Redesigning My Work Plan

Redesigning My Work Plan

First, just to get it out of the way, my WiP is now over 25,000 words. It hasn’t grown much since August, less than 12,000 words worth.

I’m still a pantser for the most part. I do character questionnaires as the characters pop into the story. I use the Bing map to lay out where my story is happening, again, as the need arises. Both are just a tactic I use so I don’t forget details and end up making new particulars that don’t fit.

The process is slow. Most of this is due to the passages with physical movement by the characters. I find them hardest for me to do. Thoughts, dialogue, and description are the easiest. It’s a good thing my preference in genre isn’t something like Action and Adventure. I’m relatively sure I wouldn’t have a chance in that, and I would have given up long ago.

During the summer I was hoping to get more done. I was telling everyone, including myself, that warm or cold weather didn’t matter. I still think it doesn’t, but looking at the difference between what I did in the summer vs. what I’ve accomplished just in the last three weeks, there’s obviously something about summer that puts me in a slump.

Could it be that my poor little brain cannot get off the school time routine? School starts in August for the U.S. students these days. Back in ancient times, when I was in school, the school year started in September. I was one of those kids who was chomping at the bit to get back to the classroom by the second week of August . Summer had become a big ugly bore for me. Still, I’m quite certain my motivation wasn’t really ready until September. I would walk into the classroom, sit in my assigned seat and willingly put my nose to the grindstone.

Since the latter part of that first week of September, I’ve had good writing spurts. I’m not up to good sessions yet, but it’s better than working like a snail.

Did I hear you whispering about NaNoWriMo? No, don’t expect me to do it. I have a distraction that’s unbelievably annoying. There would be too many days when I wouldn’t get enough done. Get rid of the distraction? I would if I could, but I can’t.

Still, there’s a lot I can do to boost my output. Most of what I need is psychological in nature. Whatever works, right?

I still don’t have a new desk top. I’ve come to the conclusion that it just isn’t going to happen. However, I spotted one at the Wal-Mart site that is within my budget because of birthday money I received. It isn’t super fancy giving me oodles of surface space. It isn’t even real wood, plaster board. It does have the CPU compartment where I want it. It does have a couple of drawers instead of one. And most important psychologically, it isn’t an orange tinted wood stain. It’s charcoal! I’ll still need the shelf for all of the cable equipment, but I do have a piece of wood that will suffice for that. Sure, doesn’t sound psychological, does it? But it is. This orangy finish is so ugly and disquiet.

My space isn’t the only thing that needs rejuvenate.

Some of the blog posts I’ve been reading talk about when writing should be and how much time a session should be. For the longest time, I thought my schedule was okay. I’d like to start at about six in the morning, but there’s that distraction. So I opted for 9:30 to 11:30am. Then another session at 2:00pm for another two hours or more. But then I started questioning the wisdom of all that advice. Is a two-hour stretch enough? How many breaks are right for me? How about all those who write at night?

Come to find out, if I can’t start early, I’m better off waiting until at least 11:00am to start writing on my WiP. The morning is filled with other things that are kind of an obsession with me. Make the bed. Put the morning dishes in the dishwasher and clean off the kitchen surfaces. Do the laundry. Clean bathrooms. Vacuum and dust. By rearranging my time to write, I will get more of the story down and will be more focused. I can write from 11am to 3pm without having my brain go off to something else. Even after that, if the motivation is still high, I could continue for another two hours.

Of course, because of when I’ll be writing, I’ll need food that can sit on my desk and won’t taste raunchy if it lays there a while. Additionally, it has to be filled with protein, and be a little light on salt. There’s only one dish I’m going to have trouble with. That’s my cottage cheese with fruit. It’s a mainstay for me.

Yes, I’ll take a break or two in that span, but no more than ten minutes.

I will be at leisure on the weekends. Working on my WiP without some sort of long break is bound to make me go bonkers. This doesn’t mean I won’t work on it at all, but there won’t be the strict schedule. Instead, I’ll be working more on my blog post, writing comments at other blogs, sending email to friends, and doing some reading. Sure I do these things every evening, but I’m tired then. I’m sure it shows in my writing.

I won’t be visiting as many blogs during the week, waiting to do most of that on Saturday and Sunday. This will afford me time to expand my character questionnaires so they don’t have any chance of being less than three dimensional. At least, that’s what I’m hoping for.

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Will this new plan work? I think it will, although it remained to be proven.

Have you revamped your work plan lately?

“Being in the mood to write, like being in the mood to make love, is a luxury that isn’t necessary in a long-term relationship. Just as the first caress can lead to a change of heart, the first sentence, however tentative and awkward, can lead to a desire to go just a little further.” ― Julia Cameron, The Right to Write: An Invitation and Initiation into the Writing Life

 

Where My Time To Write Is

Where My Time To Write Is
Image provided by Wikipedia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claude_Monet

If I asked when is my time to write, I’d have had an answer–at least I used to have the answer. I had my daily plan set up so that I wrote from ten in the morning to twelve noon and from three in the afternoon to four thirty. These weren’t and still aren’t the only times I write, of course, but when I had a full schedule, it was these blocks of time that stayed in place.

At the worst, that’s the way it was supposed to be Monday through Friday. In spite of all the precautions I took to keep myself adhered to an agenda, I lost sight of these appointed times. The infernal phone blared its ring at ten thirty in the morning, just as I’d begin to feel myself getting submersed in the scene I was working on that day. Another intrusion was calls I’ve been obliged to make that are expected at a specific time. Where my writing time was had been playing havoc with other parts of my life.

Yes, I’ve already discussed the possibilities in previous posts about alleviating these times on the phone. However, how does one tell her aging mother not to expect a call that coincides with elderly woman’s schedule? How does one tell her son to find another more convenient time to call when he’s feeling so alone? These people are dear loved ones who should be given the ultimate of consideration.

I can only assume that my plight is trivial to what many writers contend with on a daily basis. After all, I don’t have a job other than household duties to take up my time during the bulk of the day. Many writers are juggling a job outside the home, household chores, and a family of at least three or more. I’m past all that, commencing upon my senior years. My spouse is usually willing to work around my schedule when he’s home.

I had set up these morning and afternoon sessions at those specific times as a result of my determination of when I was feeling the most creative and productive. It had been taking me a while to awake fully in the mornings regardless of the fact I’m usually out of bed by six o’clock. I didn’t feel  capable of intelligently tackling my WiP until two large mugs of coffee had been poured down my throat and I had a shower.

Yet, in the past few weeks, I’ve found myself writing as early as eight thirty, which is just twenty minutes after my husband leaves for work. By the time ten thirty or eleven rolls around, I’m ready for a substantial break, which is when I can take and give those calls the attention they deserve. This also means I’m not sloughing over chores like I used to do trying to get back to my WiP. I can usually resume my position at the keyboard by one or one thirty in the afternoon, giving myself at least another hour I didn’t have before so I can switch gears to start fixing dinner.

The days when this schedule doesn’t work is when I have appointments or when it’s the weekend. Therefore, I still lose time at the keyboard. I’m beginning to think of these intervals as creativity recharging stretches. It’s remarkable how a purposeful change in attitude can change many things all the way around. Although I still feel the pull to my desk on these days, I’m also more aware of the increased inspirational level when I finally get my butt in the chair.

As I sit here writing this out, it occurs to me that this recent revision of general mood may also be associated with the time of year. The sun comes up earlier and vanishes later. The scenery outside isn’t that drab depressing gray and brown. Color does make such a difference.

I was contemplating putting a calendar on the wall behind my computer desk, but after this minor epiphany, maybe a Monet knockoff would be more instrumental for my sessions with my WiP. I suspect this may be more important than what it appears to be. If I had the money for a laptop, I could take my writing almost anywhere. I could enjoy the sunshine and soak up some vitamin D while I type away. True, I could do the same with pen and notebook too, but I probably wouldn’t be able to read my own handwriting. Monet is one of my favorite artists. I find most of his work whimsical and bright. Having a cheap copy of one of his paintings on the wall I face when I work is bound to have a marvelous effect on my spirit as I pound on the keys.

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Where is your writing time? Have you kept your writing schedule the same, or have you changed it as your life has changed?

“The greatest discovery of our generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind. As you think, so shall you be.” William James

 

Inconstant and Flaky

Inconstant and Flaky
Image provided by Martin LaBar
https://www.flickr.com/photos/martinlabar/

I keep on changing when I’m going to publish my blog posts. It’s more often than the changes I do in design themes.  First I think I can handle three times per week. I start feeling bogged down within two months and switch to two posts each week. Before long I’m changing the number to one per week. Then, within a few months, I’m crawling back up toward three again.

Why do I do this? I even commit myself to these revisions telling my readers what to expect. I feel so foolish when I change my blogging schedule each time. Yet, I feel an urge to do it.

Maybe that’s the whole trouble — scheduling. I got into planning my posts when I decided to have my own domain, which was a gargantuan mistake in itself. I’ve come to the conclusion that only people with a Master’s degree in journalism and software programming should have their blog on its own domain.

(Off the track a little there)

Having my posts scheduled, I figured I could do several within a couple of days and have the rest of the week for whatever else I felt I needed or wanted to do. Doesn’t that sound like a good course of action? It obviously isn’t a bad idea seeing that there’s a lot of professional bloggers who do this.

With the whole idea of my own domain being completely wrong for me, I also gave up on the intention of having a blog at all for professional use. Who, in their right mind, has a professional blog without a product or service? I had every intention of having a product, but it never quite came about. A blog cannot earn money for a person. In the professional realm, it’s a publicist tool, something like a separate social media site promoting whatever product or service the person has to offer.

Now, within the free service of WordPress, I have a ‘personal’ blog. It’s full of random thoughts, stories, and opinions. All are totally my own too (except for a rare guest post). Yet, I’ve hung onto the idea that I must have a schedule. Why do I think this? I write my posts as if I’m talking to friends and acquaintances, which I hope you are. In the world away from the internet, not all conversations with others are scheduled. Why would or should they be anticipated in cyber space? When the receiver of the post is going to read it at his or her convenience, and it isn’t earth-shattering news, why would I need to schedule the piece? The answer (of course): I don’t need to do that.

(With all that said, though, the post before this one was suppose to be scheduled for 11/21 but I screwed it up.)

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Without a calendar of when my posts will be published, am I still inconstant? In my estimation, no, I’m not. What has happened, however, is my blog has genuinely become a ‘personal’ blog, a personal account that shows me how I really am and nothing more.

With the scheduling  expunged, maybe I can change more of what I write about. I don’t think I have one humorous post in the 252 I have up right now. No laugh or even a chuckle on any of the pages since May of 2013. How deplorable!

Yes, by nature, I’m an exceedingly serious person. I’m usually the last one to laugh, chuckle, or even smile, if I do even that. It isn’t because my life has be so grim that I’m permanently grumpy  because my life has even been stupendous at times. Right now life could be better. But this is actually why I need and should put some wittiness into at least some of my pieces. I have to stop appearing as being so damn flaky and grouchy.

I’ve heard and read that more humor should be distributed during bad times. My guess is that it helps you keep a level head so you can make better rational decisions. Somehow the mind won’t be fogged by depressing thoughts. Life is a little tougher for most of us these days. We struggle to keep our jobs and to make financial ends meet. If what I’ve heard and read is true, we can all use a little more humor in our lives.

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Anyway, I’m trying to turn a new leaf in my blog. I hope you’ll be along for the ride.

 “The fact that we live at the bottom of a deep gravity well, on the surface of a gas covered planet going around a nuclear fireball 90 million miles away and think this to be normal is obviously some indication of how skewed our perspective tends to be.”
Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt: Hitchhiking the Galaxy One Last Time

 

The Recognition of Goals

The Recognition of Goals
Image provided by
Kabo
@ https://www.flickr.com/photos/kaba/

It was a week ago this last Sunday that I posted the entry, Clashing to Fulfill Goals. I told you how I was taking chances by not making goals for myself. Skipping down the road of life dealing with things as they appear had become my norm since the kids had grown and ventured out on their own.

Maybe I was just weary from all those plans that must be made while children are growing up. Maybe I should have planned an extended vacation or sabbatical to recover from those years of always having something else that needed to be taken care of. Something like taking two or three years off from making schedules and the constant organization was the ticket I probably should have bought. Instead, I was sporadic, sometimes the super organized neat freak, and sometimes the lazy slob.

I can’t say I was happy.

My foresight is  atrocious — obviously.

Here I am getting ready to journey on the rocky path of elderliness and my perceptions of personal necessities have changed — drastically. Don’t most people my age start thinking about slowing down, if only a little bit? Don’t they start relishing the thought of sitting in comfortable chairs on the front porch observing the world as it goes by? Yet, here I sit at my keyboard trying to figure out schemes to fulfill dreams despite the decline of my mobility and probably my sanity.

Who else does this sort of thing? The only answer I can come up with is this: Only crazy lunatics who have a delusional conception of life’s longevity are doing this kind of thing.

Oh well. Such is life. Are there any other crazy old lunatics out there in cyberspace? Speak up!

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When I first started writing my WiP (work-in-progress), I had given myself the anticipated deadline of May 2017 for the final draft that will be sent out into the world of publishing. I still think this is a good estimation of how much time I need. Howbeit, I didn’t go into any sub-goals. I thought about them. Still, I went by way of expecting intuition and luck to guide me.

Where was my brain? There are so many holidays coming up and I just know how my GAD (general anxiety disorder) is going to act up. It’s manageable, but only if I organize and schedule every little thing that’s important to me. Finishing my first book falls into this category, doesn’t it? Of course it does!

With this pointed consciousness, I have set up the following schedule for my ‘baby’.

2nd draft, halfway point
Dec. 15th
2nd draft, end point
March 15th
(Ides of March)
closed critique
(2 or 3 people)
3/15 to 4/15
start 3rd draft
April 16th
3rd draft, halfway point
June 30th
3rd draft, end point
Sept. 15th
semi-closed critique
9/15 to 10/15
make appropriate changes in draft
10/16 to 10/31
beta reading
11/1 to 11/30
make appropriate changes
12/1 to 12/14
send to professional editor
Dec. 15, 2016
???
until May 2017

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For blogging, I thought I’d still keep that kind of loose. Oh sure, I’ve got my schedule for when posts on published, but I’m not going to designate what type of post for what day of the week. My blogging ideas run in spurts by subject. When I tried to organize my posts by topic, I got apathetic. I hope you can bear with me on this.

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Now I have a question for you. Please, don’t be wishy-washy. I want some usable feedback, please.

What specific subjects within my categories would you like me to explore more? (The category list is at the bottom of the page. I’ve updated it a little.)

“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”
Theodore Roosevelt

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ATTENTION!

If you look at the sidebar on your right, you’ll see that I’m helping a friend with a giveaway. Please check it out by clicking on the image.

 

The Expected Verdict

The Expected Verdict
Image provided by
Lex McKee
@ https://www.flickr.com/photos/lex-photographic/

A week ago this last Sunday I posted an entry asking readers to fill out a survey. My original plan was to prove that a newsletter was worth publishing. The results were an eye-opener for me — in more ways than one.

Later on last week I published another post exclaiming the quiet shock I experienced as the results of the survey came trickling in. The idea of a quarterly newsletter sounded so fine three weeks ago when I was reaching the climax of the first draft of my first novel. I had thought that after a tiny bit of research including the survey and digging into Facebook and Twitter to find out how to work with those two sites in relation to the publication, I’d be all set to write and publish my first edition.

I’m blessed with readers who aren’t afraid of telling me how they feel and what the truth really is. Without their honesty, I’d be following an ill-schemed dream that, most assuredly, would have turned into a big ugly nightmare. In short, I was promptly told the idea of a newsletter in my particular case was nonsensical (good word!).

Even though the notion of a newsletter is thwarted, I have learned some things about my visitors that will hopefully improve my blog posts. If I had just gone by the comments I’ve been receiving for almost the past two years, I would have been misjudging the druthers of my readers. Yes, surveys are a good thing. I just wish I had used other site that offers a free plan other the Survey Monkey. I’m aware that PollDaddy is offered here at WordPress.Com, but, for reasons unknown, I shied away from it. I’ll know better next time.

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What I learned from this survey is this:

  • Most repeat visitors read my blog whenever a new post is published. There are a few who opt for once per week and a few stragglers who pop in ever now and then.
  • Most readers prefer the WordPress Reader, although email subscriptions came in as a close second. No one uses an RSS feed or goes through the social media sites to get alerts of new entries to my blog. (I should have asked how the visitors found out about my blog. Oh well. Such is life.)
  • I was taken aback by what types of subjects my visitors are most interested in. As I stated before, if I had gone by the comments, my conclusions would have been so different. In order of popularity:

Personal stories

Struggles about writing

Personal insight

Personal opinion

Fictional stories and scenes

Updates on current novel project

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I was blown away by the findings. I thought the writers coming to my blog were interested in the progress I’ve been making with my book. Judging from the response to fictional stories and scenes, I’m now questioning my ability to write this book. (Truth be told, I doubt my ability anyway.)

In spite of my initial reaction to the results, I plan to go on pretty much the same with my plans, that is without the newsletter though. After many hours of reflection, I realize that the personal stories are a favorite because I have little, if any, problem writing them. No one knows my life the way I do, right? The struggles with writing, the insights, and the opinions are more of the same, except that they aren’t stories, are they. Well, that’s easy to fix. As for the fictional stories and scenes, I think what is needed is for me to just do a better job on them. Not an easy achievement but definitely worth trying.

The updates on my WiP will be trashed. There’s only two or three chapters left in my first draft anyway. Whenever I get close to the end of that third or fourth draft, I’ll come here to my blog to ask for beta readers. If any of you are really interested in the progress I make from here on out, just ask.

There’s still a full week and a day before Autumn officially starts, but I’m going to start my new blog schedule now. Posts will be published at 1:30pm on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays. I know the time of day is quirky, but it assures me that the entry is more likely to be completely ready with this timetable. It has to do with my inner clock and my daily life. (These times is according to Central Time here in the U.S.)

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As with all of my posts, I welcome all comments so start typing out there.

Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterward. — Vernon Law