My Routines

          Routines. Routines for Writers. That’s who we are. That’s what we talk about. All the topics, all the discussions, everything we say comes back to routines. It is fitting, then, this September, our anniversary month, that we focus on routines, specifically those routines that help us succeed.

          Whether it pertains to creating, rewriting, editing or publishing, routines can hinder or help. Since I’m a hands-on learner and it helps me to have examples of how to apply theoretical knowledge, I’m going to share some of my own examples in the hope of helping those of you who are hands-on, too. I suspected, many years ago, that routines might make my life more manageable (theory). I had a lot of trial and error, though, before I found good routines that aided me in accomplishing my goals (practice). I’m still learning. 

          Life never stays the same. That change so often turns good routines into not-so-good routines. Example: When we started this blog, my posts went up on Mondays. I created routines that allowed me to have it finished and posted by Sunday night. When I moved to China, Sunday night became too difficult, but that didn’t matter. China is 12 hours ahead of the USA so even though I finished and posted, this blog on Monday mornings, from most of our readers’ perspectives, it was still Sunday night. Then I moved back to the US. And struggled to get the posts up on time. So we made the change to me posting on Wednesdays and Kitty on Mondays. Now my routines help me post on time (usually).

          Other routines in my life now are related to my school schedule. I am taking seven different classes for the semester. As you might imagine, I get overloaded sometimes. I’ve learned to not panic when those feelings of being overwhelmed descend on me every Tuesday and progressively get worse throughout Thursday. That feeling is deceptive. Yes, if I did not work on my projects and assignments or study for tests, I would certainly become overwhelmed and fail. However, the routines of my life at present usually allow me a few large blocks of study time. I have a work-study job at the college library. I am allowed, even encouraged, to study while I sit at the desk or do other library things. That means I often have a good portion of my four-hour shifts on Thursday and Friday to work on many of my assignments. Even though I often have Saturday completely free, many times I don’t need to use it for studying.

          There is a negative, though. If the library is busy, like it was last week, I don’t get that study time. I have to find other times to study. If I count on those times too much, I can get into trouble. Like last weekend when I had multiple assignments, projects and labs. (I got everything finished, but just barely.)

          I have found that I need to periodically review my routines. Sometimes all that is needed is to put them back into practice. I’m naturally a seat-of-the-pants type person. I tend to flex my routines a lot. Sometimes my problems are not that the routines don’t fit my current circumstances, but that I’m not utilizing them. Routines have to work for you. Or to paraphrase a great man, “Routines were created for you; You were not created for routines.”

          Are your routines helping or hindering? What do you need to do about it?

My Creative Process

          I love my art classes! I think I’ve said that a few times in the past few weeks. It’s still true. I do love my art classes. I’m taking two of them, Drawing and Foundations of Time and Space.

          Time and Space is sort of a sculpture class. Each of the assignments has been to create something with certain materials and various “rules” or criteria. One project was to create a sphere from cardboard, another time we had to create a wearable hat, mask or shoe from items we would normally throw away.

          Each assignment has been challenging. Each time I wondered how I would be able create anything that would satisfy the instructor’s criteria. Each time I succeeded. And each success has brought new encouragement and confidence. No wonder I love my art classes.

          Drawing has had its own challenging moments. Each new drawing assignment has its own goal. We might be learning to make the glass look transparent or the leaves look curled or the ribbon look realistic. And each successful drawing (and the B grade I got at mid-term) has increased my motivation to keep drawing. (So very different from the drawing class I took my first year of college 30+ years ago!)

          In addition to drawing and creating art from found objects, I’m rediscovering my process of creativity. There are some definitive steps and stages I progress through with each project. Sometimes those steps and stages are more obvious than other times, but they are always there.

The initial “I’ll never be able to do this” stage.

          This is when I am sure I will not be able to think of anything that will work. That manifests itself in various ways, but essentially I am certain I will fail. In drawing, it usually is seen in the way I lightly draw, erase, draw, erase until I finally get the beginning “skeleton” drawn. From there I can add, fill in, shape and shade.

          This stage is a little more dramatic (and scary) in my Time and Space class. Part of the process is to sketch ideas and plan what we will do. I don’t plan well. (That’s why my writing is more organic and less structured.) Sometimes I’ve had to just play around with the materials. When we had to make a sphere from cardboard, I cut lots of circles and half-circles and arranged them together in different ways before I discovered what I wanted to do. When I’m familiar with the materials, it is easier. The found object shadow box was almost easy. This first stage is more of a discovery process, although sometimes it is accompanied by a (false) certainty that I won’t be able to do it.

The Excitement stage.

          This is when I have a clear idea of what I want to create and the confidence I can do it. Or, if I’m not completely confident, I at least believe it’s possible. Varying levels of excitement accompany this stage. In drawing, this happens when I step back from my drawing and realize I have the basic shapes drown well and not I just need to add in the details. Or when I realize I’ve hit on a particular way that really works, like shading so that it appears two objects are ovelapping.

The “I’m failing” stage

          This happens partway into the project. It might be near the end or it might be in the middle, but a good portion of the project is finished. I’m certain, though, that the project is terrible and I need to drop it. Or start over. Since these assignments must be turned in, I don’t have the option of quitting. I have to finish the project. In this stage, it gets harder and harder to ignore the voice in my head saying I will fail, I’m not smart enough to finish, there are more important things to do, and a myriad of other thoughts designed to get me to quit. Or start over. A few times I have started over. Was that the right thing to do? Maybe. Maybe not. In the case of one of my drawing assignments, it was the best decision I made. Other times, I was certain I was not going to be able to finish the project, but I kept working at it. Eventually, that led to . . .

The “I did it!” stage

          This is when I look at the completed, or almost completed work and realize I did it! I finished the project and I finished well. I’ve actually surprised myself at times.

          Did I mention that I really love my art classes? 🙂

          What does that have to do with writing, you ask? Everything! The cerative process I go through for my art classes is the same process I go through with my writing. I’m sure re-learning that is going to help me reignite my desire to write and my output. I need to “play with the materials.” I need to find and choose a project and start working. I need to push past the negative thoughts and keep working. Once I start doing that on a regular basis, my writing output is sure to increase. More importantly, my writing excitement is sure to increase.

2011 Revisited

          Kitty and Shonna and I are taking a short break over the holidays to focus on our families. Instead of new blog posts, we’ll be sending you to a few from the past year that we think you will enjoy.

Looking Forward: My 2012 Goals

One of my annual writing routines is to figure out in December or January what I want to work to accomplish in the new year. It takes me a little while to figure it out because I need to make sure I’m not just creating a big To Do list. And historically I’ve set unachievable goals or made no plan for follow through, so I was always disappointed in myself at the end of the year. Then I learned about S.M.A.R.T. goals. My productivity and self-esteem have soared!

I haven’t yet taken the time to figure out the right wording to make these goals Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely – I’ll be working on that in the next couple of weeks. But here are my goals in a general sense for 2012:

Top 5 Goals

  • Self-publish my romantic comedy, Love at the Fluff N Fold
  • Self-publish a second novel, either another romantic comedy in the same series, my superhero book, or a YA I’ve been working on. Depending on which friend I listen to, I have strong support for any of those being the next book. LOL!
  • Self-publish a short nonfiction book on what I’m teaching in my online class next month, Going the Distance: Goal Setting and Time Management for Writers
  • Self-publish a short nonfiction book on the business aspects of growing your writing career
  • Create and stick to a budget for my writing business, and one for my personal life

Secondary 5 Goals

  • Successfully begin and complete a change in direction in my blog topics for 2012 here at Routines for Writers, focusing on self-publishing and how I’m looking for wisdom in my spiritual life (We’ll tell you more about this next month!)
  • Update my author web site in a way that I enjoy and that readers will enjoy
  • Learn about and implement promotional activities for all of my books, including building a quarterly newsletter
  • Focus on and create an efficient office, so it works no matter what country I’m in or how often I move
  • A yet-to-be-determined mystery goal!

I’m still trying to finish a few of my 2011 goals, (see my post about those last week) specifically getting my romantic comedy, Little Miss Lovesick, into print. But I’m trying to balance my work with the fact that I’m home with family and friends for the first time in 2 1/2 years and I want to enjoy them as much as possible in case we move again.

Have you written down your 2012 goals yet? Have you tried to word them in such a way that they are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely? If you’d like a little help with goals and time management, tailoring a system that will work specifically for you, sign up for my online class. It’s $30 and runs January 16 – February 12.

Just for fun, since you probably don’t have any weight loss goals for December – LOL! – give yourself a Christmas cookie or a piece of fudge or pie for every goal you finalize this month. I think five main goals and five secondary goals works wonderfully. And that’s only ten cookies after all. Plenty of time to work them off with January’s health goals! 🙂

A Word?

          Looking back is important in making goals. So is looking forward. In order to keep making progress, you also have to continually evaluate and adjust, using your observations of past, present and future goals and desires to make sure you are headed where you want your life to go. I often get lost in the “forest” of the individual goals and travel in circles. I may accomplish a lot, even check off a lot of goals. Sometimes, though, I realize I haven’t mentally stepped back enough to evaluate if my goals are propelling me in the right direction. I find I’m really at a standstill. Or worse, going backward.

          I read an interesting blog this week that gave me a new perspective of how to maintain that forward momentum. An alternative to resolutions . Choose a word or short phrase that encapsulates that “big picture” view of what I want for my life.

          This was eye-opening for me. I can see it will be a great help in deciding where to spend my time and energy. And, periodically, when I realize that word/phrase is no longer as great a fit, I’ll be reminded to re-evaluate. It may be I’m being distracted by “shiny objects” and the word/phrase is still appropriate or it may be that it’s time to change focus to the next thing. Whatever that may be.

          With just a little thought, I realized that my word for the past several months has been Healing but that I’m entering a new phase in my life-journey. I need a new word. That word is Discovery.

          This article also suggested several ways to explore and/or remind yourself of the word/phrase. Some of them, like making a collage or a sculpture or story out of things that remind me of the word, I will do later. A quick and easy one, though, was to create a Wordle . A wordle is a “picture” that contains words written in various sizes, styles and colors. You write out the list, then choose different variations of layout and color. Here’s my Discovery Wordle.

Wordle: Discovery

          What word or phrase would you choose to define past or future desires, goals, and direction?

Looking Back at 2011’s Writing Goals

It’s that time of year – time to see how we all did on our 2011 writing goals. You know that we take our writing goals fairly seriously here at Routines for Writers. We may or may not accomplish what we set out to do, but we do try to keep track. That helps to hone the following year’s goals so that we’re always closer and closer to creating goals we can accomplish. Very important for self-esteem and momentum.

Last January I taught an online class on goal setting and time management (I’ll teach it again this January) and at the end of the class I posted my goal list along with all the rest of the class. Here are my goals for 2011 along with what I accomplished.

TOP 5 GOALS FOR 2011

Finish Superhero Book
To be blunt – it didn’t happen. I lost my confidence while getting critiqued by my classmates who were more on the literary side. Plus, after the RWA Conference, my goals changed significantly. See below.

Submit Superhero Book
Sort of done. I didn’t submit it officially, but I did pitch it to a couple agents and editors at the RWA Conference this summer. One agent asked me to submit it officially, but the feedback I got from the editors was that they didn’t know how to successfully sell romantic comedies (enough to make it worth their while to buy). So I made a decision not to submit it to the agent and possibly wait for a year or more to find out no editors wanted it – like I’ve done in the past. I made a career change decision. Keep reading.

Write First Draft of Angel Book for Master’s Degree
I thought I’d be able to pound out the first draft of this in my last semester of my master’s degree, but two things happened. One, we found out that John’s job was scheduled to end a few weeks before my final classes, so I had to reschedule everything so that I took nearly twice the load a semester early so I’d finish just in case John didn’t get renewed. That made it difficult to get as much done as I would have if the load had been spread over two semesters. Good thing, though, because John’s contract wasn’t renewed.

Two, I found it difficult to connect with my teacher for my final class where I was to write my book. She and I had completely different ideas about what constituted a contemporary Young Adult novel aimed at the American YA market. I felt like I was fighting her the entire way. By the time I got to the end of the class, I no longer knew what I wanted my story to be about. I’ve got some of the worst writer’s block I’ve ever had on this book. My solution – start over.

Finish Master’s Degree
I DID IT! YAY! There are pros and cons to this of course. The great part is that I did something I really wanted to do. The hard part is that I found myself second-guessing myself and my story ideas most of the time. There were a few times when I really felt encouraged, and I need to keep my mind on those moments. But it’s taken me these last five months to begin to regain my equilibrium. It’ll take me a bit more time to get ahead of the game confidence-wise.

Start My Author Web Site
DONE! YAY! Of course, there is a TON more to do that I haven’t had/taken the time to do. I’ve got a 2-page list of things that need to be done on the site in 2011. But at least I made my goal of starting the site. Next year I can make and meet some of the goals on that 2-page list of mine.

SECONDARY 5 GOALS FOR 2011

Attend RWA Conference in NYC
DONE! YAY! The morning after my last master’s degree class I got on a plane in Sydney and headed for New York. (I loved New York City!) I’d been thinking about the pros and cons of trying digital self-publishing if things didn’t go well at the conference. Doing some research, it looked like something I could do, something I might enjoy doing. So when I didn’t hear anything encouraging about the current market for romantic comedies, I went home with all the information I could gather from workshops on epublishing and self-publishing.

That’s when I altered my goals for the year. My new goal as of July 6th was to get my romantic comedy Little Miss Lovesick digitally self-published by the end of the year. Within a couple weeks, I’d altered the goal to get the book out by the end of September. On September 21, I MADE MY GOAL!

I also wanted to get my book in print before Christmas. I’d made a tentative goal of December 1st, knowing that I may or may not be moving then. Turns out I did move, so now my goal is to get it in print before the end of the year. The more I learn, the more I’m not sure if I can do it. I’ve decided to spend the time needed to do a great job rather than hurry to try to take advantage of the Christmas rush. But I still hope to get it out before Christmas.

Run 2 Half Marathons and the City2Surf Race in Sydney
There is a trio of running events in Sydney that is comprised of the Sydney Morning Herald Marathon and Half Marathon in May, the 14km City2Surf race in August, and the Blackmore’s Running Festival Marathon and Half Marathon in September. We ran the last two in 2010, and we wanted to do the trio in 2011. Unfortunately, I had nearly two semesters’ worth of classes happening at the time of the May race, so there was no way I could train for a half marathon. We ran the City2Surf in August and beat our 2010 times – yay! And John was deep into overtime on Happy Feet 2 by September so there was no way we were going to be able to run that race. Still, we kept running all year. That was a huge win for us!

Visit New Zealand
I didn’t think we’d be able to find time to take a trip between school and work, but work was the key to our trip. John wanted to see Wellington, New Zealand, where Weta Digital is located, to see if it was the kind of place we’d like to live. We only got to see Wellington, not the surrounding countryside or any other towns, but we got to be there for five days! Yay!! It was awesome!

Finish Jessica’s baby blanket (Caroline was born in 2009!)
I’ve been working on this blanket for two years! I still haven’t finished it, but I worked on it. (I tried a new crochet edging that is super cool but incredibly time intensive. Time is something I haven’t had a lot of since mid-2009 when I was halfway done with the blanket.) I have to finish my goal of getting Little Miss Lovesick in print first, then I can work on finishing the blanket. Thankfully, Jessie is happy to get it whenever I finish it.

See More of Australia Before We Move
We didn’t get nearly as much exploring done as we wanted! Very sad. But we had to keep in mind that we were doing other things that were important to us – school and work. Still, we saw a good amount due to our friends. We went to Melbourne for our anniversary in 2010 and we wanted to go back, but we didn’t have time. However, our friends took us on day trips to Hunter Valley (wine country), the Blue Mountains, and pretty drives around the area. I guess the only way to see more is to be on vacation for a while. LOL!

So there are my goals and what I accomplished. Not bad. And here is the reason I believe in both writing down your goals, and looking at them later: you see that you did more than you thought you did. At least, that’s the case with me. I was wondering if I’d accomplished much at all, but I see now I did pretty good, especially considering I was a full-time-plus student for half the year.

If you’ve been thinking that you need to get your goals not only written down, but broken down into workable chunks, take my online class next month. There are no formulas that you have to fit your life into. I’ll give you several ideas on how to proceed and you use what works for your personality and lifestyle. The goal of the class is to come away with a workable plan, and to know how to change it if your circumstances change (as mine did twice in 2011).

How about you? What goals did you accomplish in 2011? Next week I’ll show you a rough draft of my 2012 goals. Think about yours and we’ll compare notes.

A Look Back

          This past week I started a new full-time job at the same time I began fighting a head cold. It’s as though my body reacted to the easing of the emotional stress by falling apart. All these months of financial, emotional and relational uncertainty, I have been healthy. Barely a sniffle. Two days before I start a full-time job, sure to put a serious dent in that uncertainty, I woke up with a sore throat and congested head. While the throat has eased, the congestion is migrating to my chest.

          What all this means is I have spent very little time writing. No RFW blog post, no stories, no letters, nothing. And very little time to get something written and posted before heading off that wonderful full-time, stress-relieving job.

          I seriously considered not writing a post for today, but I don’t like to disappoint people. So instead of just posting an apology, I’m going to link to several other posts I’ve written in the past. I hope you enjoy reading them and I promise I’ll have something original next week. (Unless this chest cold turns to pneumonia. 😉 )

          I hope you enjoy the look back. I know I did. I’d forgotten about the treasure trove in Bits and Pieces. I’ll be visiting those again soon.

          Happy writing!

Low Level Fear Can Undermine Your Progress

We’re back in Los Angeles now, but there is almost nothing about our future that is known. I can deal with that lots of times, but I don’t deal well with stressful situations when I’m not sleeping well. Saturday it seemed like I could only think of the downsides and the negatives in our situation. Half of everything I felt I needed to get my To Do list done is on a ship in Sydney Harbour. John talked me through my fears trying to help me pinpoint the problem so we could find some solutions. Then the next day we went to our old church, Bel Air Presbyterian, and the sermon was about anxiety and getting around it.

Wow.

I am always amazed when God steps in and shakes my shoulder to get my attention. Because we have friends who go to both the 9am and 11am services at church and we haven’t seen them for a couple years, we stayed for both services…so I got a double dose of the message. Probably a good thing.  🙂

So Monday I started my week with some time away with John in Palm Springs. My goal was to spend the week working on the print version of Little Miss Lovesick, getting some writing done on my next book and a short story coming out in an anthology, and resting. I would love to end the week with the feeling that I’d caught up on my sleep! By the end of the day yesterday, I already felt better and had made a dent in my To Do list. Now all I can think about is how to make this letting-go-of-anxiety twist an intentional part of my career in 2012.

Next year is leap year – we have a February 29th in 2012. I’ve been thinking about making it my leap of faith year. How can I put that into concrete terms? What can I intentionally do differently next year? And how will that affect my readership? Am I willing to risk losing some blog readers and potential book readers by not only being myself in an even more transparent way, but focusing on taking faith-based risks in my career? For a whole year?

The thought is both scary and exciting. Which feeling will win?  🙂

If you’re also thinking about next year and what goals you want to make for 2012, you might want to consider joining me in my online class. I’m again leading “Going the Distance: Goal Setting and Time Management for the Writer” for the Orange County Chapter of RWA. You can read about the class and sign up for it on that page. I’d love to work together to make our 2012 goals purposeful and doable.

I’m a member of the Dark Side Down Under blog, Australian and New Zealand writers who write speculative fiction of various kinds. Last week I wrote post titled, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Getting Published about how I started writing romantic comedies and how I ended up self-publishing one. You might find it fun to see how things worked for me. It was fun to get it all down on paper, so I decided to re-post it this Friday on the OCC RWA blog, too.

Well, I’m feeling much better than on Saturday. I’m sure letting go of the fear of the unknown future went a long way toward getting a lot done already this week. I’m learning a lot about my new career path (self-publishing) from Aaron Shepard with his books, Aiming at Amazon, POD for Profit and Perfect Pages. Those books – and some research trips to bookstores – are helping me figure out how to make the best choices in getting Little Miss Lovesick into print. It’s been tough to focus on doing the best job no matter how long it takes rather than making sure the book is available for sale in time for Christmas orders. But maybe if I don’t let fear influence my decisions, I’ll reap greater rewards in the end.

Tiny Goals, Big Progress

          In December here at Routines for Writers the conversation usually turns toward goals. Those of us (not me!) who are good at thinking ahead, realize January, the season of Resolutions is almost here. Thoughts of turning over new leaves, starting over, making progress or just taking stock will soon replace the more immediate thoughts of what to get or give or do that dominate these holidays. And those of us with experience (maybe me) know that thinking about those plans and goals now will help make January a month of progress and success, So, here at Routines for Writers, we talk about goals in January.

          My goals may seem small to most of you, but I’m coming to realize that is what I need right now. Small, doable goals. Goals that matter, even if only to me. Goals that provide their own intrinsic motivation and need no external reason or reward. My goals are what I need now in order to make the life-progress. Career progress can wait.

          The past year has been full of changes and emotions that have left me . . . fragile. Hmmm . . . not quite the right word. Maybe tempered is a better word. Yes, there has been a measure of fragility. More importantly, though, there has been a strengthening that continues to grow. On one level, I’m a mass of fear and insecurity. On another level, though, I’m engulfed in flaming determination shot through with ever-growing glimpses of confidence.

          Even so, writing is still coming hard. I’m writing, but not as much nor as easily as I would like. I feel like I imagine a stroke victim would feel trying to learn to talk or walk again. The tongue or the legs or the hand refuse to do what the mind tells them. The words are there, but can’t be formed. Or the idea is there, but the words to express it can’t be found. My stumbling attempts at stories keep falling far short of what I remember being able to create.

          Obviously, I can still string words together. I’ve been doing it on this blog every Monday for . . . how long? What looks like such a simple post, though, in recent months has come at great effort. Effort I relish; effort I want to expend; effort that is my lifeline, but effort all the same.

          I’ve had to force every bit of writing written. I’ve pushed and pulled, coaxed, conjoled and threatened. Words that used to flow onto the paper (or keyboard) from subconscious to consciousness through pen (or fingers) are fighting to stay undiscovered, hiding and scurrying deep into the recesses of my mind. Tasks, such as writing catch-up emails to long-distance friends and relatives, that used to come so easy and bring such enjoyment, are onerous chores. The simplest “Hi! How are you?” letter takes way more time to compose than it ever did in the past.

          But that’s okay! That’s actually what I need to do. Keep writing. A stroke victim relearns simple everyday tasks by doing those simple movements, like moving hand to mouth or swinging a leg back and forth, hundreds and thousands of times. Those repetitive movements, seemingly so useless in “productivity” are essential to recovering the skills needed for everyday living.

          Like that stroke victim, I will continue in my routine writing tasks. My goals for the coming months may be tiny. Write every day. Write personal letters. Write a letter to an author whose books have helped me astronomically during this season of change. Write a synopsis of my experience and healing journey. Write letters to friends and family, reconnecting the frayed and lost threads of relationships. Journal my feelings every day. Force the words from my mind and, like the stroke victim, relearn and rediscover the ability and the joy of combining words in ways that create pictures and stories and emotion.

          Yes, these may seem like tiny goals. I won’t be writing to be published. Nothing I write will mean much to anyone other than me and the intended recipient. But this is my important next step. This is what is necessary to get me back on the road to writing recovery. These are my goals for the coming months.

          What are your goals?

Summer Writing Routines



Stephanie’s  and Kitty’s blogs this week about figuring out life through writing their thoughts down or talking with friends inspired my blog this week. I was going to write about something else, but at this moment, my summer routines are what I need the most help with. Hopefully by the end of the blog I’ll have my summer plans good to go and you’ll have some summer inspiration as well!

 

Summer vacation is in full swing at my house. When I was a kid, this meant hours of undisturbed time sitting in my favorite rocking chair reading book after book after book (Nancy Drew anyone? Sweet Valley High?). This summer feels a little bit like that, but instead of reading I am writing. In fact, I’m feeling a little bit giddy over how much writing time I suddenly have. (Let this be an encouragement to you moms with young kids—they grow up and become increasingly independent!)

 

The first week of summer break 2011, I wrote all day long. Amazing. And so fun.

 

However, now in week two, I’ve noticed my concentration isn’t as focused as last week. I’m easily distracted. I’m not as productive. Uh oh. Time to lay down my summer routines!

 

Step 1. Summer Goals

 

Production Goal: My most important summer goal is to finish the edits on my current WIP. When I complete that, I can send the WIP off to beta readers. If I finish early, I think my reward will be to delve back into my other WIPs and apply some new tools I’m learning right now. I’ve got new ideas and want to see how they change my outlines. But I don’t want to spend a whole lot of time on the old stuff. Must keep moving forward. So this would be a bonus.

 

Professional Growth Goal: I want to write down the tools that work for me. I’ve got lots of writing books, with lots of great advice. It’s time to pinpoint the tools/techniques that I like and use and write them down so I don’t forget about them. (Hmmm sounds like a blog post.)

 

Step 2. Summer Deadlines

 

Need the calendar for this one. When I finish writing this blog I’ve got to evaluate how much work I’ve got left and set mini-deadlines for each tool/technique I’m using. For example, right now I’m rewriting subplots, which takes me all through the novel, character by character. When I’m done that, I think I’ll take another look at the main character. Then it’s time for line edits with a focus on voice. Oh, and I need another pass looking at setting.

 

Step 3. Summer Routines

 

I learned this week that more time available can quickly turn into more time wasted. What works best for my writing is having blocks of limited time. If I know I only have two hours to write, I can stay focused. Knowing this, I plan to arrange my schedule to put pressure on my writing time. Using swim lessons, playdates, camp schedules, exercise, housework, etc. I can add boundaries to my writing time. Weird maybe, but it works for me.

 

So there’s my plan. Thanks for listening as I hashed it out! If you need to talk through your plan, go ahead, we’ll all listen right back.