Originally published at Sherry D. Ramsey. You can comment here or there.

Samsung_840_EVO_SSD-8_-_front_blackIt is Friday the 13th, and yet I am cloning and installing a new SSD in my laptop. Nope, no triskaidekaphobia, paraskevidekatriaphobia, or friggatriskaidekaphobia here.

It’s been a good week for writing, and my NaNoWriMo WIP has topped 30k words. I spent the first 29k of that figuring out what the novel was about, and then yesterday finding out how it would all fit together, but it’s not the process, it’s the product, right? For a usual November I would be ecstatic to be at 30k words on this date (and it is, in my 13-year tenure, unheard-of), because I’d be more than halfway to goal–but of course, this year’s actual goal is much higher, and so I am merely satisfied. Satisfied is also a good place to be, however.

I had a story rejection this week but…well, as my good friend Nancy says, at some point they get to be more like a kick on the shin than a devastating injury. They sting for a bit and then you shrug them off and that’s it. I haven’t found a new place to send the story yet because, darn, it’s long, and the majority of markets these days are looking for 5k or less, it seems. I just don’t write that many stories in that length. I’ll try to find some time to focus on that in the next week.

I’m doing a lot of on-call story advising this month since there are so many stories happening in this household right now. But that’s fun, and it’s so interesting to be able to watch other writers develop under the microscope, so to speak. And it’s nice to be able to answer many of the questions that I had to research long ago.

I set up a new blog over at WordPress.com this week, called Stalking the Story. Why do I want another website to look after? Well, I plan to make it the repository for just my writing-related posts, so if that’s all you’re here for, they’ll be cross-posted over there as well. I’m also hoping to have some guest bloggers over there in the coming months. It may, over time, turn into a cooperative blog, which is something I’ve thought I’d like to do for some time now, in partnership with other writers. We’ll have to see how it evolves.

Habitica avatarMy desk is actually getting a bit messy, as it is wont to do during NaNoWriMo, so I plan to take a break this weekend and tidy it up. No, I will not be procrastinating on my WIP. The other thing I did this week was set up an account at Habitica, which is essentially a way to manage your productivity and habits by gamifying your life and translating it into a video RPG. So far, I love it. It’s amazing how much more satisfying it is to make my bed when I know I’m getting XP and virtual gold for it. :) I mean, I’ve only been using it for a few days and I’m already level 5!

Some things I did to earn gold and XP this week:

  • made my bed
  • walked on the treadmill
  • wrote. a lot.
  • did laundry
  • drank more water
  • finished the fall yard work

I’ll bet you did some of those things this week too. BUT did you get XP for them?

SSD Photo Credit: By Samsung Belgium (Flickr: SSD840EVO_008_Dynamic_Black) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Originally published at Sherry D. Ramsey. You can comment here or there.

Photo by stockarch“Yeah, right,” I can hear you saying. “Deadlines are horrible. Deadlines are stressful. Nobody likes deadlines, let alone loves them!”


Well, I can see your point. Even the name is kind of scary, isn’t it? Deadline. Obviously there are going to be dire consequences if such a thing arrives and you are not prepared.


For writers, though (as well as others, but on this blog, we mainly talk writers, right?), having a deadline can be a positive experience—if you look at it in the right light. Here are eleven* reasons that a deadline can actually be your friend.


1. Deadlines force you to plan your time realistically. You’re always trying to get more organized and use your time better, right? Well, a deadline will make you look at how you’re spending your time and how much time it actually takes you to accomplish something. If you take that knowledge with you beyond the deadline, that time-planning can spill over into your other work and help your productivity beyond this one project.


2. Deadlines make you take control of your work instead of letting it control you. This is a common pitfall for writers; let me give you an example. If you are going to have this eight-thousand-word short story ready to submit before the submission period closes, you don’t have the luxury of following every whimsy of subplot and character idiosyncrasy that your brain comes up with. You have to write this story in a good tight first draft, edit it judiciously, and call it done. You have to take control. Bring that kind of control to other projects, and you’ll end up more productive overall.


3. Deadlines force you to be focused and efficient. Here’s another example. You have five days to finish this manuscript. It shouldn’t take you more than one of those five days to figure out, for instance, that you work most productively in the mornings and are essentially useless after dinner. The next four days, you’re going to make sure you spend time on your deadline project in the mornings. Take this knowledge with you to the next project, and stop doing email and blogging in the mornings instead of writing. Let deadlines teach you skills that go beyond a single project.


4. Deadlines force you to re-evaluate your level of perfectionism. If you have too many manuscripts sitting around on your hard drive because they’re just “not quite ready yet,” this one is for you. Yes, you may end up with a less-than-perfect manuscript if you set a deadline to finish it. But the perfect manuscript is something of a mirage, anyway. Better to have a finished one in submission than a never-done one languishing in a drawer.


5. Deadlines make you develop strategies to bypass procrastination. This one doesn’t need much explanation. You may have the cleanest house on the block or be the best Angry Birds player in town, but if you’re going to meet deadlines, you have to learn to recognize and bypass your own procrastination strategies. One way to do this is to make your procrastination tasks reward tasks instead. You can play ten minutes of Angry Birds or switch your laundry loads along after you work on your project for an hour (be sure to set timers for both!). You may find such things less appealing as rewards. If so, swap them out for something that really appeals to you–as a reward.


6. Deadlines make you realize what it is actually possible for you to achieve. Anyone who’s participated successfully in NaNoWriMo understands this one. Deadlines take all the skills we’re talking about here and let you smoosh them into a big ball of I-can-do-this. And once you know what’s possible…well, you’re likely to take on, and accomplish, more.


7. Deadlines allow you to plan for what’s beyond the deadline. If you have a deadline to meet, it means you’re actually going to finish this project and be able to move on to something else. No-one really wants to edit the same novel manuscript for the rest of their lives, do they? Of course not! You want to finish something so you can get to the Next Big Thing. But neither do you want to drop half-finished projects just to get to the next one. Deadlines let you set parameters to work on things, finish them, and then move ahead.


8. Deadlines help you figure out what your real priorities are. This is sort of related to #7. Sometimes you’ll have to choose between projects because of conflicting deadlines. If you’ve been dithering, trying to work on two or more projects but not really making satisfying progress on anything, a deadline can make you choose what’s important and focus on that.


9. Deadlines make you stop wasting time and actually complete something. Maybe you’re one of those people who’s always talking about writing but not really writing. Maybe you’ve been working on the same damn manuscript for so long that even you’re sick of it. Maybe you’re really trying to write, but something is holding you back—fear of failure, fear of success, yada, yada, you know the list as well as I do. A deadline can make you, er, produce—or get off the pot.


10. Deadlines let you cross something off your project list. Ah, the list. Don’t tell me you don’t have one, and that you don’t know the sweet, sweet satisfaction of crossing something off it. And if you don’t, you should make one. Really. Because there’s nothing as lovely as “Finish X by DD/MM/YYYY” with a big fat strikethrough running across it.  Unless it’s writing “The End.”


Off to try and meet a big deadline of my own.


*Why eleven? Because everyone does lists of ten. I’m trying to think outside the box, here, people.


Photo credit: stockarch

In my ongoing quest to better organize my writing life, I've decided to institute Submission Mondays.  This doesn't mean that I will make submissions every Monday, or only check/deal with submissions on Mondays, because of course that would be over-organizing, and I don't want to go down that road.

What it does mean is that I've designated every second Monday as a day when I will:
  • check to see if there are submissions I need to follow up on
  • review my projects to see if there is something that is not in submission that should be
  • if so, find a suitable market, prepare the submission, and get it out there
  • if not, see if there is a project close to being submission-ready that I could/should work on, and do so
You might be thinking that I should be doing all of these things regularly anyway.  Well, that's true, but it's very easy for the submission process to get pushed down the priority list, and for smaller projects (like short stories) to fall off the radar entirely. I think that declaring a specific day, on a specific timetable, to check for things that have fallen through the cracks, makes sense.

And if, on a Submission Monday, I find that everything possible is already in submission--well then, I'll work on something new, to deal with on a future Submission Monday.  Sounds like a good plan to me.

Motivation

Apr. 2nd, 2011 10:02 pm
sherrydramsey: (time)
Well, I think I've finally figured out what keeps me motivated, stops me from procrastinating, and makes me more productive on a daily basis.

Timekeeping.

Yep, maybe it hearkens back to my lawyering days, when you lived or died by your billable hours, but if I keep a timesheet of how I'm spending my day, I seem to get a lot more productive work done.

Earlier this year I made up a schedule for myself, intended to keep me organized and on track by alloting a certain amount of time each week for the various committments I have.  That lasted maybe a week before I wasn't even really looking at it anymore.  However, I decided to keep a timesheet for a week or so, because I really felt that I was falling prey to a lot of time demands that were interfering with my writing.  I wanted to see what was sucking away all my time.

The discovery that timekeeping keeps me on track was only a happy coincidence.  However, since I've made it, I've seen a big difference.

I'm not using anything fancy--printed sheets with a simple table I made in OpenOffice, to keep track of time blocks and what I'm doing in them.  That's it.  It's early days yet, but so far it's working better than anything else I've tried.  If you have difficulty keeping on task and on track, something similar might work for you.
While I still have two days left to log writing time for this week, they will be the weekend, so I think it's highly unlikely that I will get to my goal hours this time around.  Maybe it serves me right for getting cocky about how well last week went (614 minutes) and upping my goal by half an hour. When I think about it, though, it was mostly *Rest Of My Life issues that kept me from writing.

I'm really not sure what I can do about that except try to plan better (the things I CAN plan) and try to find catch-up time when the planning doesn't work.

~.~.~

In other news, I came to a huge and sad realization last night.  I need to get rid of some books.

I've been buying books since I was in university and the city offered a variety of used book stores, of which I would make the rounds almost every weekend.  The book acquisition habit has continued over the years, and although I do get more titles from the library these days (especially when trying an author for the first time) I still like to buy books.  Part of me would like to count the number of books in the house--and part of me is afraid to do that.

However, when I was doing some pre-housecleaning housecleaning in the bedroom last week, I realized that I have at least 50+ books in that room alone waiting to be read or in various stages of being read.  And when I do read them--I have nowhere to put them if I want to move new to-be-read books into that space.  Every bookshelf in the house is already packed or over-packed.  I don't see us adding a new room to the house just to hold books.  Sooooo...the only conclusion is that I have to get rid of some.  And while we're planning a Great Purge of the house this spring, the idea of sorting through the books and moving some them out of here is more daunting than all the rest of the things that I know need to be done.

*Sigh*  I wonder if I could convince my husband to add on that extra room...

June 2017

S M T W T F S
    123
456 78 910
111213 1415 1617
18192021222324
2526272829 30 

Syndicate

RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Sep. 20th, 2017 06:16 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios