Tuesday, December 30, 2014

New Year's resolutions

Every year, I blog about my New Year's resolutions, and most years it seems like I fail miserably.  I've tried making them more specific and checking in every week or so, but then I feel like they consume my life, and still don't turn out as well as I'd like.

Granted, this past year has been very busy and has involved a lot of changes in my life, so I probably have good reason for not having achieved my goals this year.  However, with this past year in mind, I want to do something a little different in 2015.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Upcoming holidays and some changes

I can't believe how fast the last couple weeks have gone, or that Christmas is right around the corner!  I've been working hard since NaNo ended, although not, unfortunately, on finishing my ebook.  I'm hoping to step things up on that in the next couple days.

I do have some changes to my schedule forthcoming.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Some more changes to my schedule

About two months ago, the family I nanny for cut my hours back by nearly half -- from five afternoons a week to just three, and shorter afternoons all around.  I've been freelancing with my extra time, but I was in a situation this week where I was having to decide whether to take on a new family on Tuesdays and Thursdays (my off days).

I was delaying making the decision because I wasn't really sure what I wanted to do.  The extra income would be good, especially if I weren't sure whether I would be working for my other family much longer -- with the kids getting older, I wasn't sure whether they were going to start phasing out my role, or at least to the point where it's no longer a primary income source for me anymore.

Today, though, I got some news that changes all that.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Deadbeat client warning

A blog I used to follow -- Irreverent Freelancer by writer friend Kathy Kehrli -- was just resurrected in order to give a warning about a deadbeat client: Q2A/Bill Smith Group, which changed its name to QBS Learning.

It sounds like there was an all-too-convenient "merger" right around when payment was due.  Funny when the timing works out that way, isn't it!

In any case, Kathy is still owed more than $1,200 plus interest.  She even offered them a steeply discounted settlement if they could pay in full right away... Nothing.

Sounds like she's not the only one, either.  Visit her blog post on the Q2A/Bill Smith Group a.k.a. QBS Learning for the full story, as well as links to a thread with more writer complaints.

Monday, December 08, 2014

A run of bad days

I have to admit I haven't gotten back to work on my ebook -- and my writing challenge -- in several days now, basically since the first and only day I met my goal.  A bunch of deadlines and feeling somewhat sick on top of it all conspired to keep me away from it.  Luckily I got an unexpected day off from my nanny job today, so I think I should have a chance to get caught up.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

My first missed day of my writing challenge

Yesterday -- my second day, technically, of the 250 words writing challenge -- I had to skip work on my ebook.  After a long day I was almost completely bowled over with an allergy attack, so I took a Benadryl and watched Big Bang Theory (my newest favorite TV show that I'm marathoning) until I fell asleep.  I can't really be too mad at myself, since 1) Tuesday was so productive and 2) I didn't watch anything or take any down time for virtually the entire month of November.  So I was due for a bit of a break.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

On productivity and sleep: Life post-NaNoWriMo

Yesterday was an incredibly productive day, which was gratifying after feeling like I was barely keeping up all throughout November.  I got plenty of client work done, updated my own blogs, and I achieved my word count goal for the day (and then some -- I got 400-some words instead of just 250).

It was a good feeling to be so productive, for sure.  Today being a nanny day for me (a day when I had to pick up the kids from school), it's been largely unproductive so far, but I'm planning on getting some work done still this evening before I call it a night.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Writing challenges for the rest of the year

After failing to reach 50K during NaNoWriMo this year, I decided I need a year-round motivator for me to keep writing every day, or at least nearly every day.  So when Debbie Ridpath Ohi -- who does my favorite web comic, Will Write for Chocolate, and who also used to do the daily NaNo comics -- posted her writing challenge, I was glad for the reminder.



I've seen her post her challenge before: Basically, you choose whether you're going to shoot for 250, 500, or 1,000 words a day.  Finally I think I'm going to do it!  I need something to keep me motivated and keep me working so that I can build year-round habits and continually make progress on my own projects.

Monday, December 01, 2014

How I failed (and still almost won) NaNoWriMo

In November this year, I set out to write a nonfiction ebook during NaNoWriMo, instead of my usual novel.  I've been doing NaNoWriMo every year since 2006, plus camp, and I've won several of those along the way.  I felt it was time to do something different... and perhaps use the motivational burst of NaNo to make headway on one of the many projects that have been hanging out on the back burner while I focus on client work.

There were some lessons to be learned by doing nonfiction instead of fiction, but overall I think it was a win for me -- even if it wasn't a win by the conventional method (getting to 50,000 words in November).

Friday, November 28, 2014

Lessons learned in NaNoWriMo 2014

NaNoWriMo is a new experience every year.  Whether I win or lose, there is always a lesson to be learned in it.

Considering I still have more than 40k to go until the goal, and there are only three days left until the end of the month, I think I will be losing this year.  I feel this year, though, as I felt after NaNoWriMo 2012,  that I learned as much (if not more) from my failure as I do when I win.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Why I love Scrivener: Let me count the ways

I have loved Scrivener since I first started using it, a little over two years ago.  In fact, when I upgraded to a new computer, I skipped Word altogether, and use Scrivener for all of my client work as well as my novels and other projects.  Even short blog posts for clients get written in Scrivener.

Here is a great blog post that lists a few of Scrivener's most useful features, especially for NaNoWriMo participants.  Another blog post on Scrivener that I find useful is this one, about using Scrivener with Dropbox so that your projects are always stored in the cloud, and you don't have to worry about ever losing your work.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Working the write-ins

I've been trying to go to a lot of write-ins this year during NaNoWriMo, more than I usually do.  I was originally planning on not working on client work at these write-ins, but sadly that hasn't always been the case.  However, I've made sure to always work on my NaNo project for at least a little during the write-in.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Feast

Ironically, since it's been the first two weeks of NaNoWriMo, I've been super busy lately -- my freelance work picked up right at the beginning of the month.  With lots of deadlines, I've been struggling with keeping up on both my NaNo project and my blogs.  Nonfiction is proving to be much harder to write for NaNo than fiction, so even when I do get time (or make time) to write, it's slower going.  As I tell my NaNo friends, it makes a difference that I can't just make something up when I get stuck!

Friday, November 07, 2014

NaNoWriMo 2014: Making progress

After several days of not working much on my NaNoWriMo project, I finally made some progress.  I wrote a little over a thousand words on Tuesday, and another thousand or so yesterday.  My progress both days occurred largely at and after write-ins, of course.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Write-ins and resolutions

There's a lot of write-ins planned this year.  The Denver region of NaNoWriMo has gotten quite large and active since I first started participating in 2006, and it's amazing to see the amount of activity on the forums and all the write-ins that get scheduled.

Aside from the Friday write-ins that I plan every year, this year I also plan on attending write-ins on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, and Saturday afternoons.  There are sometimes spontaneous or one-off write-ins that happen, too, and I am going to join a friend for one or two of those this weekend as well.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Freelancing fail and NaNoWriMo's slow start

Last week was a rough week, and not very productive.  My mom moved and so I spent a lot of time helping her, putting off freelancing work as well as outlining this year's project for NaNoWriMo.  As a result, I had to cram to get all of my freelance work done by the deadline over the weekend, and I also spent my writing time at the NaNo kickoff party outlining my project instead.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Disappointing productivity, and what to do about it

Today was my second full day of freelancing, and it was noticeably unproductive.

Part of it is that I was up late two nights in a row reading a really compelling book, so I let myself sleep in without aid of an alarm to get myself up.  I haven't done that in a long time, and as a result I slept late.  I kind of expected that, though.

The other part of it is that when I don't have a time limit on my freelancing, such as a time at which I need to get up and go pick up the kids I nanny for from school, I feel less pressure to get to work quickly and get it done quickly.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

First full day of freelancing

This week is when my nanny schedule changes, and today is my first full day of freelancing.  I have a lot I want to get done today, basically getting organized for a new chapter in freelancing and the upcoming project for NaNoWriMo (although I still haven't fully settled on what that will be).

Friday, October 17, 2014

My lazy day

Wednesday I was able to enjoy a very much needed lazy day.  The mother I work for decided to pick the kids up from school herself, since they had family in town, and unexpectedly gave me the day off.  I celebrated by staying home all day, working in my pajamas, and even taking a nap -- such luxury!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

NaNoWriMo: What to write?

The NaNoWriMo website and forums were finally reset.  They usually do this a little earlier, to give us time to start planning and posting write-in details, but this year they ran a little late.  No matter -- everyone has still been busy in the interim, and once the forum was updated, it turned out we already had a kickoff party and a bunch of write-ins planned for our area.

I'm so excited NaNo is coming again, but this leaves me with the burning question: What am I going to write?

Little hiccups of freelancing

I've been struggling with wifi issues for almost the past week.  These are the little hiccups of freelancing -- the fact that sometimes, usually when you least expect it, something can happen to render you unable to work (or work effectively).

Luckily, the new modem should be here soon, but in the meantime I've let clients know the situation, and gotten a few extensions on deadlines.  I've spent some time at local coffee shops, but because I've been so busy lately, coffee shop hours have been an issue -- and of course, the wifi likes best to conk out at night, when I don't have many alternatives available to me.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Crazy days abound

I have had a hard time maintaining a schedule of any sort the last week or so.  My freelancing time last week was cut rather short, since the kids I nanny for had a half day on Thursday and no school on Friday, and I worked some long hours.  This week will be much the same, as I agreed to babysit for another family until 2pm Thursday and Friday, as their daughter's school is closed.

Monday, October 06, 2014

Warning: Busy week ahead

Last week didn't turn out too badly, but I felt like I wasn't at home to work in the mornings as much as I should have been.  Still, I got a lot done, which was mostly because I worked a lot in the evenings.

This week is slated to be a busy one, though, with not a lot of time to stay home and work in the mornings.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Hard decisions

Today I made the hard decision to stay home and work, even though I wanted to go ride my horse.

So far I'm pretty glad I did.  I've gotten a lot done so far, and I even have a little more time before I have to pick up the kids from school.  If I can get enough done today, I may even make it up to myself by going to the barn tomorrow morning instead.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Just one more...

Lately I've been writing short blog posts for a client -- and when I say short, I mean 200 words on average.  They are quick little things to write, and when I really get on a roll, I find myself saying, "Just one more... Just one more... Just one more."

Not that it's a bad thing to get that carried away with work, but sometimes -- like tonight -- it means that before I know it, it's quite late, and all I've done is work.

Friday, September 26, 2014

A productive end to my week

Well, I have to say that as far as weeks go, this one wasn't bad.  I think I easily made up for being sick all last week by being pretty productive all this week.

The only thing I don't have under control quite yet is my sleeping schedule.  I am hoping that this weekend -- which is going to force me to get up earlier -- will help to rectify that, or that getting off the cold medicine will help.  Last night was my first night not taking it, but I stayed up so late working that I wasn't able to get up as early as I wanted today.  I did get up a little earlier than the rest of the week, but not by much.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Play all morning, work all night

Today I threw my daily schedule out the window: I played hooky before picking the kids up from school, and I'm making up for it by working in the evening.

Honestly, though, I love that freelancing allows for that kind of decision.  I don't mind working in the evening.  Although some people would consider that their time to relax, I am relaxed -- I'm just kicking back on the couch with my computer.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Muse Online Writers Conference canceled for 2014

Yesterday I thought to go looking for information on the 2014 Muse Online Writers Conference.  I participate in this conference nearly ever year, and have since their very first year, so I was disappointed to find in my searching that the 2014 conference has been canceled.  It wasn't a very prominent announcement, I felt, so I thought I would share the news here in case my writerly friends weren't aware of it yet.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A week of possibilities, take 2

Let's try this again.

It's not Monday morning, but rather late Tuesday evening, so I don't quite have the whole week stretched out ahead of me... but it's still a week (roughly) of possibilities.  And I did have a fairly productive morning today, especially considering how late I woke up (something I am still working on).

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Sick week

Despite all the promises of the coming week -- a week with nothing to do except to settle in to my new freelancing schedule and maybe see my horses a little too -- I got nothing done.  Why, you ask?

Well, this time at least it wasn't my fault.  It was because I got sick.

And not just a little sick.  Really, ridiculously sick.  Sick as in "I hardly left my bed all week."

Monday, September 15, 2014

Enforced settling in, and a week of possibilities

I'm making myself settle in this week.  It's high time I starting utilizing that daily schedule I made myself before summer ended.  If it doesn't seem like it's going to work for me, I can tweak it as necessary, but I have to actually try using it before I can do that.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

A surprise day off from the kids, and how I've squandered it

Despite my good intentions yesterday, and a slightly earlier bedtime last night, I still slept a bit later than I'd hoped today.  That, combined with an unexpected minor crisis at the barn, ate most of my day.

Luckily I woke up this morning to a text saying that I didn't have to pick up the kids from school this afternoon, so I could afford to waste a little bit of time -- but I squandered rather more of it than I would have liked.  It was solidly afternoon before I finally got to work on freelance marketing and client work.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Morning routines

After some things in my personal life intervened, I am finally this week settling into a morning routine again.  Unfortunately it's not at all like the daily schedule I set up for myself, so I may have to work on that.  I've actually been staying up quite late and doing some work in the wee hours of the morning, when it's quiet, and sleeping later than I'd like as a result.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Do you write at coffee shops?

There are a lot of professional writers who pooh-pooh the idea of writing at coffee shops.  Supposedly all writers who do so are actually posers, or at the very least, unproductive.

Disclaimer: I am at a coffee shop right now.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

More changes

My life is in a period of upheaval right now, and it seems it's not over yet.  I found out yesterday that the family I nanny for will be reducing my hours, starting in mid-October.  In addition, they are eliminating their daughter's (V.'s) riding lessons, although they are going to continue the partial lease on Rondo for the time being.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Implementing a daily schedule

As summer was winding down, and I was planning to ramp up my freelancing and my work on my novel as soon as the kids I nanny for when back to school, I started thinking about my daily schedule come fall.  I used a daily schedule long ago, perhaps a year or two into my freelancing career, when I was freelancing full-time and had just brought my horse Panama to Denver.  I needed a way to balance my barn time with my work time, and so I created a daily schedule.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

On working 9 to 5

The other day I read this excellent article, Why the 9-to-5 Day Is So Tough on Creative Workers.  And really, it's not just about creative workers, but all "knowledge" workers -- anyone who uses their brain in their job, as opposed to their body.

Basically, the article talks about the rhythms people go through during the day, and points out that a person's regular sleep schedule is actually more important than how much they sleep.  The first few hours after a person typically wakes up are when cognition is at its worst, which is why people tend to feel like they have a hard time getting going on work in the morning.  I know a lot of writers (myself included) who say they have to "warm up" with easy tasks such as checking and responding to email first thing in the morning.  Some even allow themselves a little time on Facebook or blogs.  It sounds like this might not be as much "warming up" as just waiting for one's brain to start functioning at higher levels.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Back to normal

Yesterday was technically the kids' first day back to school, but they only had a half day, so I actually ended up working about the same day that I did all summer.  Today, therefore, is my first day back to my normal school-year schedule: I don't work until I pick the kids up from school at 3pm.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Time off

This is the last week of my summer schedule, and to complicate things, I had to put my old kitty, Cleo, to sleep over the weekend.  She had been struggling for the better part of the past year with some kind of progressive paralysis, and she was finally getting to the point where she could no longer eat.  I tried syringe feeding her for a few weeks, but even that -- which she liked at first -- became problematic when her immune system could no longer keep up with her body's demands, such as an infection in her mouth from a broken tooth.

I don't want to write the entire story more than once, so you can read about Cleo's final illness and passing over on Cleo's old blog, the one I created for her back when she had fatty liver disease.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Counting down

At long last, the end of the summer -- and the return of normality, routine, and free time -- is in sight: The kids go back to school on August 25th, which means I have only two more weeks of summer.

And actually, less than that now.  I have eight more days of my summer schedule, to be precise.  And what's left of my summer should be relatively easy, since I have a rare (of late) easy weekend coming up.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Back to the grind

Today is my first day back at work -- my nanny work, that is.  I did work both days over the weekend, and of course I had freelance work all week, but somehow being back to work at the nanny job -- the five-days-a-week, fairly demanding (especially since it's summer) job -- feels more like work than either the freelancing or the babysitting over the weekend.

I had a good vacation, but I do have some regrets.

Friday, July 25, 2014

My vacation week in review

Since today is the last day of full-on vacation (I don't go back to my nanny job until Monday, but I work both days this weekend), I thought it would be a good time to review the week.  I had a good vacation week, but it seemed altogether too short, and I'm afraid in some respects I wasn't as productive as I wanted -- even though I have to be fair to myself and admit that (as usual) I was overly optimistic about what I could achieve.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

My writing vacation

All the writing work I've done this week -- client work, writing for my own blogs, and working on my novel for Camp NaNoWriMo -- has made me ponder why it is that I consider time to write to be vacation time.  It would be more understandable if I were spending the time just working on my fiction, or at least my own projects, but I'm not: I've spent quite a bit of my vacation week working on freelance work.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Success!

It took me a little while yesterday, but I finally did find my motivation.  In the end, I wrote three blog posts for my own blogs, a handful of posts for a client, and worked on my novel for a solid hour and a half.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

ISO: My motivation

I don't know what it is about today --if I'm rebounding from my busy summer so far, or if it's because I know I'm on vacation, or both -- but today I woke up without my motivation.

I had planned to spend today on client work, novel writing, and some cleaning and other projects around the house.  When I woke up, however, I felt so blah that I ended up just turning on the TV for a little bit (something I rarely do).  After a couple hours (!), I made myself turn it off and work on some of my client work.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Commence vacation week!

This week I'm on vacation from my nanny job -- actually, from most of my jobs, since two of the families I babysit for are out of town, as well.  I don't have any work -- other than taking care of my primary employers' dog while they are out of town -- until the weekend.

Except for writing work, of course.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The science of breaks

Yesterday there was an article going around Facebook about how taking smartphone breaks at work can make you feel more positive about your workday.  It's something a lot of us freelancers already know: We are more productive when we allow ourselves breaks in between focused working sessions.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Writing for me vs. writing for them

I haven't always made a ton of progress on my fiction over the past two and a half years, but I have definitely had more time to work on it after I backed off on freelancing and started working as a nanny part-time, back in November 2011.  Before that, when I was freelancing full-time, it was as though I felt I couldn't work on my own projects while I always had client work waiting in the wings.

Since I took the nanny job, however, I have been freelancing less and less.  I started out intending to freelance part-time, so I kept on a few clients.  I didn't do any marketing, though, and they slowly fizzled out.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Hump week

This week marks the halfway point through summer, if you don't count the week off I have while the family I work for is on vacation.  And boy, am I feeling it!  Just like on "hump day" halfway between Monday and Friday, I'm dragging.  I've been working a lot of hours this week, and although the weeks go quickly in retrospect, I feel like I'm too busy.  I have that feeling like I'm just treading water and waiting for summer to end, so I can get on with the business of swimming.

Monday, June 09, 2014

Summer begins

The kids I nanny for got out of school last Tuesday, but today is my first actual day of my summer schedule -- they had family in town end of last week, so they gave me the rest of the week off.  I wanted to get more done than I actually did -- freelancing, marketing, maybe even work on my novel a little -- but I didn't actually do that badly, either.  It's a start.

It's going to be a busy summer -- fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Managing my time as a freelancer again

I've taken a few freelance gigs here and there, so once again I am managing my time as a freelancer.  This is the first time I've taken regular freelance work (more than just a one-off job) in a long time, probably almost two years.  With everything else going on in my life at the moment, I'm finding it challenging to maintain freelancing, marketing, and blogging alongside nannying and babysitting, and working on my novel has gone out the window entirely since I started freelancing.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Crowdfunding at its finest

Many of you are probably already aware of the amazing Reading Rainbow Kickstarter campaign, which was fully funded on its very first day.  This will enable LeVar Burton to revive the show online (which is where the kids are at now -- during my childhood, they were all watching TV) and make it available for free to disadvantaged classrooms nationwide.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Finding balance: Writing projects of my own

You may have wondered what I meant when I referenced my own writing projects that I need to make time for.  I actually have quite a few of my own projects, most of which have the potential to generate a small but steady income stream, so a healthy balance between freelancing and my own projects is definitely desirable.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Finding balance

Sometimes I feel like all of my writing endeavors are just too big for my life, so that every time I try to catch up on one thing, something else gets neglected.  It's like one of those children's games where every time you push something back in one hole, something else pops out of another.

I'm making progress, though, being more productive.  I just need to get a handle on being productive on everything and finding balance between all of my many different projects.  Also, I think I generally need to expect that I will be completely unproductive on the weekends, when my schedule generally fills up very quickly.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Birds, priorities, and just doing it

This morning on Facebook I saw the article "How to Think Like a Writer" making the rounds.  It was nice timing, because I am sitting down this morning for the first time in a few days to do some writing before I go to pick up the kids.

The advice in the article is really good.  I especially like the advice, "Just take it bird by bird."  The reference is to a paper on birds the author's brother was writing, but the advice holds true to all writers.  One sentence, blog post, article section, or page at a time -- whatever helps you to get your writing done.  Trying to measure progress by an entire article, book, or another finished project can flatten anyone's motivation.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

National Small Business Week

I found out via Facebook that this is National Small Business Week.  I didn't even know that such a thing existed, but apparently there are events in a few cities, as well as a number of online broadcasts and workshops tomorrow (today, by the time you early morning people read this).  There were a couple other live broadcasts yesterday and today that I missed -- it might be worth checking into whether the recordings are available after the workshops are over.

From the post on White House Blog:

Today, companies like Twitter can help entrepreneurs start real conversations with consumers to build customer loyalty. Entrepreneurs can do business in their pajamas; all you need is a great idea, a marketable skill, a laptop and the know-how to use it. On our live stream this week, we’ll host workshops that explain how entrepreneurs can promote and grow their business in the mobile and digital space.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Midnight productivity

A day or two after making my announcement last week that I was ready to get back to freelancing, I got busy again and didn't get anything done for days.  I hate the feeling that things are piling up while you don't have time to take care of anything, so as soon as I was able I got to work and started ticking things off of my to-do list.

That "as soon as I was able" just happened to be this evening and on late into the night.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Back to freelancing again: It's time

I've been saying for months now that I miss freelancing.  Even though I had continued freelancing for some of my favorite long-time clients when I took the part-time nanny job two and a half years ago, I had all but stopped entirely in the past year.  Somewhere along the way, I'd lost the ability to manage my time quite so well -- probably while I was freelancing full-time and got into the habit of putting things off because I had "all day to get it done" -- and one by one, all of the things I worked on around my nanny hours (freelancing, blogging, even my novel) fizzled out.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Ideas for Camp NaNoWriMo

After blogging about Camp NaNoWriMo over the weekend, I found myself thinking about how the flexibility of Camp could be used to the benefit of other goals than just writing.  Traditionally, NaNoWriMo is supposed to be a goal to write an entire 50,000-word novel in one month -- and you're not supposed to work on something you've already started, either.  You can research and outline before the month starts, but you're not supposed to start writing at all until the month starts at midnight.

I have to admit, I've only done it that way a few times, even during November (when the system isn't as flexible with your options for word count goals, type of project, etc.).  In 2011, when I wrote my first Ruby Ransome novel, I was already about 25k into the novel -- I just used NaNo to get the rest out of my head and into reality.  I've also used Camp NaNo to revise, long before they offered that as an option in your project description.

Monday, May 05, 2014

Non-NaNoWriMo goals in April

The other day I blogged about Camp NaNoWriMo, and how my novel goals fared in April.  One of the reasons why I'm not too disappointed in how Camp went is because I also managed to keep up on the rest of my goals for 2014 fairly well throughout the month.  There were a few hiccups, to be sure, especially as I had some personal things going on in April, but all in all I didn't do too badly.

If you remember, my goals for 2014 were to:

  1. Finish my NaNo '13 novel,
  2. finish revising my first Ruby Ransome novel,
  3. work on my website and blogs,
  4. blog every day, and 
  5. read a classic every month.

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Camp NaNoWriMo in review

This year's first Camp NaNoWriMo (there's another session in July) was a bit rough, but I probably should have expected that, considering I hadn't touched my novel since November 30th -- after writing the last 10,000 words on the last day of NaNo '13.


Friday, May 02, 2014

Productivity and being mobile

One of the things I've always liked about being a freelance writer is the ability to work wherever.  Of course a lot of experts recommend creating routines and sticking to them for the best productivity -- including where you get your work done -- but of course life doesn't always cooperate.  And I actually find that sometimes I work better if I change my scenery, especially if I am feeling stuck for some reason, or if I've lost momentum on a project.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Birthday wishes

The past week has been rough, thanks to some upheaval in my personal life.  I didn't get anything done Easter weekend as I'd planned, and then I was highly unfocused all week long.  Around the end of the week, I finally felt like I was getting some of my productivity back, but then my birthday was yesterday so I (understandably) didn't do anything productive whatsoever.  Instead, I went to the museum (the Denver Museum of History and Science gave me a free day for my birthday!), one of my favorite restaurants for dinner, and then out to the barn for a late evening visit with my horses.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Happy Easter!

What most people consider a holiday, I am planning to use as catch-up time.

This weekend is a quiet one, at least compared to the last few weeks -- this week especially, when you consider my mad rush to finish taxes Monday night and Tuesday morning, plus book club and an unusual amount of babysitting sprinkled in on the side around my after-school schedule with the kids I nanny for.  This afternoon and evening I had six whole hours to myself at home (shocking!) which I used to get laundry and some other chores done, along with a little work.

Tomorrow, though, I should have virtually the entire day.  An entire day.  It feels like so long since I've had such a thing, that I almost feel overwhelmed just thinking about it.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Tax returns recovery and revised goals

Two days later, and I'm finally feeling like I've recovered from staying up all night Monday night to do our taxes!  Even though I wasn't that tired on Tuesday, I was exhausted yesterday, so I guess it just took a day for the lack of sleep to catch up to me.  This morning I slept later than intended, so I skipped my riding lesson, but I know I needed it because I have felt very rested this morning.

I've also been making stellar progress with getting organized and meeting my goals for the year, so much so that I've been thinking of revising one of them.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Blood moon and taxes

At this point I'm not even sure how I am still awake.  Since I woke up a little after 9 o'clock yesterday morning, I've gotten less than four hours of sleep, and all of that was around midday today.

I'm sure anyone who realizes today was Tax Day can figure out the reason for my lack of sleep.  I used to be so much better organized, and even used to get my taxes done early, but the last few years I've been catching up on my bookkeeping for the year and working on taxes all in the last few days before Tax Day.

Friday, April 11, 2014

The importance of good grammar

The other day on Facebook, I came across a very well-done infographic about 10 common writing mistakes that bloggers make.

(Disclaimer: Like many things you find on Facebook, this infographic is an advertising gimmick, so be warned that you'll end up on a grammar checking software website.  I have nothing to do with the company, other than liking the infographic that they put together for Facebook.)

Monday, April 07, 2014

Goals for 2014: Checking in

I ran a little late this year with setting goals -- and implementing them.  I set goals for 2014 at the end of January (even though it had been on my mind for weeks already at that time), but I didn't start even thinking about how to start working on my goals until a month later, at the end of February.

Just over another month has passed, and I am happy to say that although my progress isn't stellar by any means, it's nothing to sneeze at, either.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

NaNoWriMo: Plotting vs. pantsing

For the last couple of years, NaNoWriMo has been using the terms plotting and pantsing to describe the two major ways that people write: with or without an outline.

I personally used to be a pantser when it came to fiction, through and through.  When I wrote as a teenager, it was all in my head: the overall arc of the story, upcoming scenes, etc.  Sometimes I'd have an idea of what I wanted to happen several scenes in advance, sometimes I'd already have an idea of the ending, and sometimes I would come up with everything as I went along.  I never outlined, though, not once.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Camp NaNoWriMo begins!

I love that I get to enjoy the writing high of doing NaNoWriMo three times a year now, instead of just once.

This is my third summer doing Camp NaNo (although you can't really call it summer yet...).  I always miss the greater community that you find during November, with the forums and all the scheduled write-ins, but I also really like the greater flexibility of camp -- being able to set your own word count goal and (this year) what you plan on writing -- as well as the ability to request your wrimo friends as cabinmates.  I do wish they had given us a way to track things like editing as well, but I've managed in the past by tracking pages and converting that into words

Monday, March 24, 2014

The lost art of journaling

Recently I started journaling again.

I used to journal constantly, from the time I was 10 or 11 on into my teenage years and my 20s.  I wrote about everything that was on my mind, and some days would fill 10 or 15 pages with my ruminations.  I got away from it in my mid-20s, when I had my first job and was writing for a living, and then once I made the transition to blogging I stopped journaling entirely.

Lately, though, I miss journaling.  My blogs have become more focused as I've developed as a writer, and no longer replace the therapeutic process of journaling.  So that's one reason why I've decided to go back to it.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Sick days: Hiccups in productivity

I've been pretty sick the last few days.  It came on slowly, but it was so bad when I woke up Sunday morning that I ended up going back to bed and sleeping for most of the day.  I have a severely sore throat, swollen lymph glands in my neck, and a low fever, so it's nothing to sneeze at (haha), either.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Getting motivated and organized

This week has been a stellar success so far.  Not only have I managed to blog every day -- a nice start on one of my goals for 2014, and a good way to flex my writing muscles and get me back into the habit of writing daily -- but I also thoroughly cleaned my desk and caught up on filing, which is making me feel much better organized.  It's amazing how clearing the clutter also cleared my head, and made me feel more ready to get back to writing regularly... although it could also have been just getting something done that had to do with work that made me feel that way.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Camp NaNoWriMo pick-me-up

Camp NaNoWriMo 2014
I've really been struggling lately -- with most everything.  I haven't been working on my novel(s), haven't been keeping up with my blogs, haven't been doing ANY of the things on my list of goals for the year.  I haven't even been riding my horses all that much, thanks in part to being very sick in February with a bad cold and a cough that wouldn't go away.

With all of this non-motivation going on, at this point I'm really looking forward to anything that will encourage me to get my tail moving.  One thing I'm counting on is an upcoming writer's critique group -- I need to get another chapter of my first Ruby Ransome novel revised and ready for the group to read, which should get me moving on revisions again (I hope).  The first session of Camp NaNoWriMo is also in April, and I hope to use that to get me moving on several other things, as well.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Better late than never!

I blogged at the end of January about my goals for 2014, one of which was to blog daily.  I meant to start on that the following Monday, the first weekday in February (as I am contemplating making it a weekday-only rule), but here it is almost a month later and I still haven't!  And unfortunately, I haven't done anything else on my list, either, including working on my novels (which should also be a daily occurrence).

Friday, January 31, 2014

Goals for 2014

In 2013, I made goals at the beginning of the year and tracked them on a weekly basis for most of the year (up until NaNoWriMo started in November).  The last few months, however, have been much less productive, and I've lost sight of my focus.  I partially blame NaNoWriMo, especially the last day, in which I wrote ten thousand words and burned myself out.  Lately, though, I've been feeling like I'm finally ready to get back to work again, so here at last are my goals for the year -- albeit a month late!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Year in review: Successes and failures in 2013

This post is extremely belated, which in itself demonstrates how unfocused I've been since NaNoWriMo ended.  Better late than never, though, right?

At the beginning of the year, I set a handful of goals and tracked them on this blog -- on a weekly basis -- throughout most of the year.  Thanks to that, I have a pretty clear picture on what goals for the year I succeeded at, and what I failed to accomplish.  As a refresher, here were my goals for 2013.  Most were writing related, but not all:

1. Finish and revise my two Ruby Ransome novels
2. Overhaul my website and blogs
3. Get to a couple other writing projects I've had on my to-do list
4. Read 7 classics (5 rolled over from a failed reading list of 2012)
5. Ride each of my two horses 3 times a week