Thursday, June 13, 2024

Daily Writing Streak Broken :(

After nearly two months of doing at least something on my novel every day, from about mid-April during Camp NaNoWriMo all the way to this past Monday, my streak finally broke.

To be fair, it wasn't my fault, and if it wasn't for the events of this week I don't think it would have happened at all.  Tuesday we had a very full day, and got to the barn at 10pm to grain my horses, only to find that one of them - Panama, the one who was very sick two years ago and needed a lot of care - had eaten free-feed hay all day without drinking on the hottest day of the year so far, and was very dehydrated and uncomfortable.

So we spent the next five hours walking him, coaxing mashes into him, and monitoring him for hydration, poop, and how he was feeling.  It took a while, but over time we got a total of almost 5 gallons of water into him, plus he pooped twice and peed once.  He was obviously feeling much better, too, so we felt pretty good at that point about leaving him.

I had been waiting until evening to work on my novel since we had so much going on during the day, so obviously didn't write that night.  It was after 4am before we got in bed, and I didn't sleep until nearly 5am, since I read for a while to calm myself down.

Yesterday was another busy day, this time on an extreme shortage of sleep, but we still made it over to the barn to mash Panama a couple times.  All the horses were obviously still quite full from the day before, and were eating their dinner very slowly; perhaps because of this, Panama didn't eat the entire mash we offered him around 4pm (they get fed dinner at 2pm).  He seemed very sleepy and was well hydrated, so I wasn't too worried, but we still went back later to mash him again, and that one he ate very well.

When we went out there to mash him early this afternoon, before dinner this time, he ate with gusto and actually hollered for his mash, something he hadn't been doing the last few days.  He's normally super vocal, so it was a good sign that he was back to that behavior today.

I felt so bad about not writing on Tuesday, but there was really nothing for it.  Last night I opened up the Scrivener project and refreshed my memory on where I was and what I intended to write next, but I was exhausted from Tuesday night and a lack of sleep, so I didn't work on it.

While logically I know it's okay that I wasn't able to write for a couple days, that sometimes other things have to take precedence, I still feel disappointed and slightly worried that I will have a hard time picking the habit back up.  For me, part of the daily writing habit is not making excuses or exceptions, because once I stop writing every day, it's far too easy to let the habit slip and eventually forget about it entirely.

So tonight I need to make sure that I work on my novel at some point, no matter what.  Even if it's just a little bit, to get back into the habit and refamiliarize myself with where I was in the story.

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

What Is Writers Block?

I started my current novel, Amnesia, at the very end of March, right before Camp NaNoWriMo.  Two and a half months later, I've almost reached my word count goal, and I'm figuring out the final scenes and the placement of flashbacks.  Not bad for a novel that started with just an idea for an opening scene, and no idea where it would go from there.

I don't often feel a true "writers block," which I interpret as not knowing what to write.  You know, the feeling that has you staring at the blank page or blinking cursor and having nothing to write.  Maybe it's thanks to NaNoWriMo or maybe it's just because of how I write, but I've always been able to write something.  Even if I later change it, it's words on the page.  I've always felt that way, even before I discovered the NaNoWriMo culture.

What I do sometimes struggle with is motivation, and this is in all areas of my life, not just writing.  Finding time to write when I'm not feeling motivated is difficult for me, especially when I have a lot else going on to fill my time.

Since the start of Camp NaNoWriMo in April, I've made it my goal to work on my novel at least a little every day, and for the most part this has gone very well.  Even if one day I don't feel motivated, I at least open up my Scrivener project and write a few words.  Sometimes that's been a very few words (a few bad days, it was actually one word), and sometimes I do something else, such as getting caught up on research I've been meaning to do.  Sometimes writing a few words leads to a few more and a few more, until I've written more than I had expected or hoped for.  Other times, just opening the project and looking at it helps to keep it more present in my mind every day.

But for the most part, I haven't experienced too much of this until last week.  Last week, there were a few days where I really, honestly struggled.

It wasn't that I didn't know what to write; it was that I'd decided where the end was going, and realized I was going to have to change my plan somewhat.  That was going to involve rearranging and even rewriting some of the scenes I'd already written while skipping around (which is not something I usually do, but I was inspired to write the material for the flashbacks before I knew how I was going to end the story).

In other words, it was going to be a lot harder than just sitting down and letting words flow.  And I was feeling a lack of motivation just in general during that time, so that didn't help.

One day I just opened the project up and went through the scenes, thinking about how to do what I wanted to do.

I didn't write that day, but thinking paid off, and the next day I rearranged some scenes and got it all ready.

Neither day produced words, but I gave myself credit for "writing" those days anyway, since it was still progress.

The third day I started working on writing the new scenes within the new framework, and rewriting what needed to be rewritten.  Each day I write a little more, and I have faith that I'll get past this rough patch and when I do, the story will be better for it.

It's been slow work, and admittedly, some days I haven't worked on it for very long.  But I don't see it as writer's block, just a rough patch that I need to keep pushing through to get to the other side.

What about you?  Do you get writer's block, and what form does it take for you?

Monday, June 10, 2024

Weekly Goals, Week 24: Plugging Along

Last week started off strong.  I got lots of work done the first few days on both my novel and in the doll room.  My "Tuesday bump" (what I'm calling the usual surge in word count that I get from our weekly write-in) wasn't quite as strong as in previous weeks, but it wasn't bad, either.  And I got a couple good afternoons' worth of work done inventorying the Ginger dolls.

I also did a photo shoot at the museum for a social media reel I'm planning, and that took two afternoons and about 6 hours of work, between the photography and videography and the video editing.

But after midweek, my momentum flagged, and I didn't get much else done, besides a token effort on my novel every day.

Part of it was that I hit a rough patch with the novel, which I'll write more about in my next post.  I hadn't really hit a rough patch yet, despite how far I've gotten in the novel, so I'm not entirely surprised, but the timing was unfortunate.

I think I also may have burned myself out a bit on the doll projects (both mine and the museum's) early on in the week.  Even when work is something I enjoy, it can become overwhelming to me and burn me out if I work too intensely for too long.  It's a wonderful zone to be in while I'm getting stuff done, but it can make it difficult to regain focus afterward.  I used to call the after effects a productivity hangover.

The one thing I didn't get to last week (again) was the sale.  We got a small reprieve and were able to push it back another week to allow me some more time to get organized.

I'm still trying the same approach that I discussed last week and focusing on fewer projects, so my list looks just like last week's:

  1. Work on my novel every day until finished
  2. Work on organizing the doll room
  3. Prep and run a sale

It's probably going to look more or less the same for a while, as the doll room is bound to be a long term project, and writing every day will just be replaced with a different novel once this draft is finished.

Tuesday, June 04, 2024

NaNoWriMo Camp Sandwich: The Tuesday Bump

Earlier this year, we set up a standing write-in with one of our biggest supporters for the Denver region of NaNoWriMo.  Write-ins during NaNoWriMo in November are always so motivating and helpful for staying on track, that I figured I could stand to harness that momentum year-round.

We started the write-in along with the beginning of Camp NaNoWriMo in April, and so far it's been going really well.  In fact, while it helps me to stay on track the rest of the week, I usually write nearly as much (or a little more) on write-in days as I do the rest of the week combined.  I've been affectionately calling it the Tuesday bump, since you can see the dramatic increase in word count every Tuesday.

This screenshot of my graph is from before I worked on my novel yesterday, but you can clearly see when the past three write-ins were:

This one is the daily word count graph, but again, you can pick out the write-in days pretty easily.  (Plus, you can see Sunday's small "aha" moment, which I mentioned in my week 23 goals post.)

I don't know that the weekly write-in has been entirely responsible for keeping me going on this novel, but it has definitely helped.  Getting that massive word count bump every Tuesday helps me make more progress than I would be making otherwise, for one thing.  But the weekly standing write-in also helps me to keep the novel at the forefront of my mind, making it easier to stick to my goal of writing every day.  Without the weekly write-in, I'm pretty sure I would have taken "just one day" off by now, which would have turned into more, which would have turned into not working on the novel anymore.

Instead, I'm nearly finished with (and thoroughly enjoying) this novel.  When I took those screenshots yesterday, I had 78,601 words.  I wrote another 1,668 last night, hitting 80,000 (80,269).  And today is Tuesday, which means (you guessed it!) probably another considerable bump in word count is coming later this evening. 

So you could probably say that the Tuesday bump has saved this novel, and possibly Ruby as well, although the latter still remains to be seen.  I've always been a strong advocate for using NaNoWriMo to create lasting writing habits, but now I have to say, I recommend year-round motivators as well.  Whatever those might be for you, find them and utilize them!

Monday, June 03, 2024

Weekly Goals, Week 23: Rethinking My Goals

Last week I blogged about how I've felt like two major projects may be my max at one time.  This revelation may have implications for how I plan my weekly goals every week.

I'm not talking about small, one-off projects, like taking a quick photo or cleaning up the kitchen, although I'm also learning that I can't overload myself on those, either.  But for the purpose of my weekly goals posts, I'm talking about larger, long-term projects that require sustained focus and multiple sessions to get anything done.

In other words, I'm talking about the kind of projects that I list as weekly goals.

Last week was pretty productive.  I got lots of organizing done, working towards my goal of organizing and inventorying my entire Ginger collection, plus working on other doll spaces and storage in and around my doll room.  There is a lot to do there; I'm trying to resolve years' worth of neglect and turn it into a dream doll setup, and it's not going to be easy or fast.

I also got a lot done on my novel, though I think I forgot to track some of it, so it shows as only about three hours for the week.  Given that I wrote 3,700 words on Tuesday alone, and that I'm pretty sure I wrote more once I got home from the write-in that day even though Toggl doesn't reflect it, I'm fairly certain I forgot to track a bunch.

Currently I'm sitting pretty at 78,601 words.  My goal is 90,000 but I'm fairly certainly I'll overshoot that initially.  Even so, I don't have that much left to write, and I had another "aha!" moment last night for how the rest of the story is going to pull together.

With all of this in mind, here are my goals for this week:

  1. Work on my novel every day until finished
  2. Work on organizing the doll room
  3. Prep and run a sale

You'll notice I've added the words "until finished" on the end of my usual writing goal.  I don't think I'll finish the novel this week, but I anticipate finishing it soon.  My tentative goal is by midway through the month, to give me time to shift gears and work on Ruby Ransome in July's session of Camp NaNoWriMo.

You'll also notice that the sale, which didn't happen last week, has been carried over to this week.  I made a conscious decision last week that I wanted a little more time to organize before holding the sale.  I really want to be sure to do it this weekend though, as both the income and the space are becoming more important as time goes on.

It'll be a busy week for sure, but if everything continues going the way the last few weeks have gone, it'll be a fairly successful week as well.

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

How Many Projects Are Too Many?

It hasn't escaped my notice that the last few weeks I've been better at achieving my goals.

There are a few possible reasons why.  One could be that I'm doing better lately with managing my time.  I could also be benefiting from instituting a daily routine with a strict goal of writing every day; it's not a stretch to think that discipline could be spilling over into other goals as well.

But I've also been thinking about the general advice of only having three items on your to-do list.  I've never given it any credence (I have way too much to do for that) but I find myself wondering if perhaps it's more applicable to larger and more involved projects.

Because while I've been making good progress on two of my projects, my novel and organizing in the doll room, I also have been tightly focused on both of those goals.  I have had a few other goals cluttering things up on occasion, but for the most part I've been focusing on just these two things.

What if, when I feel I'm not being productive enough, it's just because I'm overextending myself?  So rather than getting a lot done on a couple of things, I'm only able to get a little done on everything... and even that doesn't represent the maximum effort I have to give, because there is a limited amount of time and energy you can divvy up before you run out of spoons, so to speak.

It's food for thought, especially since my entire nature is to overextend myself.  I have so many things I want to do.  But it looks like may need to focus my efforts on what I most want to do, or else settle for accomplishing very little of all the things I want to do.

What would you do?

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Weekly Goals, Week 22: Achieving Goals

This week I'm feeling pretty good about my progress on two of my major goals, getting organized and finishing my novel.

I wrote yesterday about my current progress on Amnesia, my NaNoWriMo Camp Sandwich project.  I wrote another 600ish words after that, so I'm still squarely on track.  Tonight is our weekly year-round write-in, so I'm sure I'll get a ton of words in tonight.  The last two Tuesdays I've written around 4,000 words each time.

Working on my novel every day was one of my goals for last week, and I definitely met that goal.  I also got a bunch of organization done in regards to the doll room and my doll collection.  I'm working on a project to inventory and organize all of my Ginger dolls, one of my larger collections.  It's taking time, but I'm making good progress on it.

I also did a bunch of collections work on Saturday, which took a lot of time out of my week, but I was glad to help the museum go through donations and make decisions on what will be accessioned into the collection.

While I made stellar progress on those two goals last week, I didn't get around to prepping and holding a sale.  Most of it was because the Ginger organization project exploded, and I didn't get to sorting through my American Girl stuff to locate duplicates for the sale.

So that goal will be carried over to this week, with the sale to be held this weekend, probably Saturday.

My goals for the week basically look just like last week's:

  1. Work on my novel every day
  2. Work on organizing the doll room every day
  3. Prep and run a sale

With any luck, I can accomplish just as much on the first two goals this week, plus add in the third.  Without the work for the museum and with a substantial part of the Ginger project already finished, I think I should have time for all of this.

Monday, May 27, 2024

Camp Sandwich Progress: Memorial Day Bonus Post

Sometimes self-employed work-from-homers find it difficult to not work on weekends and holidays.  I'm no exception.  But today, I decided, I'm treating as a holiday.


I'll still do barn chores (I don't typically take off on holidays for that gig, as horses don't really have holidays), and I'll still work on my novel.  I'm also planning on working on the doll room today.  Honestly, I don't know how much of a holiday I'm still treating it as at this point.  Maybe just because I'm being more relaxed about getting stuff done today.

Or maybe it's more psychological, since I'm waiting until tomorrow to post my goals for the week.

In any case, I'm taking it a little easy today.

I've been pretty pleased with my progress on my novel since my last post about my NaNoWriMo Camp Sandwich progress.  

There was one day when my actual activity for the day was watching a movie (research!), so I wrote a single word for the day just to get credit for having worked on it.  And then there was last Tuesday, when I wrote 3,700 words in one day, thanks in part to our weekly write-in and thanks also to the fact that I reached a part I'd been wanting to write and got really into it.

Remember, ignore the super high word count for the first day.  That was just me loading the ending word count from April's session of Camp.

Last night I topped 70,000 words.  I'm getting really close to my stated goal of 90,000 words, and I'm pretty excited about it.  I don't know that I'll be done at 90,000, as I feel like I still have a lot of story to cover, but of course there will have to be some things cut and rewritten so that will help to trim it.  I think 90,000 will be an ideal length for this novel, so that will probably be my goal for the final draft, and it feels like I'm on track to meet that.  I won't worry too much if it's a little less or a little more, though.

I also feel like I'm on track to finish writing before the end of June, which is important.  Ideally I'd like to be done around mid-June at the latest, so that I have time to do a few quick revisions in the novel, mostly continuity things that have come up while I've been writing, since I didn't plot this and have mostly pantsed the whole thing.  Then the goal is to start refreshing my memory on where I was in Ruby Ransome before the next session of Camp starts in July, and let Amnesia sit for a while so I can go back to it later for a thorough, more objective revision.

I'll keep posting about progress, but so far, I'm pleased!

Monday, May 20, 2024

Weekly Goals, Week 21: Getting Organized

Last week turned out to be pretty busy.  I didn't get everything done I'd wanted to, but I did feel like it was a pretty productive week.  I worked daily on my novel, wrote the museum copy, and started the involved process of organizing my dolls and doll room to make it more usable.

Unfortunately, I did not run a sale or work on taxes.  I did work in the garden a little, but didn't get everything done that I had wanted to, so I'll need to work on that some more soon.

This week I'm expecting to be consumed primarily with organizing in the doll room, prepping, and holding a sale.  I've been putting this off for way too long, and I need to organize and clear out some of the extra stuff if I'm ever going to be able to enjoy my doll room.  Plus, I want the income from the sale to help provide a buffer during Zac's ongoing search for a new job.

I still plan on working on my novel every day; that's a standing goal that won't be going anywhere.

I'm going to drop the goal of working on taxes for this week, because right now the income is more important.

  1. Work on my novel every day
  2. Work on organizing the doll room every day
  3. Prep and run a sale
Short and sweet.  As you can tell, I really want to focus on organizing the doll room this week.  The sale will be scheduled for the weekend, to give me time to go through things, organize the sale stuff, take photos, and price before I hold the sale.

Once the sale is over, I plan to update my writing portfolio with some of the clips I've written for the museum, update my resume, and start looking for some freelance work.  It's been a while since I freelanced, but I'm hoping to get a new client or two to help ease my way back into it.  Not too much, as I don't want to overbook myself and not be able to work on my novel or my doll business, but I am hoping to be able to do a little freelancing on the side again.

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Camp NaNoWriMo Sandwich Update

Here's an update from Camp Sandwich!  As you may remember, I'm still working on my novel in between Camp NaNoWriMo sessions.  There are always two sessions of Camp NaNo, one in April and one in July, but I didn't want to stop writing during the two months in between.  So here we are at Camp Sandwich!

I love that NaNoWriMo allows you the ability to track a writing project at any time of the year now.  Even better, you can track multiple goals for the same writing project.  

I wish you could carry over the existing wordcount and just count the words written during the goal period, but so far that's not a thing.  However during Camp it's pretty easy just to set my word count goal higher and report the existing word count on the first day, even if it does make it look like I wrote a massive amount of words on day 1.

So far I have written every day this month, which is an improvement on April Camp, when I missed a couple days throughout the month.  There were admittedly a couple of days when I finished writing after midnight, so I reported the words as being for the previous day to get credit for writing that day.  It's not tomorrow until you sleep, right?

(I haven't worked on the novel yet today, so ignore the fact that the word count for this day is zero.)

It feels good to make sure I get a little writing in every day, and I feel like I'm making really good progress with the word count and the story.  I've had several aha moments that have been carrying me through the tougher periods, and I'm currently about two-thirds of the way to my goal word count of 90,000.  I don't know whether the book will really be finished at 90,000, but it's a good length for a novel so that was the goal I decided to shoot for.  I may have some things to cut and revise once I'm finished, though, so I'm actually hoping to get a little over that, all said and done.

I'm still hopeful that I'll get the book finished before July Camp, maybe even before that based on how much I'm writing per day versus the daily required word count to reach my goal (which keeps going down, incidentally).  Once I'm finished, I intend to do a quick revision of a few continuity issues that have come up while I've been writing (since I've been entirely pantsing this novel), and then I'll let it sit for a little while before I go back and do a major round of revisions.  I subscribe to the Steven King/On Writing way of doing revisions, which is to let it sit for a little while first so that it's not as fresh or familiar when you do your revisions.

And of course, I need to get back to working on my Ruby Ransome series soon, and since that series and this book are completely different, I don't particularly want to be working on both at the same time.  So that adds a little urgency to my goal of finishing this novel's first draft soon, maybe even before July Camp starts so that I have some separation between the two.  I'll have to be careful about how I shift back and forth while working on revisions, too.

Right now, though, I'm excited to be where I'm at: writing every day and working on making it a solid habit!

Monday, May 13, 2024

Weekly Goals, Week 20

Last week was a little bit crazy, or it felt like it anyway.  Between my mom visiting, last-minute babysitting, and some other things that came up, I felt like I didn't have a lot of time to get things done.

I did, however, work on my novel a lot, which I'm pleased about.  I also worked on museum projects, blogged, and did some other admin-y type things.

I did not, however, make any progress on organization, gardening, or taxes.

I do feel pretty good about what I did get done, though, and I'm trying to keep that in mind.

This week has similar goals (and will until I get that darned organizing done):

  1. Keep working on my novel every day
  2. Write museum copy
  3. Work on organizing and gardening
  4. Run a sale
  5. Work on taxes every day, even if it's just a little

The top priority is my novel.  I feel like it's going really well, over halfway now, and I want to see it to completion.  I'm really pleased that I've been able to keep up a daily writing habit, and I'm hoping it means I'm well on my way to making it a real habit.

Taxes are a priority of course, but they're a longer term priority right now, so I've dropped it to the bottom of the list.  I really would like to start working on it a little every day, but right now making sure we have enough money until Zac finds another job is a bigger priority.

To that end, you'll probably have noticed that there's a new line item on my list.  It's not super high on the list, but that's partly because I need to organize the stuff before I sell it.

I also changed the museum line item slightly - there's one piece of copy left to write that's super important, and then the rest can be pushed to the back burner for now.

Sometimes I really like being at the start of the week and being able to see all the possibility stretched out in front of me.  I just get frustrated when it doesn't go to plan, and I get less done than I had envisioned.

Tuesday, May 07, 2024

April Camp NaNoWriMo Results and Camp Sandwich

I mentioned in my last blog post that I am doing what I'm calling a "Camp Sandwich," still writing every day and tracking my progress even though I'm between the April and July sessions of Camp NaNoWriMo.  That gives me two months of writing between the two sessions, basically.

I didn't reach my goal of 50,000 words in April, but I probably should have set that a little bit lower.  I did, however, write nearly every day, and got a substantial ways into my new novel.

Below is my daily word count in April.  As you can see, it's a little all over the map, but there were only a few days where I didn't write at all.  I'm pleased with that.

I'm pretty proud of my progress so far, and looking forward to working more on this novel.  If I can keep up writing daily during the Camp Sandwich, I think I can finish the first draft of the novel before July's session even starts.  That would free me up to work on Ruby Ransome in July, and then after July is over I can go back and revise the first draft of Amnesia.

So far the post-Camp writing is going well.  I've written every day since Camp ended, and actually have made major progress on the novel, even writing several thousand words on one of those days when I really hit my stride.  The following screenshot is from yesterday, but you can see that it's going well:

Because I'm continuing a project, I raised my word count goal to the length I'm targeting for the overall novel, and brought my Camp NaNoWriMo word count over once April was over.  That's why the graph looks weird.  But I thought it was the best way to track my word count, by continuing with what I already have.  (I really wish the NaNoWriMo site offered a way to enter the starting word count though, as it would make it much easier to track ongoing projects.)

In any case, I'm pretty pleased with my progress so far, and hoping to keep it up throughout the next couple months or until the novel is finished!

Monday, May 06, 2024

Weekly Goals, Week 19

I can't believe I'm only a week into May.  It feels surreal that the last time I posted my weekly goals, it was still April and still Camp NaNoWriMo.

Last week was reasonably productive.  I worked on my novel every day, got a fair amount of blogging done, and actually started browsing for freelance work.  I'm not sure yet where I want to go with that, but I am considering picking up some freelance work again.

I'm most pleased about having worked on my novel every day.  My goal is to keep up the habit between Camp NaNoWriMo sessions (my "Camp sandwich") and hopefully even finish the novel before the July session starts.  If I can do that, I'll get back to work on Ruby Ransome in July.

I also got some networking done for the museum projects, which means that my plans for the Fall Show in September are starting to shape up nicely.

I didn't, however, get anything done with gardening, organizing, or our taxes.  Things kept coming up all week that pushed it all back another day, and another.  I'm hoping to get some of the organizing done today.  The gardening will have to wait as it's incredibly windy today.

Here are my goals for week:

  1. Keep working on my novel every day
  2. Work on taxes every day, even if it's just a little
  3. Keep working on museum projects
  4. Work on organizing and gardening

The list looks very much like last week's, but not because I didn't do anything last week.  Some of these things are going to be revolving goals for a while to come.

Before I sign off, I have to remark on one other thing.  I don't know if it's Zac not working, or the longer days and nicer weather, or what, but I've noticed that my sleep schedule has shifted lately.  I'm waking up earlier and easier, even when I go to bed late, although on the whole I'm also going to bed earlier.  It's an interesting shift, and I'm not entirely sure why, but I'll take it!

Thursday, May 02, 2024

Surface Pro 9 Review

Please note that the following post contains affiliate links.  If you click on the links, I may earn a small commission from your order at no cost to yourself.

I've been using the Surface Pro 9 for over a week now, although the type cover and pen combo I ordered only just came. After over a week, I feel like I have enough experience with the computer to write up a quick review.

I've used a Surface before, so a lot of it is familiar, and I am finding I like it better than the experience of working on the Lenovo.  It ranges from small things, such as liking the feel of the keyboard better, to preferring the smaller size of the screen (the Lenovo was a much bigger laptop than what I'm used to).  I did order a different kind of case than I used to have.  This case is clear to show the blue of the Surface, with a blue bumper around the edges.  (I feel very insecure about the safety of the Surface without a case, so I've gotten cases for all of my Surfaces.)

One of the things I've had to adjust to is using Windows 11, since I had never upgraded my Lenovo from 10.  I do have 11 on my Surface Go, but since I was using it much differently, I dealt with the differences in the operating systems much less.

One major difference is because I don't keep my writing business files on the Surface Go, so I wasn't familiar with the changes in the file directory.  The file directory in Windows 11 is designed to make you use OneDrive.  The OneDrive documents folder is readily available in Windows Explorer, and meanwhile you have to dig through the directory to find a documents folder that won't automatically sync to OneDrive.  Of course they're doing this to try to get you to go over the 5GB limit for the free OneDrive account, so that you'll buy more storage space in OneDrive.  I'm cheap though, so I did my digging and found the non-synced documents folder, and divvied my documents up between "important enough to store in the cloud" and "I don't use this often so I'll just back it up on flash drive and call it good."

I'm also still keeping my active writing projects in DropBox, with backups on OneDrive.  I like the redundancy of having files stored in two different clouds, just in case something fails.

As for the computer itself, here is a quick rundown:

What I love about the Surface Pro 9:

1) The type cover:

Okay, I'm a writer, so the keyboard will always be one of the top things I look at.  I love any computer that gives me a good, tactile typing experience.  I want clicky keys!  The Surface type cover is nice and clicky, despite the button design.  The Lenovo wasn't bad, but it wasn't as good as the Surface type cover, in this respect.  I also really like the fact that with the type cover in the uppermost position has a comfortable slant to the keyboard and a little bit of a bounce when you type.

(Amusingly, I ordered the type pad online, so I did go into a local computer store over the weekend to type on it and make sure I was going to like it.  I assumed I would because I liked my old Surface's type pad, but it was nice to type on it and make sure.  I discovered the perfect way to test a keyboard is by using the browser to go to a typing speed test page.  Why have I never thought of that before?)

I also love that I can replace the keyboard individually if needed.  This is a big deal for me because as a writer, I tend to kill keyboards before any other part of the computer.  I have old computers and keyboards with significant wear to the keys, even to the point of creating holes.  So a keyboard that is completely separate from the computer and easily replaceable is a big advantage for me.

2) The screen:

The Surface really has a great screen.  While I don't love the reflection on a glossy screen, I love the colors and clarity of the Surface screen.  It way outpaces my Lenovo, which was matte to minimize reflection, but had a dim quality, especially when I tried to turn the screen down to conserve battery.  The Surface screen can get considerably lighter and darker than the Lenovo, which is great for working in a variety of lighting.

3) The price:

Did I mention I'm cheap?  I really like that the Surface Pro 9, being an older model, was super affordable.  I don't need the latest tech or the biggest available storage.  I just want something I can write on.  The price varies a little up and down, but seems to be right around $800, depending on the day.  Or, if you care more about speed than I do, there's another Surface Pro 9 for a couple hundred bucks more with a faster processor and twice the RAM.

4) The color:

I'm basically a sucker for anything blue, so of course I got the blue Surface Pro 9, the matching blue type cover and mouse, and a case with blue accents.

What I don't love about the Surface Pro 9:

1) Putting it on my lap

For most things, I love the easel design of the Surface and the 2-in-1 ability to take the keyboard on or off (or to replace it if you tend to destroy keyboards, like I do).  For putting it on your lap, though, the easel design kinda sucks.  Your lap has to be level or the top-heavy screen topples the computer over, and you have to have the easel on your legs.

I used to use a lap desk for this exact reason.  I no longer have that lap desk, as I got rid of it in a fit of Kondo-ing my condo, so I ordered a new one that should actually give me a little more depth than the old one did, perfect for those space-taking easel-and-type-pad combos.

2) The storage space

The Surface also has half the storage space of my old Lenovo, but that's partly because I got a slightly older model Surface to save money.  Granted, I could have gotten a terabyte of storage if I had gotten another Lenovo, so regular laptops probably still have better storage than even the newer Surfaces, but that actually wasn't the most important thing to me.  The only thing I'd need that much space for would be pictures, and I already have a terabyte of picture storage through iCloud.

The Big Picture

All in all, I'm really pleased with my decision to get a Surface this time around, instead of another traditional laptop.  There are things I don't love as much, but they're not dealbreaking things, and they are definitely outweighed by the things I do love.  When it comes down to it, I only got the Lenovo last time because I was in a pinch and needed a computer right away for NaNoWriMo (it was 2020 and we had to host all our write-ins online, and my old Surface was overheating when I tried to use Zoom).  If I'd had more time to choose a computer and more funds with which to buy it, I almost certainly would have gotten another Surface, as I remember looking at them and wishing I could get one.

So I'm happy with my purchase, and looking forward to using my new writing machine!

Tuesday, April 30, 2024

The Last Day of April's Camp NaNoWriMo

Today is the last day of April's session of Camp NaNoWriMo.  For Camp you set your own goal, and since I thought I could maintain the same pace as during November, I set my goal at 50,000 words.

I am dismally behind.

This image cracks me up.  It's the daily tracker part of the stats page on the NaNoWriMo site.  It does the math and tracks how much you need to write every day to achieve your goal, and shows you how much of that you've written.

And... well, yeah.  There's very little chance I could write that much in one day.  Even if I tried, I'd probably burn myself out and not touch my novel again for months, if ever.  Which is exactly the opposite of what I want to do.

So I'm not too sorry.  I've been writing every day and making good progress, and I like my story and intend to keep writing it.  I'll keep writing during May and June, and hopefully finish up the novel during July's session of Camp.

I'll update later with my final word count for the month of April.  It won't be 50,000, but maybe I can at least get close to 40,000.

Monday, April 29, 2024

Weekly Goals, Week 18: Complicated

When I was looking over my week, all I could think of was that this week looks complicated.

It's also going to have a lot of changes in it.

But first, a review: Last week was busy and productive, even if I didn't get to everything on my list of goals.  I got my new computer set up, which basically took me an entire day, from the time I woke up to the time I went to bed.  I was fairly productive the rest of the week, too, getting lots of writing done on my novel and even working on the garden a little (I'm determined not to let it get out of hand again this year, as it's been basically unusable for the past few years).  I babysat both Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons and volunteered at the museum on Thursday.

Friday was my birthday, so starting Thursday evening, I basically stopped trying to be productive and switched into celebration mode.  We had dinner with my mom Thursday night, dinner with friends Friday night, and dinner with my dad Saturday night.  We also saw three movies (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday).  It was a good birthday weekend.

This week will be busy, plus a lot is changing.  My husband is looking for a new job, so he's home, and we're planning on working on organization, home improvement, gardening, and doll things when he's not working on his job search.  I'm also juggling all my regular stuff too, mostly working on my novel and my various projects for the museum.  Camp NaNoWriMo technically ends tomorrow, but I intend to keep working on my novel even after it ends; I want to see this one through to completion.

Despite how complicated the week's schedule looks in my calendar, I'm keeping my goals for the week relatively the same:

  1. Work on my novel every day (even after Camp NaNoWriMo ends)
  2. Work on taxes every day, even if it's only a little
  3. Work on museum projects
  4. Work on organizing (and gardening!)

I'm looking forward to having some time during the week to work on stuff around the house with my husband, but I still need to make sure I get my other stuff done, too.  In some ways, him not working will give me more work, trying to get both done at once, but I want to make sure I take advantage of the time while he has it!  (And hopefully it won't be for too long.)

Oh, and also complicating things is the fact that my husband's birthday is on Saturday (coolest geek birthday ever, May the 4th be with you!).  So I'm sure we'll have celebrations planned around then too.

Oh well.  All I can do is all I can do.  Hopefully next week will get a little calmer.

Monday, April 22, 2024

Weekly Goals, Week 17: Laptop Woes

I blogged earlier about my laptop's sudden demise last night, when the hinge broke and nearly destroyed the screen when I tried to open the computer.  Right now I have the screen's bezel held together with a kitchen clip, both to keep it together and to serve as a visual reminder not to try to close the computer again.

Of course, this is going to add some unexpected to-dos to my list this week, as I'm going to have to set up a new computer and transfer over all my data, which is so time consuming and tedious.

Last week was a mixed bag.  I didn't meet all of my goals but what I did get done, I'm really pleased with.  I worked on my novel every day from Tuesday (our write-in) onward, so I'm back on the wagon as far as writing goes.  I got some good work done on the museum copy, too.

Unfortunately, I fell off the wagon as far as working on taxes and organizing both go.

This week I have similar goals, with the obvious addition:

  1. Set up my new computer
  2. Write every day
  3. Work on taxes every day, even if it's just a little
  4. Work on museum materials
  5. Get back to work on organizing

Unfortunately, it's going to be a busier week.  Not only do I have a new computer to set up, but I also babysit tomorrow and Wednesday (only briefly, thankfully, but it's still a few hours out of my day each day) and will be helping go through an extensive doll collection at the museum Thursday morning.  Plus Friday is my birthday, so I expect a few dinners out to take away from my time as well.

All I can do is to get through it the best I can, I guess, so here goes nothing!

Time for a New Laptop

One of the worst things as a freelancer is when your computer dies unexpectedly.  That's what mine decided to do late last night.

Technically, it's not dead-dead, which I'm grateful for because it means I can pull all my data off of it still.  But the hinge on the laptop broke, and the way it broke, it popped the bezel around the screen partway off when I tried to open the computer.  Fortunately, I saw what was happening in time, and we were able to see inside through the broken bezel well enough to finagle it open.  I put a clip on the corner with the broken bezel, to hold everything together and also to remind me NOT to try to close the computer again (I already tried once, out of habit).

But it does mean I need to get a new computer ASAP, because I depend so heavily on my computer, and because I don't want to wait until it is dead-dead.  I could work on my Surface Go, but it wasn't really purchased for the purpose of running my writing business, and I don't think it would hold up well under the increased demands.

A writer's computer is such an important choice because it does have to hold up to so much.  I've found writing is hardest on my keyboard, as I've worn out several during my career as a writer.  This is the first time I've ever had a hinge break on me, but I'm not entirely surprised, given how much I open and close my laptop.  (Plus, after my research last night it appears that hinges breaking is a common Lenovo problem, probably due to weak hinges or poor hinge design.)

So last night I did some online laptop shopping, trying to decide what to get this time.  Another Lenovo was my first choice initially, as I've had this computer for 3.5 years and have been overall very happy with it.  I did change my mind once it started looking like broken hinges are a common Lenovo issue, and not always covered by warranty, since Lenovo blames the user for opening and closing the computer too much.  (Never mind that that's what a laptop is for!)  I am a little concerned about the likelihood of that happening again, and potentially sooner, as I do like my computers to last me at least 3 years.

Ultimately I decided to go with another Surface.  I really liked my old Surface, even though it eventually died due to overheating issues from a malfunctioning fan.  But I liked the weight, size, and especially the fact that the keyboard was a separate piece and easily replaceable, since heavy keyboard use is the usual way that I kill laptops.

My new computer will be here tomorrow morning, and then I'll set it up, make sure I like it, and start the annoying process of transferring everything over.  The type pad will arrive a day or two behind the rest, so for now I'll be using a different Bluetooth keyboard, and switch over as soon as the new one comes.

It's a big change to go back to a Surface as my main computer, after using the Lenovo for 3.5 years, but I'm looking forward to it.  I have liked my Lenovo, and I don't necessarily need the new Surface for its travel capabilities since I do have the Surface Go for that, but I'm hoping it'll be a better machine for me in the long run than another Lenovo.

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Weekly Goals, Week 16: Back to Camp NaNoWriMo

Tax Day wasn't really the end for me, as it turned out we had too much to do, so I filed an extension.  I need to promise myself I won't forget about it and will continue working on it regularly, otherwise I'll be in the same boat in October.

I did work on my taxes though, not every day because the week got crazy busy, but quite a bit over the weekend.  Unfortunately I also missed several days of writing, especially over the weekend when I ramped up my efforts to work on taxes.  So last week was kind of a bust as far as meeting goals.

Today we have our write-in, so I plan to jump start my writing habit today.  I also have a few other things I need to accomplish this week, including putting together some copy and images for the museum, and getting back to work on organization.  It's too easy to let those ongoing projects fall to the wayside after a week or two of not working on them.

  1. Write every day, even if it's just a little
  2. Work on taxes every day, even if it's just a little
  3. Work on museum materials
  4. Get back to work on organizing
I have some other small projects I want to work on, such as weeding and cleaning up the garden for spring (I have neglected it so badly the last few years!).  Hopefully I'll be able to make some time for that too.

Friday, April 12, 2024

Camp NaNoWriMo April 2024 and Ongoing Plans to Write

We're just over a third of the way through the month right now, and so far I've been able to keep up the habit of writing nearly every day.  There were a couple of days where I didn't write, or only wrote a few words before petering out, but I've largely maintained the habit.

I'd done really well maintaining a daily writing habit last November, but I lost it again in December, and then of course with all of the events of this year so far (my mom's hip replacement, my dad's cardiac procedure, my cat's diagnosis of diabetes, and the doll show), I never made the time to pick it up again.

So it feels really good to be writing daily again, and I hope to continue the habit throughout Camp NaNoWriMo's April 2024 session and (hopefully) beyond.

What's interesting, though, is that I've been writing a completely different story than what I was working on in November (and have been working on intermittently for over a decade).  I came up with the idea for a new story just a few days before Camp started, and decided to run with it.  I knew if I didn't write it now, I wouldn't ever get back to it, so here I am.

It's turning out to be a good story idea, and I'm not sorry.  I feel like it has a lot of promise.

Camp is a much quieter affair than full-blown November NaNoWriMo, of course.  Normally we don't have any write-ins during Camp at all, but we'd talked about starting up a year-round one after the holidays.  After the doll show, with Camp looming, I decided now was the time to do so.  And while it's proving to be helpful, I also feel like a lot of the impetus is on me, since it's only that one write-in once a week.  The rest of the week, I'm doing it on my own.

I'm planning to continue writing even after April is over.  I'll have the weekly write-in to help keep me going, but if I do fall off the wagon again, at least I'll have the next Camp session in July to get me back on track again.

I hope everyone else's Camp NaNoWriMo is going well too!

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Weekly Goals, Week 15: Tax Day Cometh

Tax Day is looming, and the week is slipping away from me like water through a sieve.  Already it's Wednesday evening and the week is more than half over.

But first, an update on last week.  After I wrote my post about my goals for the week, Izzy took another turn.  We ended up switching her food altogether as I couldn't be sure anymore that it wasn't just that food, especially since there were a lot of reports in my feline diabetes Facebook group that the same food was causing problems for other people, too.

After that she went back to normal, but it was another distraction in an already difficult week.  So while I managed to achieve some of my goals last week, I didn't accomplish everything I wanted.  I didn't make any further progress on my Square site, since I didn't have time or spoons to take pictures, and I didn't work on dolls or taxes for the same reason.

What I did accomplish was working on my novel every day.  I'm actually pretty pleased with how it's going, as I feel like I'm doing good work on both the novel and the re-creation of a daily writing habit.

As for this week, to be fair I did expect Monday to be a wash, as we spent the day at the museum to see the partial eclipse.  Yesterday shouldn't have been a surprise either, as I had plans to meet a friend at the barn to ride together, and that often leaves me tired afterward.  Thanks to the write-in we had scheduled in the evening, though, I still got a substantial amount of writing done.

And today I had a meeting at the Denver Museum of Miniatures, Dolls & Toys to talk about future plans for more doll events, some errands to run, and a babysitting gig in the evening.

The rest of the week (what little of it is left) will be similarly busy, unfortunately.  I am babysitting some more (unexpected, though the income isn't unwelcome) and I have another ride planned with my friend.

I feel like at this point, the week is a goner and I just need to focus any remaining time on the most pressing of goals:

  1. Work on taxes
  2. Write every day

Yes, I still want to make sure I work on my novel at least a little every day, but other than that, I'm going to try to spend any free time I have between now and Friday on taxes.  This weekend we have very few plans, so I should be able to devote most of that time to taxes.

Since Tax Day is Monday, I anticipate I'll be working on it still then, and probably won't officially start my week until Tuesday again.

See you on the other side!

Tuesday, April 02, 2024

Weekly Goals, Week 14: Camp NaNoWriMo Is Here!

Well, the week got off to a rough start since we had to take one of our cats to the vet yesterday, for the second time in three days.

This cat was actually diagnosed with diabetes on January 31st, the day before my mom's hip replacement surgery, but I neglected to blog about it at the time because so much else had happened.  But that's been one of the things I've been managing over the past two months, while everything was blowing up at the same time.  It has been a journey for sure!

Anyway, on Saturday she suddenly stopped eating and started throwing up and having diarrhea, so we hustled to get her into the vet before the holiday, figuring we didn't want to have a pet emergency on Easter.  They said she was very dehydrated and gave her fluids, which seemed to perk her up.  She ate fitfully for the next two days, so we took her back in yesterday for more fluids and a fructosamine test.  By the time we took her in, however, we had determined that it was likely bad food that had caused the issue, since as soon as we switched to a new case, she started eating fine again.  Today she seems pretty much back to normal.

Between that and a bunch of errands, though, yesterday was almost entirely hijacked.  I finally had a chance to plan out my week in Google Calendar and blog about it today, but the rest of today will likely be hijacked as well, between errands, barn chores, and a brand new write-in.

But that last part is a thing in itself, because yesterday was the start of Camp NaNoWriMo!  That means (hopefully) a jump start to my languishing writing habit.

I actually started writing a new story on Friday.  I had an idea and I just ran with it.  It's turning out to be an excellent story, so I'm going to focus on that this month, despite Ruby still waiting in the wings.  I don't want to say no to the new story idea.

Last week wasn't the most successful of weeks, but it wasn't terrible either.  I did get the write-in set up, and I did get the sales stuff reorganized a little better.  I also worked a lot on a new Square site for my doll business.  Making progress on three out of five goals isn't bad!  However, I didn't have the motivation to work on dolls as I had planned, nor did I get started on taxes.  The taxes especially are a problem, because I'm running up against the deadline.

Unfortunately this week has a lot that is getting thrown onto the list, so I'm trying to be careful about writing goals I can accomplish:

  1. Start writing daily for Camp
  2. Work on doll collection organization
  3. Make progress on future sales plans
  4. Get back to work on dolls
  5. Work on taxes (!)

It's a big week, especially with one day already lost to Izzy and errands.  But the weekend should be largely available to me, too, which will help.

Most likely Monday of next will be a loss as well... well, in a manner of speaking.  With all of Izzy's problems, we decided not to travel to catch the full eclipse, as I didn't want to leave her in someone else's care right now, while we're still trying to get her insulin doses and her glucose control a little better.  So instead we are going to the museum for education and eclipse viewing.  So I expect not to get much else done that day!

Friday, March 29, 2024

Another Reason Why I Love Plottr

 It's been a while since I blogged about how awesome Plottr is.  I mentioned it way back when I first got my Surface Go as a travel computer, and again when I did a review of the Surface Go.  But somehow I've never blogged about their awesomeness as a standalone post, even though I meant to.

TL;DR: Plottr is increasing their prices in early April, which is what instigated the purchase that made me decide to write this post.  If you have been considering trying it out, click here to get Plottr now!

Also, their customer service is awesome.

Note: This post includes affiliate links, but only because I genuinely believe in this software, and wouldn't mind getting a few bucks back for recommending it.

I initially bought Plottr when they offered a discount as part of the prize package for "winning" NaNoWriMo.  I decided that I had enough going on in my novel series that I needed a series bible in a way that Scrivener couldn't do for me.  I liked the visual interface of Plottr, so I decided to try it.

And wowwww was I blown away.  Plottr has so many features and they're ever expanding.  I can plot individual books, upload covers, set up character sheets and other notes and indicate which installments they appear in, and then export everything into Scrivener so that all the pertinent information is automagically loaded into Scrivener project for each novel in the series that I write.  

Fast forward to last spring.  My dad was planning a trip and asked me to go with him, so I bought the Surface Go with the intention of putting Scrivener and Plottr on it so that I could work on the trip.  Of course I'd only gotten a license for one computer for a year with Plottr, so I had to upgrade my license in order to make it work.

I reached out to customer service to see if I could get the upgraded license prorated, and they upgraded me with my original NaNoWriMo discount, plus restarted my year.  I set it all up so that I could save my files to Dropbox and have them accessible from either computer.

Fast forward to now.  Plottr sent out emails recently warning us that the prices would be going up soon, so if we wanted to upgrade to Lifetime (no more annual fees!) we should do so before early April.  My license period hasn't expired yet, so I reached out to see how to streamline the upgrade... and they sent me a link with another prorated amount.

Honestly, between the Facebook group, the regular updates, the tutorial videos, and Plottr customer service, the support for this product is beyond phenomenal.  I'm not sorry at all that I bought the lifetime license.

If you're interested in a powerful series management tool, I highly recommend getting Plottr before prices go up next month!

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Weekly Goals, Week 13: Aftermath

The doll show was on Sunday.  Last week was of course very productive, as I had an immovable deadline that I had to be ready for.  I didn't get everything done that I wanted to do, but I still showed up and made great sales, even better than last year's.

Next year will be even better!  I'm learning and improving as I go.  And I have big plans to expand next year as well!

This week will likely not be as productive.  I'm feeling very fried still, even two days after the show.  I was SO busy all day on Sunday, and didn't even get to quit until about 9:30 or 10pm that night, between packing down, unloading at home, rushing out to put blankets on the horses in the snow, and picking up the dog I'm watching this week.  And that's after being up at 6:30am and being on my feet pretty solidly until I finally had a chance to sit down around 1pm!  It was a madcap day.

So this week I'm trying to balance my goals with the time I know I need to recover.  I often find that I'm sluggish and slow to get moving after a lot of over stimulation or intense activity.  I call it a productivity hangover.  The difficult part is not to let it go beyond a reasonable recovery time, as the inertia tends to spawn more inertia.

And unfortunately, I really can't spare a lot of time spent on recovery right now.  I'm giving myself the rest of today and making myself get back to work tomorrow.  I have a lot I still need to do, which speaks to my goals for the week:

  1. Get the show stuff organized and put away
  2. Start working on taxes (eek!)
  3. Get back to work on dolls
  4. Start working on future selling plans
  5. Set up off-season write-in

I'm trying to juggle all of this, plus recover, while not losing sight of the things I wanted to do once the doll show was over.  I have a lot going on, big picture:

  • I want to keep working on dolls.  I do, after all, have a rehab and reselling business I want to keep up on!  So rather than storing the show stuff until next year, I want to get it all organized to facilitate working on and selling dolls on an ongoing basis.
  • I want to be more prepared for the doll show next spring - and an even BIGGER show in the summer.  There's another show I'm thinking of selling at next summer.  It's a big weekend show, so I'll need to have a lot more dolls ready, much more in advance than what I did this year.  This means working all year to be ready to sell at the shows.
  • I want to keep selling in the meantime.  I don't want to neglect selling entirely until next spring, though, so I'll need to get into a habit of picking up TLC dolls, working on them, and stashing some while selling others.  I'm thinking of ways to reach my full audience (not just Facebook, but also Instagram and blog followers) with items I have for sale, instead of only running sales in my favorite Facebook doll group.
  • I want to get back to work on my novel. I still would like to finish and publish!  I had talked to some people after NaNoWriMo last November about setting up a regular off-season write-in, and I need to follow through with that.  It'll be especially helpful right now, with Camp NaNoWriMo starting next week.
  • I need to start working on taxes.  I've been neglecting this and have a lot to catch up on, so I desperately need to start working on it!  It's bad enough that I think it may crowd out some of my other goals for the moment, but it needs to be done, as that deadline is fast approaching now too.
So much to do!  It's hard to prevent being overwhelmed, especially with multiple projects going at once.  I'm going to give myself the rest of today to recover from the show, and just focus on some minor tasks for now.  The rest of the week will be for the goals I listed above.

Monday, March 18, 2024

Weekly Goals, Week 12: One Week Left

It feels like most of last week got away from me.  I did accomplish some things, but looking back I'm not sure what.

To be fair, I was also participating in a medical study, so I was at the clinic all day two days last week (and too exhausted afterward to get anything done in the evenings).

I did, however, get some things done and I can't forget that.  I started making branded tags for the dolls I sell or repair at the show, picked up some more things I needed, and got a few posts up on social media.

I just need to accomplish a lot more this week.

So without further ado, my goals for the week are as follows:

  1. Organize doll show stuff
  2. Work on dolls for the show
  3. Post on social media

This week will just totally be focused on prepping for the show.  I do have other things I want to do, but at this point they can mostly wait until next week.

Once this show is over, I want to start working on the rest of the house again, getting shelves up and doll areas organized.  Another goal is to start working on my novel daily again.  Camp NaNoWriMo starts April 1st, though, so I'm hoping to start back up on that the first week of April.  I'll take the last week of March to get settled after the doll show: to recover from the insanity, to get stuff organized and put away for next year's show and so I can access it to sell throughout the year, and to finish (hopefully) getting my doll spaces more or less organized.

Once the doll show is over, I'll also be working on taxes, which I anticipate will take up a lot of my time over the three weeks between the doll show and tax day.  I hope to still be able to work on my novel every day starting April 1st, though.

But first: Get through this week and the doll show!

Monday, March 11, 2024

Weekly Goal, Week 11: Of Frying Pans and Fires

I was so glad when my mom went home and my care duties were over.  I thought I'd have so much time to get things done.

Unfortunately, I was less productive than I'd anticipated in the first half of last week, and then of course I lost all of Thursday to taking my mom to an appointment.  She ended up spending the weekend with us, too, so I didn't get as much done over the weekend as I had wanted, either.

I did meet a major organization goal, but it was more for the sake of my mental state than preparation for the upcoming doll show.  I also spent some time designing professional tags for the dolls, and planning some other things I would need to buy for the show.

This week things are going to ramp up even more.  In addition to all the doll show prep I still need to do, I'm starting a medical study this week that will take up some time over the next two weeks.  I have an initial appointment tomorrow morning, and all-day in-clinic days Thursday, Sunday, and next Friday.  That's three days where I won't be able to work on doll show stuff, although hopefully I'll be able to get some amount of other work done on my computer while I'm there (awkward while I have an IV in my arm and a heating pad wrapped around it to keep it flowing, but still possibly doable).

Most likely I'll be too exhausted when I get home on in-clinic days to accomplish much of anything in the evening.

So with the looming time constraints in mind, my goals for the week are as follows:

  1. Prep for doll show
  2. Work on organization
  3. Post to social media

It's still important to post regularly to social media and keep up with promotion and networking, especially with the doll show coming up, so I can't neglect that.  And some organization will need to be done as I go along, for the sake of getting organized for the show as well.  But on the whole, I'll be 90 percent focused on getting ready for the doll show this week, aside from the days I spend in the clinic of course!

Monday, March 04, 2024

Weekly Goals, Week 10: Ramping Up

My mom went home yesterday, which means today I need to start ramping up my efforts to get ready for the doll show.  I also have a lot of admin-y type things to do today, though, since a lot of things were neglected during the month of February while my mom was here.

As of right now, I have three weeks to get ready for the doll show.  I'm behind where I wanted to be at this point, so I'll have to hustle to get ready for the show.  I've started going through dolls already to pull off the ones I want to bring to the show.  I think I'll be working on more of the same for most of the week, after which I'll start cleaning, repairing, rehabbing, and pricing.  I'm also working reorganizing my show crates to simplify setup and teardown, as well as storage between shows.

I have some other things that need attention too, but for the most part my weekly goals are going to look like this every week this month:

  1. Work on doll show prep
  2. Work on organization

Those two goals are fairly intertwined, so I'll still be working on organization, even while I'm prepping for the doll show.

And then there's this one too.

  1. Post to social media

That's an important one too because I'll be promoting my presence at the doll show.

With all that said, I'd better get to work!  There's no time to lose when I've only got three weeks to do what I'd originally planned to spread out over three months.

Monday, February 26, 2024

Weekly Goals, Week 9: Winding Down

My mom's time here is winding down.  Assuming she is able to drive (we're going to practice first) she'll go home on Sunday.  She's definitely pretty independent now, and is walking without the cane as well as doing most things for herself.

If I thought I would have more time to myself as she became more independent, I was wrong.  Now, instead of taking care of her as much as I was, I'm driving her to appointments and entertaining her.  It's partly that she has more things to schedule now, and partly that she doesn't want to sit around doing nothing all day.  So we've been pretty busy lately, and have a fairly busy week ahead of us.

Her birthday is also Wednesday, so we'll probably celebrate a little then, and we have plans for afternoon tea on Saturday.

Part of me is really sad at the thought of my mom going back home.  She feels like she belongs here with us, and I like doing things with her, including her in our outings and our schedules and our meal plans.

On the other hand, it's difficult to get anything done unless it's something I can involve her in.  So we've gone through some family things and I plan to enlist her help in prepping for the doll show this week, but we're a little limited on what she can help with.  She's independent but not quite fully functional yet.

So in some ways, I'm also looking forward to her going home.  I have a lot to do before the doll show, and I will likely need to work on it almost every day after she leaves.

This week's goals will look much like last week's goals, but I'm hoping to have more time for it this week.

  1. Work on organizing
  2. Prep for doll show
  3. Survive

Honestly, it's a relief that this chapter is almost over.  Starting next week, though, I'll have to ramp up my preparations for the doll show.

Monday, February 19, 2024

Weekly Goals, Weeks 7 and 8: Hanging in There

Last week was so busy, between my mom's physical therapy and doctor's appointments and just general care, that I never had a chance to blog.  In fact, I'm not altogether sure what I did do all week.  I did manage to get a ride in, but looking back, the week is a blur.

It was, at least, a little better than the previous week, when my mom still needed a lot more help and my dad had a surgery as well.  That was my "just survive" week #2.

I did find a little time last week to work on organization, which was good.  I went through my absurd collection of records (I was buying a lot of old records at one point to find authentic 20s music as research and inspiration for my 20s novel series, Ruby Ransome) and picked out about half to donate.  This gets all of the remaining records into the record cabinet, which frees up additional space in the living room.

Unfortunately, the doll show is looming, and I need to get started prepping for that.  I have five weeks as of right now.  It means I need to get back to work on organizing as soon as possible, so that I can move on to sorting out what needs to be rehabbed, organizing everything, and pricing.

We have another busy week ahead of us, so I'm being conservative here, but these are my goals for the week:

  1. Work on organizing
  2. Start prepping for doll show
  3. Survive
Okay, there's still a fair amount of "just surviving" this week.  We have a whole bunch of appointments for my mom, so I'm not going to have a lot of time around that.  But even if I can do a little bit of organization and prepping this week, it's that much that I have out of the way and won't have to worry about in March once my mom goes back home!

Tuesday, February 06, 2024

Weekly Goals, Week 6: I Will Survive

I said last week that my goal for the week was just to survive it, and the theme continues this week as well.  It might be the theme for next week too.

My mom's surgery last week went well, but recovery is going to take some time.  It's about what I was expecting, but much harder I think than she was expecting.  She had her first physical therapy appointment at her apartment last week though, and they are transferring her up to the Denver area office, since it's quickly become clear that she is NOT going home as soon as she thought.  Physical therapy is three times a week, this week and next.  I expect her to be staying with me until at least the end of next week, if not longer, since she can't drive until at least the beginning of March.

Today my dad has a procedure of his own, so I'm waiting at the hospital for him now, with plans to spend the night at his place tonight since it's a cardiac procedure and he's going under anesthesia.  That leaves my husband to take care of my mom, although I do plan to stop home for a bit this afternoon or evening to help my mom get a shower.

Frustratingly, if physical therapy is going to be at our house, I need to finish some cleanup and organization, but I won't be home to do as much as I'd really like to do.  The next appointment isn't scheduled yet but I'm assuming it'll be tomorrow, which doesn't give me much time.  I still need to clear a path for the walker upstairs to the bathroom, as I'm assuming the therapist will want to work on getting in and out of the shower.  The walker is wider than I thought it would be, so we've had to adjust the width of some of the pathways throughout the house; being an older house, my house has narrower hallways and doorways.

With all this on my plate, my goal for the week is, once again:

  1. Survive

I just have to focus on getting through the next couple weeks, and then things should be much easier for a while.

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Weekly Goals, Week 5: Best Laid Plans

Shortly after posting last week, I got sick, and it was a doozy.  I slept most of the day Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  I kept thinking just one more day of resting, and I'd be able to get back to work.  Not so.  I finally felt halfway human when I woke up on Monday, but even then, I ran out of steam quickly and had to nap halfway through the day.

So today I'm in a frenzy to not just get my house ready for my mom to recover here, but also to clean and sanitize everything so she doesn't get sick while she's recovering.  Last night we picked up some heavy-duty cleaners, more serious ones than what I'd usually use, and today I'm doing endless amounts of laundry.  I'm just washing everything: the blankets I used in my sick nest on the couch, our bedding, the guest bedding, and all the regular laundry, as it was overdue as well.  Later I'll be scrubbing all surfaces in the bathrooms and kitchen.

So all my planning and hopes and goals are out the window.  I have one goal this week:

  1. Survive
Send help.

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Weekly Goals, Week 4: Down to the Wire

Whew!  For a minute there I thought that just like last week, I was going to let the entire week go by again before sitting down to write this post.  It's the problem about being busy with things that keep me away from my computer: Things like blogging don't get done.

This week we're officially down to the wire.  My mom's surgery is next Thursday, a week from tomorrow, which means we have a week to get the house (or at least the parts she needs to be able to access) passable for a walker.  I feel like I'm struggling still to get the doll room cleaned up, so I'm not sure how on track I am at this point.  Thankfully we still have a full weekend coming up, which I should probably use to focus on my mom's spaces (instead of finishing up the doll room).

I've had a busy week so far, but I've been putting work in on the doll room where I can.  Yesterday I worked on a doll tea photo shoot for the museum, for photos that we'll use to promote some upcoming events.  I'll need to put together some marketing images and copy, and I also need to work on a website for a client (hopefully some minor work), but I may or may not get to those this week.  The priority is probably the museum images and copy for the February event, since there's a time crunch on those; everything else can be shifted off until next week.

Despite those small goals, the overall goal of organizing and cleaning up the house stays the same.  Here are my goals for the rest of the week and the weekend:

  1. Work on organization projects
  2. Work on February event marketing

Besides organizing and cleaning up, I included the marketing materials for the February event.  I didn't include the other projects because they're not quite as important; all other client work can wait until next week.  For now I need to focus as much of my energy as possible on getting the house ready for my mom's recovery!

Friday, January 19, 2024

Weekly Goals 2024, Week 3: Holiday Week Blues

Yikes.  Since I'm writing this on Friday instead of at the beginning of the week, I guess this edition is more of a week-in-review than weekly goals.  But I didn't want to skip writing about the week altogether.

Last week was actually pretty productive.  I got a bunch done in my organization project, on top of babysitting and other obligations.  It was a good week.

This week has been a struggle as far as productivity goes.  I don't know if it's because it was a short week due to the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday, or because I feel like I'm coming out of hibernation after the extreme cold of the holiday weekend, or just a "productivity hangover" from how much I'd been getting done before that.  We've been super busy lately, and that does sometimes have the effect of making me into a slug once the pressure lets up a little.

The weekend was tough, partially because we had extreme cold with one day (Monday) not even making it above zero, and the other days over the weekend only marginally better than that.  I thought that while it was cold, I'd be motivated to get stuff done inside, but the opposite seemed to be the case: It made me want to hibernate.  The effect was compounded by the fact that I was dog sitting for the weekend, and we ended up with the dog for an extra night when the family got stuck in the mountains due to the snow and cold.  Their dog can't be left alone, and tends to shadow me at home, which also makes it difficult to get anything done while she's here.

I thought once I dropped the dog off home on Tuesday and the weather warmed up, I'd be able to get stuff done, but I forgot to take into account that my mom was coming over on Tuesday.  She stayed the night and didn't leave until late in the day on Wednesday, so that took out two more days.  Yesterday I felt like I struggled to get anything done, and today has been much the same.

I'm thankful today is Friday.  Today I have some copy I need to write for the museum, and then with the rest of the weekend my main goal is to get back to work on organizing.  I have two weekends left to get the house ready for my mom before her procedure on February 1st, so I need to get moving on that.

Monday, January 08, 2024

Weekly Goals 2024: Week 2

I can't believe it's already the second week of January!  Last week started out with the post-holiday drag getting back into the swing of things, but it ended with absolutely crazy levels of busyness, at least for me.

My only goal for last week was to work on cleanup and organization, and you know what?  I accomplished that!  And actually, I made a lot of progress.  My doll room has been a wreck for a year (okay, probably longer than that, but for a year since I moved it to the bigger room) and I finally started tackling that.  We cleaned and organized pretty much all weekend.  We got a lot done, but there's still a lot left to do.

I'm also trucking along on my social media marketing research project.

This week I decided to focus fully on organization.  I can get started on all other projects (working on my novel, working on client dolls, and now taxes coming up soon, too) once the organization is all finished, but right now we have a time crunch: My mom is having a procedure February 1st, and will need to stay with us for a little while afterward.  That means I need to make sure everything is organized and passable for her while using a walker, which means I have a lot to finish before then.

That being said, I do have a couple other things preventing me from focusing solely on that this week.  I have a scheduled photo shoot with the doll museum tomorrow, a doctor's appointment on Wednesday all the way across town, and babysitting Thursday and Friday.  So my available time will be a little spotty until this weekend.  (I'll also be dog sitting over the weekend, but we should be able to work on organization while the dog is here.)

So like last week, I only have the one goal:

  1. Work on organization projects

This week I hope to finish the doll room and get started on the living room.  The living room is where the sofa bed is for my mom, but in order to put away all the doll stuff scattered about, I need to first finish cleaning up and organizing the doll room.  Then I can do the living room and make room for the walker she'll need after her procedure to get through.

So I'll just keep focusing on this for now, and anything else I can accomplish during the week is just icing on the cake!


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