Experience

What are my priorities?

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This was my morning the other day.  I like images with my blog posts, but nothing really fit it, so I picked this.

In 2015, 2014, and pretty much every year before it, I had a clear idea of what most important to me.  First, family.  Second, writing.  Third… changed depending and for the purposes of this doesn’t matter.  Just got into the counting of stuff that’s all.  Anyways, my point is that  I had my priorities figured out.

I’m not saying I ran my life like a boss, because usually it was too much one thing (writing, for example) and not enough others (cleaning and exercise, for more example).  Generally, I worked hard, adjusted, and kept at it while having a super clear vision. Except in 2015.  I pwned 2015 like it was a noob.

Then came 2016.  I thought I was just going to kill it.  My plan?  Same thing we I do every night, Pinky year. Try to take over the world. Up my game.

To be honest, it has been an amazing year for me.  Literally, something is always happening.  Mostly good, like getting chickens, my parents visiting, and getting a job.  But, there’s some bad in there too, like spending last week on steroids (please, never again) for the first time ever because I hurt my back so bad it gave me sciatica.  This year has been a total whirlwind!!!!  It has been nothing like how I planned, though.

In addition to priorities, 2015 and previous years had a routine to them.  Obviously from the hints in the previous paragraph, this year not so much.  And as I write this I can’t help but wonder.  Is it that having one (priorities) breeds the other (routine)?  Or was 2015’s success entirely because both were present?  Really doesn’t matter.  Either way, I’m sorely lacking both this year.

I’m also lacking discipline.  When writing was my only job, I could tell myself not watching anime, not playing video games, and taking time away from “fun” stuff made sense.  However, now that I have a job where doing those things is a benefit to me, I find it harder to tell myself I should be writing rather than watching SAKAMOTO DESU GA.  Rather than read a book, I’m more likely to pick up a comic.

And, because 2016 has just been that eventful, I didn’t realize any of this until the start of this month.  So, where have I been?  Busy.  Lost.  Am I back?  Sorry, still busy and lost.  But at least I know it now.  With how things have been, I’m not sure how long until I know what’s going on.  But, when I know, you’ll know.

Stay awesome!

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Categories: Experience, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Two More Goal Types: Concept and Habit

Yesterday morning, my husky got out of my yard and went missing.  She was found and returned to us, thankfully.  My morning was filled with panic, relief, and exhaustion from all the emotional stress.  So, I kind of forgot to post this.  Sorry it is a day late.

Last Wednesday I posted about how I work out my measurable goals.  And that got me to thinking about how I set up quarterly goals (which I use in my current 13 week plan and in my ROW80 participation).  And while measurable goals are a good part of it, there are two other goal types that make up the team.

I’m going to talk Habit Goals first, because I need them to explain Concept Goals. Plus, they are pretty quick to explain.  These are the goals you want to do as a habit.  Be they scheduled (Run 3+ Miles Thursday, Friday, and Saturday) or a quota (Visit and Comment On 4 Blogs Every Week or Walk 5 Days a Week).  This isn’t a one and done goal (with a deadline/finish line), but a habit I want to form or an on going activity I don’t wish to neglect.

Concept Goals are the the kind of goals most people come up with when they go to set a goal in the first place.  I’m talking “Read More,” “Be a Better Writer,” or “Lose Weight.”  I like to think of these as a theme for other deadline/ finish line measurable or habit goals to fall under.

Let’s take “Read More” as an example.  Let’s start with finishing a book with a deadline measurable goal.  The book is 400 pages, I want to read it in one month (4 weeks).  I’ll need to read 100 pages a week or 14.2 a day.  But, I usually do my goals in quarters, right?  So let’s do that for 3 books this make-believe quarter (that’s a quota style habit goal of 1 book a month).  However, I think I can read even more than that!  So, let’s add in a couple more habit goals.  Read 1 short story a week from any online publication and let’s read a poem a day, too!

See how I made an abstract more concrete and track-able?  And when I deal with goals keeping track is the most important part.

Anyways, now that I’ve covered my goal types, I can totally talk to you guys about how I set Quarterly Goals.  Not making promises, but we’ll see if that gets up there next week.

Do you like your goals track-able or not?  Why?
Is there a goal type you think I missed?

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How I Set Writing Goals

This post isn’t about abstract goals (“Be a better writer”) or ones to help form habits (“Read an hour a day” or “Run 3 times a week”).  This one is about things you want to get done (“Write a second draft of X”).  I do think abstract goals and habit goals are important, but I’ll talk about them next week.  These to do goals can be trickier to handle, so I’d thought about sharing my approach.  Thing is, I discovered I have two approaches to these goals.  I like to think of one as a deadline and the other a finish line.

Deadline goals are goals I want done by a certain date.  For example, let’s say I want to have have a 100 page novel edited and I want it done (starting November 1st) by November 30th.

First thing I do, is make sure I can write everyday.  Holidays, kids’ off from school, special events, and such are taken into account.  In this example, there’s (American) Thanksgiving, which gives my kids 3 days off school.  So, I would have 27 writing days.

My Calendar

My Calendar

Now simple math says I should edit 4 pages on 19 of those days and 3 pages on the remaining 8.  I bust out my calendar and arrow post-it notes.  I don’t do 4 pages 19 days straight.  I actually adjust so I do less on the weekends (3 pages then) and make sure the 4 pages fall on the days I have the most time to devote to writing.

Finish line goals are simpler.  I estimate my work pace or set a goal.  Let’s say I want to write a 30k novella for this example.  The pace for this is 2k Monday, Wednesday – Saturday and 1k on Sunday and Tuesday.  Additionally, I give myself a day off every 10k mark to keep myself from getting burn out.

First step is the calendar again.  Then, using my pace, I start mapping it out.  If I started November 1st (of this year) on November 4th I’d hit 10k, take a break November 5th, November 11th I’d hit 20k, take off November 12th, and reach my goal November 18th (no worrying about hitting the holiday in this example).

Regardless off type, having a good day could set me up to finish early or missing a day due to an unforeseen event could cost me.  Things don’t always go according to plan (hence the post-it arrow use, for adjusting). This is just a rough guideline.

So, that’s how I tackle stuff I want to get done writing.  Pretty simple, but took me years to figure it out.

Do you have a goal setting method?
Got any special goals at the moment?

Categories: Experience | Tags: , , | 5 Comments

The Gray Area ~ It’s Subjective

This is the image from a t-shirt (click to purchase). And it also shows my punny, geeky taste in humor.  It’s okay, you don’t have to like it. 😉

Why did the girl fall off the swing?
Because she was dead.

That jokes is:
A) Funny
B) In Horrible Taste
C) Not Funny/Not Horrible/Whatever

The correct answer is: Any of the above.  Humor is subjective.  Each person is different.

We hear that with writing too.  Right now I’m pointing at you, agent querying/tale submitting slush pile veterans!  I can’t tell you how many emails say something like Just because I don’t like it doesn’t mean everyone else will feel the same.  Good luck and keep trying.

Recently, a small publisher rejected a work of mine and they gave me a list of things I could fix.  This is a rare thing for anyone to do, so I was looking forward to the insight.  That was a short lived feeling once I go to  “Remove barriers of clichéd names.”

I can’t tell you how offended and hurtful that remark was.  This isn’t a moment of me being “I’m a special snowflake” or “I’m a misunderstood genius.”  These weren’t intended to be clichéd names.  I’m a punny, pop-culture gal and this was a reflection of it in my writing.  This critic felt like they attacked my sense of fun and whimsy.

Now, I’m not saying my name choices are right.  I’m not sure, but maybe whimsical names are not on trend or hard sells.  It might be a current “rule” in the age group/genre I was writing that I’m unaware of.  And by “rule” I mean like “Don’t start with the weather” or “Don’t start with the character waking up.”  Do I even have to bother adding rules can be broken?  You just have to break the rule in a super awesome way.

Okay, whoa!  Starting to get off track.

Anyways, the more I read of the critique the more I realized that I didn’t like how they were saying things.  Because, writing is subjective.  And they laid all their suggestions out in black and white.  When it comes to its vs. it’s, there’s one right answer.  However, to prologue or not?  For one agent there might be a yes/no answer, but not for every single one of them.

I probably would have taken it better if they said,  “Your name choices were a reason I couldn’t connect with the the story.”  Not that how I suggested is the right way.  Because, even the right way to deliver a critique is subjective.  Someone else might like more what I got.

How do you like critiques done?
Ever had a clash of tastes with a critique?

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Writing Organization (Part 2)

20151007_120614Last week, I introduced you to my writing organization supplies.  Today, I’m going to discuss how I use them.  Let’s dig in under the binder pouch!

We’ll be looking at the section for my current WIP, YELLOW.  Each section starts with a folder.  The folder is for papers I don’t want to hole punch or can’t for whatever reason.  In the case of YELLOW, it has two maps.

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20151007_133321After the folder are more papers!

The first papers in the section are notes.  That very first page right there is my “extras” name sheet, for those people you have to name on the fly.  Behind that is a piece of notebook paper with notes on characters, places, or things that I might want to keep track of for continuity’s sake.  Then, there are my cheat sheets (so I remember what people look like or what the name of buildings are).

Under my notes, is a tab divider labeled “OUTLINE.”  I think you are very smart, so I won’t insult your intelligence by saying what is under that.

I will, however, share why I bothered to label it.  Because, when it comes time to edit, I tuck the notes away behind their own tab.  The front and center spot (right after the folder) goes to themes/senses checklists, to do lists, and what not.

I do want to point out that I have a .doc “pre-writing” file that has some duplicate or more in depth information.  But, some information in that file, by now, is out of date/changed (and noted in those front papers, somewhere).  That’s the nature of writing right?  Things evolve.  I’ll probably go back, at the end of the draft, and make changes/fixes.

20151007_135611And I thought explaining that would be harder.  So here’s a peek at the back, where I keep all my extra supplies (more folders, paper, index cards, and tabs). —>

While I do have older projects in here, YELLOW is the first one to be done, properly, with this method in mind.  So, I’ll be learning a lot as I move onto other stages.  Though, the older projects (like ALCHEMY, which is in edits) are giving me a bit of direction to work with.

What do you keep on hand when writing?
How do you deal with changes?

Categories: Experience | Tags: , | 3 Comments