Thursday, June 29, 2023

Surface Go 3 Update and Review

Please note that this post contains affiliate links.  As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn commissions from sales made through these links.

A couple of months ago, I posted about a last-minute decision to get a Surface Go 3 as a second computer.  I had a few different reasons for the purchase, the biggest one being that I was going on a trip and didn't feel comfortable taking my regular laptop (my lifeline, basically) on the trip with me.  So I got a mini computer, basically, that I could load all the important stuff onto, and just took that.

I posted a review of the Surface Go 3 after the trip, but I'd only been using the laptop for a short time at that point, so I wanted to post about it again now that I'm more familiar with it.

As it turned out, buying the Surface Go was a really good decision that I've been very happy with.  As its name suggests, it has been a perfect "go computer" that I can take with me while leaving my important work machine at home.  It's not as powerful and has nowhere near as much storage, and I had to leave "S mode" to install non-Windows apps (like Scrivener and Plottr).  But I keep most of my work in the cloud to switch easily between the two computers anyway, and breaking it out of S mode doesn't seem to have harmed it any.

One of the things I like best about it is that I don't always feel like I have to carry it in a laptop bag or backpack.  I got a really nice drop-proof case for it, basically an Otter Box for a Surface, so I just carry it with me by itself.

I wasn't sure I would use it much once I got home for a trip, though I liked the idea of having a backup computer.  As a writer, I've always found that computers tend to die at the worst times, and my main computer is admittedly getting older.  It's nearly three years old now!  So having a backup is a good idea.

But more importantly, I've been able to take the little Surface places I wouldn't want to take my regular laptop, and with an ease I wouldn't normally have.  It's easy to carry with me, and I don't worry about losing everything should the computer be damaged or lost or stolen.  I can tuck it beneath the seat in the car instead of carrying it with me everywhere, and no one knows it is there.  It makes it easy to take it with me when I want to work somewhere else: in the car, at a restaurant, or even just in bed.

It's not good for my main laptop to be plugged in all the time, so I need to start using it unplugged more often.  But I am very much enjoying the flexibility of the little Surface Go, and I love the security of having a backup machine!

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Camp NaNoWriMo Looms

A couple days ago I got a reminder that Camp NaNoWriMo is coming up.  As if I could forget!  As I've mentioned in my weekly accountability and progress posts, I've been trying to get going on my novel again so I would be ready for Camp NaNo.

Ready or not, though, here it comes!  Camp starts on Saturday, July 1st... ironically, the day we'll be at Fan Expo in Denver.  At the Expo this year, we have both a community table for the Denver region of NaNoWriMo, and a panel on Saturday that will provide an overview of writing a novel during National Novel Writing Month.

It's hard to believe it's already less than a week away from the Fan Expo and the start of NaNoWriMo.  I had planned on using June to help me get a jump on my goal of finishing the draft by the end of July, but now it's looking like I probably won't have it finished until a little later this summer.  I think I'm probably a good two months from finishing the draft, and then I'll still need to do at least one more round of revisions.

I haven't done a full 50,000 word challenge in the summer since they started letting you pick your own goal for Camp, and I'm not sure I want to put that much pressure on myself.  I've always found it's a little hard to write 50,000 words in the summer months, probably partly because there's more going on in the summer, but also partly because I don't have all the write-ins and other events to help carry me through.  But I'm contemplating setting at least a similar goal for the month of July, just because I want to get as far as possible in the draft before month's end.

We'll see.  I'm hoping that as I get back to work on the novel this week, I'll get a feel for how much I can write a day if I'm confining my writing to just an hour or two, probably at the end of the day.  I don't think I can spare as much time as I would normally devote to it during November.

What about you?  Do you participate in Camp NaNo?  What's your goal for the month?

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Advertising Update

A little while back I was kicked off the Amazon Affiliate program for not making the required three sales in the first 180 days from my application.  I later found out I did make one sale, though, so I decided to make a plan and try again.

This has been on my to-do list and mentioned in my weekly accountability and progress posts, but I kept putting it off.  Yesterday as I was procrastinating on other things, I decided to do something about that affiliate program, so I reapplied and started updating links on my blogs.

I probably have some more links to update, but more importantly, I have a plan for staying in the program this time.

I've updated all my advertising notices on my websites to acknowledge that I'm now advertising with Amazon Affiliate links again, and replaced some of the links and notices in my blog posts.

I promise not to make any intrusive product posts, and please know that any recommendations are real.  I'm just hoping to make a little money on the recommendations I would share anyway!

Monday, June 26, 2023

Accountability and Progress: Week 5

In some ways I'm feeling like it's more discouraging tracking this, since I'm seeing how I shift stuff back, week to week to week.  In other ways it's helpful because I'm making myself pay more attention to things I do accomplish.  It also is helping me to note where I should be balancing my schedule a little better, giving a little more attention to things that bring me immediate income.

If I keep feeling like it's not helpful, I may not continue tracking my weekly activities, but for now I think there's promise, even if I do end up commenting every week how things got shifted back again.

Last week was another rough one, as it was hard to keep everything as planned.  I got an unexpected notice that I was getting my software upgrade for my insulin pump, so I had to do the online training and then go through the process of upgrading.  That took a lot of time that was originally slated for other things, but of course the pump upgrade was a priority!

Doll stringing ebook: I had shifted this back to this week in order to prioritize income-generating projects, but then didn't get much done on those either.  Currently I'm planning on putting in some time on this later this week.

Ruby Ransome: This got shifted back again, unfortunately, and I didn't work on it at all last week.  I'm going to try to get going on it this week, since it's the last week before Camp NaNoWriMo.  It'll help me to get going for Camp if I familiarize myself with my novel again first.

New novel idea: Still keeping this on the list for later.

Blogging and website maintenance: Once again, I am glad I am tracking this, as a glance at my Toggl report for the week reminds me that the week wasn't totally wasted.  I have been keeping up on website and blog updates reasonably well, and working on other content.  I do need to look into reapplying for an Amazon affiliate account as I have some new reviews and other similar things to post, and I'd like links for those when I do.

Other projects: I was able to work a little more on reorganizing doll spaces, and I'm realizing that income or not, that needs to be a priority right now.  There's not much else I feel I can do until that's done.  I have a ton of reselling to do, but until I'm organized, I can't easily find what I want to photograph OR easily set up to photograph any of it.  So organizing and cleaning up some of my work areas will be a priority this week.

Unfortunately, it's going to be a difficult week to find time for these things.  I'm basically on call while my mom deals with some health things, for one thing; plus we have plans with my husband's family this week.  So I've already lost a couple of evenings (which is when I get a lot of stuff done) in addition to the uncertainty of possibly needing to be there for my mom at any time, on short notice.  And on top of it all, Friday will be a non-work day due to a doll event going on, and most if not all of this weekend will be taken up with working the NaNoWriMo community table at Fan Expo.

So without further ado, I'd better get to work, since it's going to be tough enough as it is to find time for everything this week.

Monday, June 19, 2023

Accountability and Progress: Week 4

It's hard to believe this is the fourth week I've done this series of blog posts.  Time passes so quickly, especially when you're super busy and never seem to have enough time for everything you want to do.

Last week was somewhat doomed from the time that I made my Week 3 post on Monday.  I posted several times about how my plans for the week continued to change down to the minute (see Doing the Mid-Week Mangle and Weather vs. Motivation).  I wish I could say it was just last week, but the truth is, many of my weeks are like that and it's why I find it hard to accomplish everything I set out to do.

I have to acknowledge that I did get some important things done last week, though.  My work collaborating with the local doll shop and filming segments with them is nothing to sneeze at.  And I did benefit from my decision to work on some things over the weekend.

Here's the breakdown from last week, and projections for the coming week:

Doll stringing ebook: I had planned on working on this last week, but it didn't happen.  Currently it's scheduled for this week, but it is admittedly lower on the list of priorities.  Remember last week, when I realized I needed to prioritize immediately income-generating projects?  See "Other projects."

Ruby Ransome: I didn't work on my novel at all last week, and while I'm disappointed, I'm reminding myself that it was the plan to shift it off until this week.  I am, however, planning on getting back to work on it this week.

New novel idea: Still keeping this on the list for later.

Blogging and website maintenance: This is where I'm really glad I'm doing this accountability posting, as I would have forgotten about having accomplished something on my list otherwise.  Last week I succeeded in writing up the page of my website, and got it done by deadline (before the video went live).  I still need to look into the Amazon affiliate program again.

Other projects: I got some work done on organizing my doll spaces over the weekend, but didn't yet do the filming and photography I had planned.  That's scheduled for this week now, and I've added to what I want to film and photograph, as well.  I also have plans to start photographing and listing some of my reselling inventory this week.  As I mentioned last week, I need to focus at least some of my time on work that directly replaces my freelance income.  Not all of my projects can be long games; I need some more immediate sources of income.

Overall I have a very full week planned, so there's less down time than I'd like.  I don't like seeing this because the fuller my schedule is, the more I know I'm setting myself up for failure.  Unfortunately I'm not sure what else to do sometimes than to just schedule it and hope for the best!  I have so much I want to do... and so much that doesn't get done every week as a result.

Friday, June 16, 2023

Weather vs. Motivation

I can't believe Friday is already here!  This week flew by, probably partly because of how busy it was, and how much it kept changing.

It's kind of a dreary, lazy Friday, though, and I'm not sure how much I'll be getting done today.  It's the kind of day where I just want to curl up with a book or my computer, and not necessarily run around working on house projects... which is what I should be doing.  I did run a couple of errands earlier, but now that I'm home, my motivation is sapped.

Does anyone else find their motivation either boosted or undermined by weather?  I'm a Colorado girl through and through, so I find it really difficult to focus on dreary days.  I'm so accustomed to all that sunshine, all the time.  On sunny days I feel much more energized.  Dark, cloudy days and that soundtrack of rain on the roof just make me want to sleep or read or snuggle up in a blanket.

I don't want to get nothing done today, though, so this is how I've been approaching the day:

  • Revising expectations.  Okay, I know I'm not going to get a lot done today.  I'm just going to have to acknowledge that and change my plans accordingly.  I figure I won't get everything I'd planned done regardless, so being hard on myself will accomplish nothing.  Worse, it may demotivate me further.
  • Prioritizing.  When I realized how much I was dragging, I quickly cut a few less important things from my list.  No sense in cluttering up the list and making myself feel worse.  Looking at a busy to-do list is the equivalent of a writer staring at a blank page.  It makes it that much harder to get started.
  • Reducing scale.  Once I triaged my to-do list for the day, I've been trying to think of bite-size things I can do.  One of my most effective techniques for getting things done when I don't feel like it is to set out to do just one task, or just a few minutes' worth of work.  Usually by the time I've finished that task or time frame, I've thought of something else I want to do, and I keep going.  And even if I don't, hey, I've still accomplished more than I would have done otherwise.
  • Rescheduling.  I've already pretty much decided that this weekend is going to be used as overflow for what I wanted to get done and didn't.  The things I was originally planning to do this week have been shifted to next weekend, and a few things I was going to do on the weekend I just postponed to next weekend.  Fortunately it sounds like the weather this weekend should be good, so hopefully my motivation will be too!
Do you find that weather impacts your motivation?  How do you deal with it?

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Doing the Mid-Week Mangle

I'm at that point in my week where my plans for the week are completely mangled, and I'm in a panic trying to figure out how to cram everything in that I wanted to get done and haven't.

I knew it was going to happen.  When I posted my outlook for the week Monday evening, my carefully organized schedule and color-coded calendar (I'm not kidding) were already getting derailed.  I shifted everything to accommodate the new plan.  And again.  And again.

I'm here to say that it didn't work, everything is falling apart, and nothing I planned is getting done.

Today feels especially like a failure, I guess, because I didn't really get anything work-like done at all (except for this blog post, which is a dubious win).  It was somewhat expected, as I had my weekly ride with a friend in the morning, and had a scheduled opportunity to preview a doll sale before the actual sale starts.  But I had still been hoping to get a few other things done in smaller chunks.

What I did do (just now) was to triage my to-do list yet again, to see what I can salvage of the week.  Fortunately tomorrow should be a much more manageable day, with more time at home and fewer (knock on wood) potential distractions.

How do you manage it when things come up that require you to reschedule everything else?  I don't want to be so rigid that I can never adapt as needed, but at the same time, I need to figure out how to keep my schedule from getting out of my control!

Monday, June 12, 2023

Accountability and Progress: Week 3

This last week has been a whirlwind and this week is already shaping up to be one too, which is why I'm finally getting around to writing this post in the evening.  It's like my schedule and plans are changing day by day, sometimes even hour by hour, and I have to keep changing around everything else to accommodate it.

I had plans for today that were all derailed when I went to drop off some equipment at our local doll shop for an event later this month, got stuck in about an hour of unexpected traffic, and then ended up hanging around the doll shop for a while and making plans to go back tomorrow and film.

Sometimes I don't even know how this happens to me, but I just roll with it!

When I got home, I triaged my to-do list, identified the most important stuff to finish this evening, and reworked my plan for tomorrow and the rest of the week to reschedule all the stuff that is getting bumped from today and tomorrow.

I also had a realization since I wrote week 2's post that with freelancing no longer taking up space on my calendar, I need to dedicate at least part of every week on activities that replace that income.  I haven't been focusing on it as much as I should have, and it's beginning to show.  Granted, I hope that some of this work will eventually bring in income, but I need to also devote some time to more immediate sources of income. Right now that's doll repair and resale, while the writing (and the building of my doll professional brand) is the long game.

Here is the most recent plan for the coming week:

Doll stringing ebook: I was about to bemoan the fact that I'd shifted this off yet another week, but then I reread what I wrote last week and realized that no, that was according to plan.  I really did plan to put it off until this week.  Note to self: Don't feel guilty.  It was the plan.

Ruby Ransome: I had a placeholder in my calendar to resume work on my novel this week, but after today and tomorrow were changed so abruptly, I'm second guessing this.  I moved my placeholder to next Monday, assuming that shifting everything down a couple of days is going to require me to give up my noveling time this week.

New novel idea: Keeping this on the list, as I do want to flesh the idea out a little more before I save it for later.

Blogging and website maintenance: I didn't finish the resource page to go with the film quite yet, so I'm going to try to do that this evening (that being one of the priorities I identified when I triaged today's to-do list).  I'm still planning on looking into having a second go at the Amazon affiliate program, but that will likely be a task for next week.  I've also been planning on taking some new photos for my website for quite some time, but I haven't gotten around to that yet.  I decided I really ought to do that tomorrow, to have it all live when the video I filmed last week airs on Wednesday.

Other projects: I got a little filming and photography done last week, but not as much as I wanted, so that's still on the docket for later this week, as well as some doll repair I've been putting off.

It's somewhat jarring to have my week scrambled already on Monday, but I'm hoping my new plan for the week sticks, and I get some good work done!

Thursday, June 08, 2023

Camp NaNoWriMo, July 2023

I totally forgot, when I wrote my post for the week, that Camp NaNoWriMo would be coming up again in July.

I didn't participate at all in the April session of Camp.  In fact, April was almost over before I knew it, thanks to the scramble to get ready for the doll show.

The April session of Camp is always hard for me.  I think it's because there always seems to be a lot else going on in April, between the annual doll show, taxes, and my birthday in late April.  Last year my horse Panama got sick in April, too, so there was that to navigate as well.

I do plan on doing Camp this July, however.  I have to decide whether I'm going to use the opportunity to finish my draft of Ruby, or work on the new novel idea I had recently.  I think I'm better off working on Ruby, honestly, and using the new novel idea as something I can work on after finishing the draft (as I subscribe to the Stephen King method of revisions that says to let it sit for a little bit before going back to it).

Camp NaNoWriMo offers more flexible project goals than November, which means I'll have the ability to do what works for me.  I think I'd really like to have the draft finished by the end of July, so I might need to see where I'm at on June 30th and estimate my word count goal from there.  In general the novel is taking longer to get where it's going this time around, which is fine (it was too short and not fleshed out well enough before) but also means I am not as close to the end as I'd like right now.  If I had to guess, I'd say I'm about a third of the way into it, which means I may have more than a month's worth of writing to do unless I'm planning on being super prolific in July.

I guess that means I definitely need to get back to work on the novel next week as I mentioned in my accountability and progress posts!

Wednesday, June 07, 2023

The Importance of Down Time

I'm writing this on Tuesday, after finishing my accountability and progress post for the week.  I'm blogging because 1) website updates and maintenance are valid activities that need to be done, and 2) I'm realizing that I desperately need some down time today.

The aftermath of filming with the local doll shop on Monday hit me like a load of bricks.  I've filmed with them a handful of times now, and I love it, but I'm also a writer and I love my down time too.  Filming is a lot of stimulation.  I get totally caught up in it at the time, but I think it takes a while for my brain to come down from the high.  For hours afterward, I am a buzzing, overthinking, emotionally drained mess.  The overthinking is deafening.

And then I crash.

I slept hard and deep Monday night, and slept much longer than my usual.  Although I usually don't remember my dreams at all, I remembered enough when I woke up to know that I did dream, and that they were LOUD.  I felt like my dreams had been they'd been yelling at me for hours.  It was a similar feeling to how I felt after hours of my brain buzzing following filming on Monday.

And yes, even after all of this, I still love filming, and I will still do it again.  I just hope eventually I'll get used to the high and be able to manage the aftermath a little more effectively.

Today, Tuesday, I'm managing it by giving myself permission for some down time.  It is going to mess up the plans I just blogged about for the week, since I'm not getting done what I was planning to get done this afternoon, but I'll reschedule and it'll be fine.

Right now, I need a little quiet time where I can write and be in my own head while everything slows down a little, back to a manageable level.

While filming is the most dramatic example, there are other things that cause this kind of overstimulation crash for me.  Big events and intense periods of busyness also do it.  I struggle with giving myself permission for down time, as I think many of us do, but I think it's important to push back against the guilt.  Down time is something we all need.  While some people can tolerate more of it than others, we can't be running at full throttle all the time.

So if you're struggling right now, maybe scrolling social media or searching the internet while you procrastinate, this is the permission you're seeking.

It's okay to need to go at a slower pace for a little bit.  Down time is necessary and good for all of us.  If you feel guilty, remind yourself that you shouldn't feel guilty for listening to your needs.  If you really can't shake that need to be productive, you can find something that still needs to be done, but fits the criteria for "down time."

Enjoy that down time, be sure you get what you need from it, and come back feeling refreshed when it's time to work again.

Tuesday, June 06, 2023

Accountability and Progress: Week 2

This is my second week of my accountability and progress posts, but it'll be my first week reviewing the previous week's accomplishments.  I'm writing this on Tuesday this week, but normally I'll write it on Monday because I want to start off every week by reviewing the previous week and simultaneously looking ahead to the upcoming week.  It just didn't work out this week because of how busy my Monday was (or last week either because that Monday was a holiday).

The past week, including yesterday, can pretty much all be summed up with the word YIKES.

Last week, my husband Zac was supposed to be flying home late Monday night from visiting his sister.  Unfortunately his flight was delayed and he flew in mid afternoon on Tuesday.  Tuesday was supposed to be one of my only dedicated work days, so it severely messed up my day, and ultimately, my week.

As a result, the appointment I had to film with a local doll shop on Thursday was pushed back to Monday, which is why yesterday was so busy.

Following the same format from week 1 in order to track specific projects, here is this week's rundown.

Doll stringing ebook: Originally I had a couple of two-hour time slots blocked off for taking photos and working on the copy last Friday, but as anticipated it didn't happen.  And as it turns out, I have added some new projects to my calendar for this week, so I've shifted this off to next week.

Ruby Ransome: Still on hiatus, although I still have my placeholder in my calendar for next week to remind me to start work on it again.

New novel idea: Nothing done on this in the past week, although I still want to polish up the plot a little more before I lose my train of thought on this.

Blogging and website maintenance: I didn't have a chance to look into the Amazon affiliate program again last week, but I'll try to get to it this week.  I also need to do some work on my doll site to go along with the filming I did yesterday, as I'm creating a list of resources to go along with the video when it releases.

Other projects: I had a bunch of filming and photography things I wanted to do last week (these being for my own channels, not the local doll shop filming that I did yesterday), but the dreary weather and all the rain made it difficult to accomplish anything outdoors or even that needed good light indoors.  It seems this week will offer better weather, so I've rescheduled my filming and photography for this week.  There is some new stuff I want to film too so hopefully I'm not overloading myself.

I think the theme of this week is going to be catching up on what didn't get done last week, after the travel debacle eliminated one of my best working days during the week.  Now that filming with the local doll shop is over, I'm hoping to be able to devote more time to my own projects this week.  I don't have as much scheduled this week that will interfere, either, so with any luck this will be a more productive week!


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