Time and Project Management Class Starts Monday

j0227558Hello my friends! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and New Year’s. I sure did. I’d planned since last Christmas to take two full weeks off and relax. Right up to the last minute, I was sure I wouldn’t “be able to” do it. But in the end, I did!

My workload piled up during the two weeks off, but I feel so much more relaxed and rested and ready for work! How did I manage to take so much vacation time when life has been battering me for the last couple of years? The primary reason is because last January I laid out a written plan for my year.

Granted, a LOT of things went wrong with the plan. I couldn’t have anticipated six months of unemployment for John. I made more money than I did in 2012, but it wasn’t enough to offset the costs of a few book-selling risks I took that didn’t pay off. Near the end of the year, I had to put my writing business on the back burner and work full-time at a temp job.

Calendar 2013But for the whole year, I could look at my writing plan and my calendar and I could figure out how each of my plans would be affected by the new turn life took. I could move the sticky notes on the calendar to change deadlines. I could cancel things that just couldn’t be accomplished now that the course of life had changed.

And I could do it all with more peace than usual because I had a written, changeable plan.

If you’d like to work with me over the next four weeks to get a plan in place for you this year, please sign up for my online class Going the Distance: Goal Setting and Time Management for the Writer. Due to popular demand, this is the fourth year I’ve taught this class, and there’s always something new to learn and share. I hope you’ll join us!

What do you want to accomplish this year?

Gazelle Intensity

I almost can’t believe it, but I met four deadlines last month! I don’t think I’ve ever done that in my writing life. Maybe the only time I’ve accomplished so much in such a short space of time is for school/college. But the point is – I did it.

What I learned from that experience is that I can do more than I think I can. Past experience may tell me that I can’t – until I make an experience that tells me I can. What I have to be careful of is thinking I can always get this much work done. It would be foolish of me to think I can work 10-16 hours a day, six days a week, for an infinite amount of time. For one thing, there is no time for friends or family, little time for exercise or healthy habits, and almost no time for fun.

However, last month I reminded myself that I can work very intensely and accomplish a lot in short bursts. Life is a marathon, and the writing life is a marathon, but sprints are useful and appropriate. (In my half marathon training, I use short sprints in training.)

John and I are participating in Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, a money management course designed to get you out of debt and keep you out forever. In one of the lessons, Dave shows a video of a leopard chasing a gazelle. Even though the leopard can run faster than the gazelle, the gazelle got away! Why? Because the gazelle could make quick leaps out of the leopard’s path faster than he could move to intercept. The gazelle only has to keep this up for a short intense period until the leopard gives up and looks for easier prey.

Dave suggests we use this method to get out of debt. A short, intense burst of effort to pay off everything from credit cards to student loans to the balance on your mortgage. I listen to his radio podcast and people call in saying they’ve just paid off their last debt. Dave asks them how much they paid off and how long it took, then they give their debt free scream. It’s very inspiring! People are getting out of debt to the tune of $20,000 to $158,000 (that I’ve heard) in 12-48 months. John and I will be right in that range, and it’s exciting to know it can be done.

That’s what I learned last month with my writing deadlines. I focused like I have rarely focused before on one project, then another, then another, then another. And I got them all done, on time. I had hoped that on November 2, I would be able to sleep in, read a little, take a deep breath, and go back to a more relaxed lifestyle. But I still have four more time-sensitive projects to finish. At first, that made me feel super tired just thinking about it. Then I remembered the gazelle intensity speech.

I can’t keep up this pace forever, but I can do it for four more weeks. As one friend reminded me on November 2 when I was trying to figure out if I could do all this, I can’t “catch up” on everything that didn’t get done over the last year. But I can pick the most important things to finish now, and re-schedule my other goals for 2013.

National Novel Writing Month is about gazelle intensity. Hundreds of thousands of people around the world are finding it can work for their writing life. But it works in every area of life. What do you really need to get done? Not just urgent things, but important things. Piles of paperwork? Haphazard, overcrowded home? Behind in something you could finish if you just really applied yourself for a few weeks?

Think about it and decide what you’re going to do about it. In the end, you’ll not only have accomplished something wonderful, and maybe done something about those monkeys on your back, but you’ll find pleasure in your own personal growth as self-discipline blooms in your life.

I’m nervous about failure, about exhaustion, about missing out on fun things other people are doing, but last month I proved that it can be done! So I’m going to keep it up for another month. See you at the finish line!

[Note: If you want more encouragement and direction in planning your goals for 2013, join me for my online class Going the Distance: Goal Setting and Time Management for the Writer. Here’s to a fabulous and productive new year!]

Frighteningly Real

Since it’s almost Halloween, John suggested I come up with a themed post. In that vein… 🙂

You may remember, I’ve been writing like mad to make two deadlines this month. I sent in the polished superhero romantic comedy, UNEXPECTED HERO, on October 14 to Harper Voyager. And last Thursday, I sent in the first chapter and synopsis of BELLA AND THE BOUNTY HUNTER to Love Inspired Suspense.

Talk about scary.

Who knew coming up with a romantic suspense would be so difficult?! Not me, obviously. It was easy to see the victim and what happened to her, and I had a fair idea of the ending. For those reasons, I gave it a shot. But figuring out the 200 pages in the middle…Sheesh.

A couple times, I nearly threw in the towel, but then friends would rally and encourage me to at least give it a try. After all, the worst thing that can happen is I’ll get rejected. Well, the worst thing would be to spend weeks and months on it and discover I stink at suspense and I wasted all that time. Actually, the worst thing would be for Love Inspired Suspense to give me a shot and then I find I am incapable of ever writing another suspense novel, and they kick me to the curb.

See? This is the frightening real life pre-Halloween I’ve been living!

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Luckily, two great friends helped me with several plot details. My friend Dave is a deputy sheriff and he let me ask him a thousand questions over lunch. Then I called my friend Janice Cantore, novelist and retired police officer, and she took my stretched out, lumpy balloon knot and created a balloon man walking a balloon dog in a couple of deft twists. Wow. Impressive.

So now I have a month or two (I’ll write the first draft during NaNoWriMo) to see if I can write a story that feels both frighteningly real and believably romantic.

Then I’ll have to decide if I enjoyed it.

It is soooo much easier to write about superheroes! LOL!

Have you written any suspense? How’d it go for you? (If you’re good at it, give a girl some tips!) Or have you written something else that scared the crud out of you?

If you’re participating in NaNo, see you there! (I’m “Kitty Bucholtz”‘ if you want to be friends.) If not, keep writing!

And remember, I’ll be teaching my online class again on goal setting and time management for writers in January. Hope to see you there!

What Should I Work On Next?

This time of year I’m always thinking about what I’m going to work on next. Will I sign up for NaNoWriMo? Will I write something new or edit something I need to finish? If you’re like my friend Betsy, you might be wondering if you should work on a new novel (she’s nearly finished with the latest one) or should she work on a nonfiction book idea she’s had for years?

As soon as she said “nonfiction,” I was all but jumping around in my chair. I self-published my first novel and will self-publish more over the next few months. But I’ve also got a few nonfiction book ideas that I can’t wait to write and self-publish as ebooks. If you didn’t know it already, word on the ‘Net is that you can make more money with nonfiction books right now than with fiction. You can not only sell more copies, you can set a higher price point.

One of the books I want to write is how to properly run your writing business. And from a business standpoint, it would be a good idea for me to intersperse nonfiction books in among the fiction books in my product line. So taking my own advice, I should be thinking long and hard about writing the business book during NaNo.

Yes, it’s National Novel Writing Month. But wasn’t the point to set aside time to do something we never take time to do? Something we want to do and believe we might be good at? Something we think we’d really enjoy?

Betsy hasn’t done NaNo before and she asked me how I make up my mind when deciding which project to work on. I told her about how much fun it is to get inspiring emails from famous authors every week, how much I love competing with my friends when I see they’ve only written a few hundred words more than me, and watching the little graph grow as I write more. The encouragement, and the worldwide energy, those are the reasons I love signing up for NaNo.

So I told Betsy that she should write the book that she needs the most encouragement on. Work on the book that you most need that extra energy to get you through the first draft.

Remember my am-I-or-aren’t-I-going-to-move predicament? If you have something like that in your life, another way to decide which book to work on is to ask yourself which one will be less stressful for you. I don’t know how much I’ll get done in November if I have to move across the ocean. But one way or another, I have to keep doing all the business “stuff” that small business owners have to do. Plus I’m teaching my goal setting and time management class for writers again in January, and I’m adding in information on running your small business. So making notes and writing about what I’m doing and what experts suggest will actually help keep me focused. It will help me to pull several similar strands together so that when I’m working on one thing, I’m actually getting several things done.

If I have enough time, I might just work on both books! I’ll write on my novel in the morning, and the business book in the afternoon. After all, small business owners learn how to multi-task in ways that work for their personalities as well as their businesses. Yup, the more I think about it, the more I’m considering that last option. I guess I’ll decide for sure when I know if I have to make time for packing, too!  🙂

Routine of Rest – Guilty or Not Guilty?

I feel a little guilty even writing this post. We talk about how much rest we need to function most efficiently, but is it a habit we practice? Yes, I take a mid-day break to eat lunch while watching a recorded episode of my favorite TV show. But did I actually rest, or just change activities?

This question came to mind full-strength yesterday when I was on my way home from dropping my mom at the airport and realized that all I wanted to do was go home and lie down on the couch. But I didn’t really rest. I caught up on some taped TV, ate lunch, caught up on the last two weeks’ of newspapers, and then remembered I needed to write a post about writing routines.

I did all of these things from the couch. But I wouldn’t say I truly rested.

Am I guilty of not managing my time well? Yes. Could I be more efficient? Yes. Do I watch too much TV? Guilty, again. But do I routinely really and truly rest? I’m afraid the verdict would be not guilty. And I think I should find a way to change that.

What do you think? When was the last time you felt well rested for even an hour or two?

Author Crush Month: Shanna Swendson

          I read Shanna Swendson for the first time several years ago when Kitty loaned me her copy of Enchanted, Inc. I loved that book! I have bought all the books in the series, usually within a month of their release and read each one at least twice. I’m bummed that it seems there will not be another Enchanted, Inc book, but eagerly await whatever Shanna does publish next. Her stories are fun to read!

          Sometimes, the hardest part about writing is finding the time to write. It seems like everyone who talks about time management says something about how we all have the same twenty-four hours in each day, and it’s all about how we choose to use it. I usually want to hit the people who say this because everyone has different demands on their time, whether it’s a job or family obligations, so the amount of free time varies widely. The real trick is fitting writing time into whatever free time you have available.

          The other people I often want to hit are the ones who talk about how you can use every spare minute to write — how you can write a paragraph when you have a spare five minutes, or you can get up an hour early and write ten pages before you go to work. What I’ve discovered is that every writer is different, and what works for one person won’t always work for another. Some of us take a while to warm up, so we wouldn’t even be through staring blankly at the computer screen in five minutes. And not everyone is a morning writer. If I tried to get up early and write, what came out might not even be in English.

          You have to figure out how you work and then adjust your life to take advantage of that. If you’re the kind of person who can use those spare minutes here and there to write, then do so. If you’re not, use those spare five minutes to accomplish something else that might take up your time later, and then carve out larger blocks of time for writing. Back when I had a “day job,” I picked out a couple of evenings for writing after work, and I did all my errands, cooking and housework on other days so I’d have a bigger block of time on my writing nights. Even now, when writing is my regular job, I try to cluster my errands and outings on “leaving the house” days so that my other days are available for falling into my current project without interruption.

          The best writing time is highly individual. Some people work better in the morning, others in the afternoon and others at night. You’ll learn over time which times of day are more productive for you, and if you can, try to plan your writing time for those times of day. That may even save you time in the long run because you’ll get more done in one hour during a good time for you than in two hours at a non-peak performance time. Of course, if you have obligations you can’t get out of, like a job, you may have little control over what time of day to work — if afternoons are your best time, you’re out of luck — but you can determine which of the times that are available to you are most productive.

          Once you’ve figured out a time and routine that works for you, you have to protect it, whether it’s from yourself or from other people. Treat this appointment the way you would that dentist appointment that would cost you a cancellation fee if you just didn’t show up. You may have to shut out distractions like the Internet (the reason I don’t have WiFi at home). To keep myself honest, I set a goal of time spent writing each day, and I don’t just judge myself by the time I start and stop. I also use a stopwatch to calculate my writing time so I can’t count tea breaks when I get sidetracked between my office and the kitchen as writing time.

          Then there are the demands other people make of you. It often seems like others don’t take your writing seriously. It’s just something you do for fun, or even if they think of it as your work, they may be thinking about jobs they don’t like, where they’re grateful for a call from a friend as a distraction. Some writers go elsewhere to work, like the library or a coffee shop, so that it’s like going to an office and they won’t be disturbed by friends or family. I let my friends and family know my usual writing times, and I’ll post to Facebook when I’m planning a serious marathon outside my usual hours. I have run into a few issues, such as the fact that my peak writing time coincides with the time my friends are on their way home from work and just want to chat while stuck in traffic. I’m an afternoon and night writer, so I’m usually working when my friends are playing. If you run into resistance from people who don’t get the message, you can always call them at work when they’re busy or at two in the morning when you’re done with work for the day and are ready to chat. I’ve never had to go that far. Just snapping, “Working!” when a friend calls and asks what I’m up to tends to send the message.

          I have to admit to feeling like a bit of a hypocrite in giving all this advice because I can be quite the slacker. Even that, though, is part of the way I work. I tend to procrastinate a lot during the first half of a book, probably while my subconscious is still figuring it all out. Then I marathon the rest, writing half a book in a couple of weeks. Now that I know that’s how it tends to go, I go with it and don’t beat myself up. That would be my final bit of advice: don’t turn writing into a punishment or something that makes you feel bad about yourself because that will make you more reluctant to do it.

          Go to her website to learn more about Shanna Swendson and her books.

Gratitude and Goals – and a Free Class

I’ve been so focused on Christmas and making my 2011 writing goals that I totally forgot about my post! LOL! So sorry! Let me share with you a little about what’s been going on in my head lately.

Many of you know that I’m halfway through my master degree in creative writing. This time last year, going back to school was still only a hope and I made my writing goals with the idea that I probably wouldn’t be in school. Unexpectedly over ten days in February/March, my life changed and I was suddenly a full-time student again. These were my initial 2010 goals last December:

* write 115,000 words or two category romance books
* submit two books to agents/editors
* work on my superhero book in school if I went

The only part that I accomplished was the last part. I had also told myself I’d submit more of other things in 2010, and that goal I achieved. I haven’t created a good system yet (or at least, I’m not following through with the system I have!) so I’m not sure how many things I submitted in 2010. I know it was at least four items, which is three or four more than I submitted in 2009. Yay for me!

I could look at – and too often in the past have looked at – what I accomplished in comparison to the previous year as proof that I’m totally undisciplined and not trying hard enough. But I’m determined to be grateful for every bit of my life that I can. Working again on a habit of gratitude this past year has netted results. Though not tangible – I can’t prove to you that I’m more grateful – I can feel it inside. And I can feel how the inside change has changed the outside. School pushed me to find a writing routine that worked, and I think I finally have. For that, I’m immensely grateful!

Because I always knew what my deadlines were every week, and because I’m such a school geek that it would literally make me sick to show up unprepared for class, I made myself get my homework done every week. After eight months of continuous good habits, I told myself that I needed to keep up with it when school was out for the summer (remember I’m in Australia right now). It’s worked! I work on my book every morning Monday through Friday. I planned to take time off at Christmas, so I don’t feel guilty for not writing during vacation. And I’m getting a lot of my not-writing life organized during the next two weeks so that I can jump into writing again on January 4 when John goes back to work. Then I can write flat-out until school starts again in March.

Tuesday night, my writer’s group had our Christmas party and wrote down our 2011 goals. Knowing I’ll be in school again this year, my goals are nonetheless pretty intense. But now I know I can be disciplined and work hard if I set my mind to it. This is what I plan to accomplish in 2011:

  • Finish and submit my superhero book
  • Finish the full first draft of the book I’ll work on in my final university class
  • Finish and submit the category romance that is in first draft
  • Re-work and submit the humorous women’s fiction that had two “we almost bought it” replies from major publishers

I’ll be more than a little shocked if I can tell you in a year that I made all my goals! But this last year has shown me that I can do more than I think I can. I wish I could give you the exact formula for how my choosing to be grateful for what I wrote/accomplished every day helped me to get even more done the next day. It’s a divine mystery. But I thank God that I figured it out enough to keep on being grateful! And keep on writing!

Since over time I’ve become more convinced that goal setting and time management are keys to success in business, including our business of writing, I am teaching an online class on these topics in January. I want to help and encourage as many people as I can so I’ve decided to give the class as a late Christmas gift to one person. Sign up for the class and then come back here and tell me in a comment that you signed up. I’ll draw one person from the group to have their $30 class fee refunded. I’m grateful for all that has happened in 2010, but I’m eager to see what more can be accomplished in 2011!

Another Revision

We generally spend January talking about revision at Routines for Writers. After all the holidays are over, it seems like a good time to take another look at what you wrote during National Novel Writing Month and figure out what to do next. But I’m starting the next stage of revisions on my superhero novel this week. I’ve got twelve weeks until school starts again so I’ve got to buckle down and get this finished. I thought today I’d share some of the floating bits that have been in my head this week while working.

First, I have three other revisions on this book. (It’s a long story, don’t ask.) I know the book I’m going to write revolves around the biological father kidnapping his grandson so he can genetically alter him. So children and things relating to children will be part of the plot, the subplots, and symbols. In the last three revisions, I have several scenes in each book that I think are key to understanding the main character. I got out all three copies and wrote down on a sheet of paper the scenes I wanted to keep. I had to figure out how to distinguish them besides “original book one” or “romance book one” or “murder book one.” (All of them are variations on book one in what I hope to be a series, so book one needs to be right.) Yesterday when I was downloading Scrivener 2.0 (YAY!!) I figured it out.  A copy of my old versions are now Hero 1.1, Hero 1.2, Hero 1.3 and the newest version that I’m working on and will send to agents is Hero 1.4. These are all now in the Hero 1.4 folder.

Second, though I mostly know what’s happening with each character, some of the order of events is fuzzy to me. And not everything will appear on the page, so what happens off the page and on the page isn’t always clear. Remember last year I moved and had all those big sheets of packing paper (like butcher paper)? I got out a few of those and some markers. On the first sheet I drew a line down the middle, and put tick marks at the quarter mark, the half mark, the three-quarters mark and the end. Then I wrote down all the things that would happen in approximately the order I expected them, putting the major turning points at those tick marks.Then I got out another sheet of paper, drew a line down the middle, and starting at the left/top (depending on how you position the paper), I wrote down every single event that would happen to the protagonist in order. I did that again for the antagonist. I’ll do it a few more times for the other major and some secondary characters.

This way I know that I haven’t forgotten anything from A to Z for the major characters. All the things that need to happen to get us to the end are written down. Not all of it will appear on the page. And I don’t know exactly where I’ll break from one character to another. But at least nothing is missing. And I found three areas that ring a little false, areas where I want the plot to go a certain direction but when I wrote it down I wondered if the character would really do that. This might be the most useful way I’ve looked at revisions yet.

Today’s task is to sit down with all of those sheets and integrate them into a new plot outline. Then I’ll create a prototype document that is the cut and paste of all the scenes I’ve already written from the three prior versions that follow this newly revised plot. What I am trying to convince myself to do after that will be more difficult. Following the advice of Donald Maass and Jack Hodgins, I’m going to literally re-type the entire manuscript at that point. The idea is that your creative side will think of slightly better ways to say what it already said. I’ve read that some people who used to write their books on a typewriter believe that they were slightly more creative each time they had to physically retype the chapters. I’ll try to remember to get back to you on this after I’ve done it. If I have the courage to follow through! Who knows? Maybe retyping will become my next best writing routine!

That’s what I’ve been doing and will be doing this week. But I’ve also found some interesting bits on the Internet to share with you. I’ll just make a little list of them here. I hope you find some of it useful.  🙂

Writer’s Digest Prompt – My friend Kathleen sent this to our writer’s group. It’s such a great picture to get ideas from, some of us are entering our opening sentence in their online contest.

Seventh Sanctum – My friend Betsy told me about this. She uses it with her kids when she’s teaching, and also with her own writing. WRITER BEWARE! This site can be addictive for “research”. There are a lot of different kinds of generators here – names, powers, magic, technology, settings, etc.

4 Post-Its to Stick Up Over Your Writing Desk – I think this link came from my RWA friend Laura. When I read this editor saying it’s the conflict between the two biggest needs that brings about the climax in your book, I ran to my big sheets of paper and wrote down the climax in slightly different words. Now I have an emotional issue as well as an action scene. Even though I knew it in my head, I hadn’t actually put it on paper.

Making a Writing Bible – Ever since my screenwriting training, I’ve been a big fan of story bibles. But I haven’t been able to figure out how to make one that is easy to update as well as making things easy to find. I’ve usually ended up with a Word file that is a hundred pages of notes with no easy way to find the one tiny detail I can’t remember – her middle name, her eye color, that nickname from the second grade that I know I mentioned before. This article is great if you’re using Word, Pages, OpenOffice or another major word processing software. But let me point out that my favorite program, Scrivener, apparently can do this, too. I looked on the upgrade notes yesterday. Either it always could or it can now. Either way I need to take the time to do this so I don’t waste more time later looking for all those little factoids I made up.

Nathan Bransford – His blog is still as fabulous as Nathan the Author as it was as Nathan the Agent. I particularly liked this article Five Writing Tips from Reading J.K. Rowling’s HARRY POTTER. The last part is my favorite – have fun with your world.

It’s not just a Point of View – This article by RWA friend Shannon Donnelly posted on the RWA’s Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal chapter’s blog is one of the best I’ve read. In addition to explaining point of view and why you need to know how to control it, Shannon gives us a great exercise we can use to keep our scenes sharp and emotional. I’m going to start using it this week!

Going the Distance: Goal Setting and Time Management for the Writer – I’ll be teaching this 4-week class in January. With three lectures a week, the goal of the class is for everyone to have a plan for the year and know how and when to revise it as the year goes on. Keep watching for updates – I’m trying to work out a free seat in the class for a lucky RFW reader!

Note: Now that I don’t have Master Degree news to share down here for a few months, I thought I’d share my summer reading with you. This week I read Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins in four days. Really good! I’ve had to leave Catching Fire, book two, next to my bed during the day because if I start to read it during lunch, I’m pretty sure I won’t be writing again for the rest of the day!  Interesting note for writers: on the About the Author page at the end of the book, it says, “In HUNGER GAMES, she continues to explore the effects of war and violence on those coming of age.” Do you have variations on a theme you usually write about?

Number Your Days

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about time. How little of it I seem to have. How everything takes longer than I think it should. Wondering what happened to it—where did the time go?!?

My husband, recognizing my unusually stressed-out behavior, downloaded some mp3’s for me of a series of sermons from Andy Stanley of North Point Community Church in Georgia. The title of the series? The Time of Your Life. The point? How to get the most out of your time.

Wow.  These messages were just what I needed to hear. I highly recommend them. They springboard off of a quote from Moses in the Psalms:

So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12

Let me give you some choice paraphrases and quotes to tempt you, in case you, too, are suffering from this time-related stress. The link above will send you to a web page where you can listen or watch the messages for free. The links below will send you to the pages where you can buy the mp3’s (for $1).

Amidst all the writing, the querying, the procrastinating, the editing, the never-ending waiting in this business, it’s good to lift your head from the computer and get that broader view of life–for your time is your life:

  1. Your Days are Numbered “If we live in the light of the fact that our time is limited we’ll make better decisions….There are bookends around our lives.” (Writer’s understand both endings and bookends!)
  2. At Capacity How would your day/week/month look different if you prioritized correctly? “Priority of life determines the capacity of your time.”
  3. Compounding Minutes “There is cumulative value in investing small amounts of time over a long period of time.” (like exercise….and writing your WIP) We know this, but why don’t we do it? Because we don’t see immediate results–or consequences.
  4. When Less is More “Our fully exploited strenghts are of far greater value than our marginally improved weaknesses….a weakness will always be a weakness compared to our strengths”
  5. Under the Sun (this link is to the current *free* download, but soon it will move to the archive in the online store) Many of you will recognize this phrase comes from Ecclesiastes, written by King Solomon. This message wraps up the series, putting our time into perspective—What is life all about?

And for the musically minded, there is a great song out right now called “Blink” by Revive, an Australian band. The opening lyric? “Teach me to number my days..”

“Blink” on You Tube

The First Step to Writing

          Breaks from writing are great, but there comes a moment when it is time to GET BACK TO WORK.

          I’ve past that point. 🙂

          I have written very little other than this blog the past two weeks home from my extended road trip. The first week was understandable. A relative passed away and I had family in my house. There were additional demands on my time, too. Still are, in fact. But it is at least a week past the time when I should have resumed my writing routines.

          The problem? Simple. I don’t have a clear idea of what to write next. I need to take about 30 minutes to evaluate which projects to work on and in what order. Once that is decided, it will be so much easier to sit down for whatever short times I have in my day and write. I’ve demonstrated this year just how much I can accomplish with those little bits of time. I just need a road map.

          Historically, this step is the hardest for me. Not because I can’t do it, but because it is so easy to procrastinate. “Thinking time” feels unproductive to me. I mentally know that a plan, goals and routines make me more productive and that it takes thinking time to develop those plans, goals and routines. Emotionally and intuitively, though, I feel as though that time is useless, unimportant, and unneeded. Because of that, my default reaction (which is how I’ve been operating the past few weeks) is to put off the planning time until there is nothing else pressing to do.

          There is ALWAYS something else to do.

          My goal this week? To (again!) stop procrastinating, carve out at least 20 minutes each weekday, plan my next few weeks (or more) of writing . . . then WRITE! What about you?