

Yes, I’m fully aware that having the first burn-out of the year within the first month of the year has to be some sort of record. But let me explain. 

I managed to rest for all of three days before the extra jobs (as in the ones not associated with my main contract) came in. And boy did they. I had something like a bumper month where I never had fewer than two jobs to do at any one given time, and all of them were on short deadlines. 

The problem with that was… I need to work a certain number of hours at the contract job to ensure I get the monthly income I need to make rent etc. and my editing work just seriously started cutting into my work hours. Except… if I only did my editing work that came in, I wouldn’t make rent. So there was the problem. 

I didn’t want to let anyone down, but I also didn’t want to not get my contract hours in. So…. I started working between 18 and 20 hours per day (including weekends) to get everything done. I managed that, but then had to increase my daily contract work hours to make up the shortfall because the editing still took up most of two weeks. 

And then I suddenly had three projects that I had to finish writing in a week (plus the research). This I managed. But I literally had to work non-stop on Friday to get everything in. 

So when I was done, and I still had my blog post to write, I just felt like crying. 

At which point I decided to give myself the entire weekend off with no screens (except Netflix) so that I could recover. 

Fortunately for me, I did. 

But the thing is, it made me realize that I had to change something for my own well-being. 

I worked until I was exhausted and that also made me feel sick. And if I kept it up, I definitely would have derailed in some way or the other. But that did give me the impetus I needed to make a change I’d been worried about for months now… 

My freelance rates and turnaround times. 

See, when I got started, I really stressed how fast I can work and how relatively inexpensive I was. It was my way of getting into the market. It was good, and for quite some time, I never felt the impact. First, because I didn’t have anything else to do. Then because I basically entered a quiet editing time while working on my contract.

But this month when everything crashed together, I realized that I could no longer deliver work in seven days unless I was compensated for the fact that I was taking time away from my other contracts. 

So I completely restructured the way I charge for my work, which you can check out on Fiverr

I used to be somewhat worried about making this change. What if my clients didn’t come back? What if I didn’t get any more orders? 

But the last month has shown me that I’m willing to only work on my contract rather than 1) burn out because I have too much to do or 2) take a knock on my income because I wanted to keep my editing prices low.

So that’s basically what my January was about. How about you? Are you also working on changing things this year? How is it going?

Update Day: Long-Term Planning vs Short-Term Gratification

It’s the last Friday of the month, which means that it’s Update Day. In case you’re wondering what it’s all about, a few of us writerly types went and set some major goals and we share updates on our progress toward those goals once a month. If you would like more information or to join in, click here.

So how’d I do?

Uh.

Yeah so I honestly have no idea where November went. I don’t know if it’s because of my life getting another curveball (a good one this time, fortunately), or if I’m just really that exhausted, but it keeps feeling like I’m stuck in a reactionary kind of mindset.

On the one hand, that’s not too bad. At least the things I’m having to react to right now are mostly positive. But the problem is that I can’t build anything when I’m spending 90% of my time reacting to unexpected events (and 10% recovering from that).

This is frustrating to me on a very deep level because I literally derive value out of building things toward my future.

But.

That said, that curveball I mentioned was about having to make an unexpected but massively important decision that might end up literally (Yes. I mean LITERALLY.) changing the world. So maybe I should cut myself some slack.

I guess the issue is that lately, the nature of the things I’ve been working on building toward have opposite qualities to the writing goals I’ve been pursuing. With my writing goals, I had this massive goal and no real certainty of how, or even if I’d be able to make it. So in lieu of that, I engaged in short-term goals that would give me a short-term sense of accomplishing something. For example, wanting to write 1,000 words per day meant that I might eventually be able to become successful as a writer. But in the meantime, I still had something written and created to show for my short-term efforts.

This thing I’m building on the side with my family… I’m 90% sure that it’s going to be hugely successful if we can cross a few hurdles in the way. Here’s the thing, though. Even if I do achieve something now, the impact is long-term. So in a month like this, where a significant portion of my mind-space was devoted to this project, I keep feeling like I spent my time on nothing. I guess because I’ll only really see what I did today much later.

I’m kinda in the same place with the other thing that I’ve been focusing on this month. I joined a yoga challenge, where I do yoga for 30 days straight. I do feel better after every session, but I don’t really “see” the impact until maybe a week or so later.

And really, my mind’s not liking this lack of immediate gratification. I suspect it might be part of the reason why I’ve been so exhausted and drained. Last weekend, I took the two days to randomly pick items off my to-do list that have been waiting for months now. The happy coincidence of doing this was that most of the things I did meant I had something once I was done. Like unpacking boxes in my room meant that I have a slightly tidier room and the feeling that at least one thing (one box) was finished. Another thing I worked on was the wireframe for my temporary author website. This is something I’ve basically been threatening/promising myself to do since April. It’s almost done. And every page I created for the site feels like a rush. So much so that I have no idea about whether it’s any good, but just seeing something literally take shape under my hands was so good.

Takeaway lesson for me: Do something with a short-term benefit every now and then. Sometimes we get so stuck on long-term goals that we forget to just do things for the here and now. In December, I’m going to take off for a few days from Christmas into New Year, and I think for that week, I’ll basically be indulging my whims around just creating whatever I feel like.

But for that to happen, I’m going to have to graft in the rest of the month to make up the “lost” hours from that week. So that means I’m going to continue being quiet until around New Year’s Eve, as per my tradition of resetting my goals at the end of the year.

See you then! How are your goals going? Have any plans for December? 

Update Day: It’s Spooky How Fast the Year Is Going…

It’s the last Friday of the month, which means it’s time for another Update Day. For those of you who don’t know, a bunch of us set big/crazy/important goals, and then share monthly updates on our progress toward that goal. If you would like to join us, please click here for more information.

So how my goals are progressing… Well. Depends on which goals we’re talking about. The move went well, but I haven’t finished unpacking. Health goals got derailed by the move, but I’m getting back into it. My exercise goals took a hit this week thanks to a heat wave.

Overall, my life has quieted down a lot since moving house, but within days of arriving here, one of my cats got gallstones. This ended up making it really hard for me to get anything done, because each of the several times I had to take him to the vet or fetch him back took two hours both ways out of my day.

That said, I had another record work month. At the rate I’m going, I’m going to hit the goal I mentioned missing last month and then some. This goal is the last milestone I had left before the final one. Which means that the next time I say I hit goal, I will actually have hit the big one at the top of my blog. Yes. That is huge.

So where will I go after that?

That will take some explaining. When I set up that goal, I made it a bit less daunting by double counting. So in a month, I count future income, income I earn the same month I generated it, and then income that I generated before once it comes in.<

So let’s say I make $5 in royalties in May. I’ll count it as future income in May, and then I count it again in July when I actually get that $5 in my bank account.

Why did I do this? Basically I was approaching this as a goal, and my brain loves the feeling of adding amounts to my tracking sheet. So if I do it twice, my brain is happy. If my brain is happy, I get more done. And I knew from the beginning that half the goal in actual income is a hella comfortable living for me.
Basically, once I hit the goal, I have two options: 

  1. I can change my approach and aim for $7,500 a month in real income. As in the number I have coming into my bank account each month.
  2. I can change my focus and start working on the percentage of my real income that comes from royalties.

I’m thinking I’m going to do both for continuity sake, but I’m leaning toward prioritizing point 2. The whole point of this exercise had been a full-time writer (achieved) of my own fiction (not achieved.) So focusing on upping the percentage income from book sales should help me focus on what I actually want.

That said, I really enjoy what I do for most of my money, so I don’t think I’ll want to stop working on that. But my life is sorting itself out, which means there’s really no excuse for me to not write my stories. And once I can finally get into the place of regularly publishing, I’m going to be really happy if/when the passive income from my published books start coming in.

Speaking of Writing More…

I joined NaNoWriMo. No idea if I’ll be able to win, but I recon any progress will be good.

Are you guys doing NaNo? Let me know your name so we can buddy up. 

How are your goals doing? What are you hoping to squeeze into the last two months of the year?

Do One Thing.

Right now, it’s feeling like I’m on the cusp of something new. Sure, I have a lot of fallout to deal with, but for now at least, it’s not looking like I have any new curveballs coming my way.

This is great, of course.

But at the same time, it’s feeling a lot like I’m emerging from a bomb shelter after a nuclear winter has passed.

I mean… where do I even begin?

It’s daunting to face the task of rebuilding something. Of trying to regroup and get back on even footing. Especially when your somewhat traumatized mind keeps whispering that things are going to go back to hell any second now.

Did I ever mention I’m not an optimist? Can you tell?

Seriously, though, I do realize that I have to believe that my five years of famine have come to at least some sort of an end. Which means I should be looking forward again and moving my way in that general direction.

But man. Moving forward is a lot of work. At the moment, the work is physical, emotional, and psychological. Physically, I have a ton of unpacking to do. Emotionally and psychologically, I’m working toward letting go of five years’ worth of crap so I can heal and move on. While dealing with a mind that very much wants to jump into fight-or-flight mode at the smallest opportunity.

Still, the past few days, I’ve… started feeling like my old self. By this I mean the person I was about three years ago where I felt battered, but firmly believed that I’ll still be able to achieve something. I’m hoping that, if this was an action movie, I would be getting up around now to kick life’s ass after it gave me a pummeling.

Time will tell whether this is indeed what’s happening, but in the meantime, I’m sticking to the one thing I’ve learned by necessity.

Do one thing. 

Even if that’s the only thing I manage to do in a day, at least I did that. (Instead of… you know… curling up in a corner and crying the whole time.)

When things were really shit, I did this. It meant I mostly worked and got very little else done. But the result is that I built a new career out of thin air. One that makes me happy and helped things settle down to the extent that now I don’t have to be at panic stations the whole time.

The other interesting thing is that now that things are calming down a bit, I can do one thing much quicker and easier… And then I can do another. And another…

Which means that, after focusing on only doing one thing, I can look back at a day like today and be shocked at how much I actually ended up getting done. It becomes as simple as keeping track of what I’ve done, and actually doing something instead of fussing about it.

Et voila. My semi-inspirational thought for the day.

How are you doing? What are you busy with at the moment?