Avoiding “Crash and Burn”

Ok, Ok…

I have realized that Superwoman I am not. Hehehe…the Inspired & Independent Book Club is reading a book titled Chasing Superwoman. It is a memoir and details the author’s realization that she had been trying to be Superwoman — lawyer, mother of 3, wife, Sunday School teacher, and the list goes on.

Today, as I realized that I haven’t written a blog post since last week, was the day I decided to stop trying to be Superwoman too. There is a need within myself to get my book written. CampNaNo has been the fire I have needed lit under my feet to get moving on the manuscript and stop procrastinating more than writing. I have been dedicated and diligent in the process and have been enjoying the new found focus on this manuscript.

That said, I am going to have to curb some of my other online activities…at least while I am working on the first draft. Once I get the words out of my head and heart and onto the page, then I can return to a more full online life. So that means instead of posting 5 days a week, I will have to cut down to one post a week. There will still be the monthly Saturday Shorts, but by the next time that is due I hope to have completed my first draft. I am also sure that there will be additional postings some weeks — I can never tell when something hits me that I need to share on the blog.

The Book Club will continue in full force without any changes. As a writer, I am constantly reading anyway. Hosting the Book Club hasn’t significantly impacted my writing, so I will leave that as is.

Now that I have spoken that into the universe, you know I will figure out a way to post more often…

I will be posting a new post each Wednesday. Be prepared — it could be long LOL! I am a writer after all and I love words, but not being able to post but one day a week may leave me with a short story load of information to share…

Off to write more in my manuscript… You may get a second post today. This one is more of an announcement than information, and I can’t have that!

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Productivity…

It was a great weekend, although far too short as always. Relaxing. Spent quality time with the family. Got some yard work done, including some mulching. Even did some housework — the bane of my existence…

What I did not do was produce. At least not in the writing sense… I wrote my minimum 750 words daily on the http://www.750words.com site. This is a site that allows you to create a private “diary” type writing space. Gives you a blank page with word count to start, and keep, writing for as long as you desire but encourages you to write at least 750 words a day. I even took them up on their May’s writing challenge to write every day during the month of May. So far, so good…

Much past those 750 words (well, 784 to be exact…), I did no writing. Why? Because I purchased a new “for Dummies” book on Friday and couldn’t put it down. It’s the Canon EOS 60D for Dummies book and it’s a godsend. I have had my Canon EOS 60D for over a year now and have never taken it off of full automatic mode. Yep…I bought that high quality and expensive camera and basically have been using it as a point-and-shoot for a year. Tisk, tisk, tisk! Now that the weather’s warm, I am bound and determined to take my camera off of auto and get the full benefit of the 60D by going manual.

So… I spent my whole weekend reading. Reading the Canon EOS 60D for Dummies book and playing with my camera. I have read 68% of the book as of this morning… I will report, however, that I am on full manual mode as of this writing and loving the creative freedom! I managed to take some excellent shots of the boys playing darts in the backyard and running around with Ebonie, my puppy. I even pulled off the Continuous Shot setting and got a burst of consecutive shots of them running with the dog. Awesome! My next feat is a timed shot…

This week, we’re supposed to be discussing self publishing. I just want to play with my camera LOL! Look for an article later today on our week’s topic. I promise to stop playing with my camera long enough to finish the research and get the post written. Until later today…

Using Excel to Create an Editorial Calendar

So you’ve noticed I’m really on a kick with this editorial calendar thingy, huh? Two posts about it two days in a row…

I see an EC as an immense tool for bloggers. Although I have just instituted this tool in my writing life yesterday, it has already done innumerable things to assist me:

  • Organized my weeks into cohesive “themes”
  • Ensured that I am not overloading my readers with the same drudgery day after day after day
  • Gives me a clear overview of my weeks and months
  • Has “forced” me to plan ahead — I had to fill out the calendar once created, right?
  • Removed the forced scrambling to 1) come up with something to post, and 2) writing it on the fly once I thought of something so that I can get it posted that same day ;-p
  • The list goes on and on…

I used Microsoft Excel to create my EC. It was the easiest piece of software I could easily use to layout the calendar. Others have used Microsoft Word and the table function in Word. I decided not to deal with adjusting rows and columns in Word when Excel was made to easily do just that. Here’s a screenshot of the beginnings of my calendar, with the layout of it being based on Michele Linn’s screenshot from her article entitled How to Put Together an Editorial Calendar for Content Marketing, which I shared with you in yesterday’s post:

EC Screenshot

My Editorial Calendar Screenshot

My goal is to post an article 5 days a week — Monday through Friday. On the first Saturday of each month, I will share a short story writing sample. This sample writing project will be a “first draft”, so don’t look for perfect grammar and sentence structure and the other trappings of finalized prose. It’s a fun exercise for self to keep me writing and for my readers to keep them motivated and writing as well.

Each day of the week has a specific theme. For example, each Monday I will write about the articles and information which I’ve devoured over the weekend as it relates to writing. I read up on the writing industry constantly and I would like to share some of the information I garner through my reading. Fridays are my “break” day where I get to write about whatever is churning up in that brain of mine. It’s the day I let the Muse free to do as she pleases. I may post a poem, or you may get an article about my Shorkie, Ebonie (a Shorkie is a Shitzu/Yorkie “designer” breed dog — a mutt with a price tag LOL! but I love her so…she’s my writing buddy…). You never know…

I hope that yesterday’s article at least got you thinking about ECs and how they can be useful to you in your writer’s life. If not, then today’s should really get you going — especially if you’ve been struggling to be a faithful blogger who publishes great content and not just throwing something up to say that you post daily. This tool in one day has already had a major, positive impact on my schedule and my time management. You could enjoy the same benefits too by instituting your EC today!

If you are interested in instituting an EC but are not the techie type, shoot me an e-mail and I’ll send you a blank copy of my Excel spreadsheet for your use. You will need Microsoft Excel in order to open/edit it for your use. Google Docs may also be used as well.

Time to share…
Let’s see a screenshot of your EC! What software did you use to create it? Any tips on easy ways to create one? You are creating a daily calendar for a full year afterall… 

Social Media: A Major Distraction? A Useful Tool? Or A Bit of Both?

What’s your take on social media as it applies to being an author?

Is it a distraction for you? Is it a useful and much needed tool? Or, do you believe it is a bit of both? Me, it is a bit of both… Coming from working in the information technology field and being a self-proclaimed “geek”, social media can be an enormous distraction. And for the same reasons, it can be a great tool.

I am able to network with like-minded individuals through social media. Online writers’ groups, forums, resource pages and the like are all invaluable when writing. On the flip side of that coin, I can also go on the forums to research a topic, get feedback and opinions, or get the latest buzz about something and get totally sucked in tweeting, chatting, and surfing the forums to see what my colleagues are up to…

Social media is needed by authors in order to get their message out and to assist them in building their platform. You have taken the time to write and perfect the next blockbuster novel or other written work. What better way to spread the word then the world wide web? It is one proven method of getting your message out to the world. Of course, there are many other marketing methods, tools, and avenues you will take; however, there is no better electronic medium than the Internet, and no better vehicle than social media.

Your website is up and ready to receive visitors. You have been the most faithful blogger. You have worked hard while you were writing to build your following using Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn/every-social-site and have a nice number of followers. Your website and blog statistics are up. You would be remiss not to mention on every social site you’ve used to create buzz for yourself that your much anticipated and talked about work has finally been released — both traditionally and in electronic format.

All-in-all social media is a necessary evil. An evil because writers need nothing else to use in a procrastination or writer’s block cycle — we are already doing whatever we can to avoid writing. Just a simple fact in a writer’s life… A necessity because used properly it can be a vehicle to assist in self and book promotion, as well as a resource for pertinent information during the writing process.

Time to share…
How do you feel about social media? A tool? A distraction? Both? Let’s discuss how we can ensure it’s used as a tool and not a
distraction. 

Looking for a Writing Partner…

I just wanted to put it out there that I’m looking for a writing buddy. Someone serious about writing who will help keep me accountable and keep me writing. My buddy should want the same from me in return.

I am looking for someone who wants specific deadlines to help keep us accountable. We can do it weekly or bi-weekly; however, I need at least bi-weekly communication.

It can be someone outside of my hometown (Gwynn Oak, MD) as long as the person is an avid computer user and doesn’t mind communicating via e-mail and Skype when we aren’t able to chat otherwise.

Gender does not matter…

I write primarily creative non-fiction — empowerment books. Telling my story/experiences or the experiences of others in such a way that it will inspire and encourage you to act in your own personal situation.

I also write romance novels. And I dabble in poetry.

However, I am an avid reader of all genres. I would prefer a partner who at least is an avid reader of creative non-fiction in order that they can give me an objective opinion. However, if you feel that you are able objectively and constructively offer your criticism, then let’s get together!

This is not a paid gig. It is a mutual writing relationship where we help each other improve our manuscripts and push forward to publication day.

Lastly, I would love to form a writing group in my area (or join one if one exists) where I can meet up with other writers in a group.

If you are interested in partnership, comment below or shoot me an e-mail. The writer’s life is so much easier when they have someone to commiserate with together…

Fighting the Urge

Writers are unique creatures in my opinion. They have a passion for words and ideas and they are able to get those words and ideas down and on paper while constantly being mind-whipped with the influx of new ideas. As one author puts it — “we’re always chasing mental rabbits.” My question, then, is how do you fight the urge to chase the rabbit that just ran past your pen as you are working on one manuscript? What stops you from switching gears mid-write and chasing down that path after the new rabbit?

These are questions I’m grappling with myself. I currently have 3 or 4 WIPs (works in progress) and the more I write and work on any of those manuscripts, the more bunnies keep running past my typing fingertips trying to distract me and take me down a different path. This is what causes me writer’s block — too many ideas jamming up my writing flow… It is very rare that I have the opposite problem — needing to write and having no words come to mind.

What I have done thus far is first and foremost try to ignore those bunnies. I know that it’s just the EIW (Evil Inner Witch) trying to steal my precious writing minutes from me. If that doesn’t work and the bunnies just keep hounding me, then I take a moment to pause and jot down the idea. I have a file in Storyist (I’m an iPad + Storyist writer…) that is for General Ideas. I’ll open that file and jot down some brief bullet points — a quick brain dump of the ideas that are in the way of my focusing fully on the manuscript at hand. It’s really helped me a lot. It allows the idea to be “born” because it won’t stop pushing until I get it out, and it allows me to get right back to the manuscript I was working on without much delay.

Time to share…
What do you do to stop yourself from chasing all of the rabbits?

Time Management for Writers

Like me, there are many authors who have other roles in life in addition to writing. I, myself, have a full-time job outside of my home, I have 3 children — two still in elementary and one adult child, a granddaughter, and 2 other businesses. All that on top of writing…

Time is usually not on my side. I have a very busy day job which I absolutely love. It’s not often that you get to work in a position that you love. I am blessed to have both a day job that I love and my writing passion. I do not have time during my work day to sneak in writing time. Sometimes I am able to write at lunch; but generally I surf the web and wolf down a sandwich during my lunch hour. After work, there’s picking up the boys from karate class, getting dinner made and eaten, and preparing for school and work for the next day. And of course, I have to make quality time for my husband. When then do I have time to get writing done???

It’s been a real struggle for me. I have found time for writing early in the morning. Because we are a one car family, I get to work 1.5 hours early every day. My goal is to dedicate this 90 minute timeframe before my work day begins to writing. Haven’t quite mastered that, but it’s coming. And after reading a great article on the Make A Living Writing Blog, which can be found here, I think I will have this time management for writers down to a science by the end of next week.

I took the time after reading the article to follow the writer’s advice. I pulled out my iPad, got the calendar up on screen, and on each of the 7 days of the week I scheduled one, and only one, activity to concentrate on. I do have that bonus — having those 90 minutes in the morning when I am wide awake and coherent and sitting at a desk in front of a computer in an almost silent office. I get to do two things each day — write for 90 minutes in the morning, and then the day’s activity that I’ve scheduled that is my focus for that day. Gladly, I get to get a little more mileage out of Carol’s time management suggestion; however, even if you can only do what Carol suggests in her article then I think you’d be putting yourself on a plan for success.

Really, I’m looking forward to this new grip on time management that I have instituted in my life. I hope it works for me as well as it worked for Carol. I really think it will. It has already forced me to determine the “must do’s” from the “I should get this done at some point in my life.” It made me prioritize the stack of stuff I had on my plate, file away what didn’t need to be there, and decide what is really important to me in life. Those are the 7 things that I assigned to each of the 7 days of the week. The rest of the stuff? Well, it’s on my “To Do Someday” list..

Let’s share our strategies — maybe what you do to make time to write will help someone else along the way. What time management strategies have you implemented in your writing life to ensure you get time to write?