I hope you’ve started the year off with a bang and not a whimper. My latest accomplishments: wrote a new weekly schedule with hubs and commissioned someone on Fiverr to create gorgeous slides for my course, “Wake Up Your Prose: Description Unpacked.” I’m really excited about launching the course, and I think you’ll be impressed with the professional design and the fabulous (if I do say so myself) content. And I promise great audio!
In the old beta course I had 60 slides, and in this new premium course I have over 160 slides, plus a lot of new material and expanded supplementary workbooks. If you take the course, I know you will see a marked improvement in your writing as a whole, and in your description skills specifically. You can get on the waiting list here (no obligation to buy). And watch out for launch details coming soon…
Tailor your schedule according to your needs
As far as my new schedule, I noticed that I haven’t been disciplined enough with my day. As a result, I’m not using my time as wisely as possible. Don’t get me wrong: I get A LOT accomplished, because I’m fast. But I need to work smarter, not harder – and certainly not faster.
As usual, hubs had to practically drag me to the couch and sit me down. First I wrote out everything I need to do in a week: freelance editing projects (including looking for more gigs), BulletproofWriting, exercise, emails, household stuff, spiritual stuff, finishing a course I’m taking, lunch, and leisure time.
One of the blogs I read and love suggests doing things in 90-minute time blocks. Since I need a lot of breaks as well (#undiagnosedADHD), my husband built them into my schedule. Basically, my day looks like this: work-break-work-lunch-work-break-work. On average, I’m working 6 hours a day. I’m finished every day by 4:00 pm, which means I have the entire late afternoon and evening to do whatever I want. I work Sunday through Thursday (Sunday is like Monday where I live), so if I’ve been “good,” I have Fridays off.
For some of you, a schedule such as this will work; for others of the non-ADD variety, you will be fine with longer work periods and will need fewer, and shorter, breaks. You might even be able to finish your workday earlier than I.
The bottom line is that it’s worth considering creating some sort of schedule for yourself, based on your personality, your responsibilities, and ability to sit for either long or short periods. Your schedule will evolve and you will need to tweak it, but just having something all prettily typed up and right in front of your face will be both calming and motivating.
Help is on the way
I came across two fantastic spreadsheets you can download for free, from Primoz Bozic, of the blog I love and mentioned above. One is called the Lean Review Dashboard, and in a nutshell it consists of doing a 20-minute assessment of what you want to achieve this year, building 3 milestone levels for each achievement, and doing a 2-minute review every week. It looks like it will be a lot of fun to use. The other is the Writing Tracker, which, unbelievably, tracks your writing. It includes columns such as date, length of writing session, mood, word count, and more. Both spreadsheets look really good, and I can’t wait to fit them into my new schedule!
Books I read
Guess what? I actually stopped reading a book in the middle! How liberating is that?
There’s no law that says we have to finish every book we start; I think it’s a throwback to our childhood, when our parents told us to finish everything on our plate, or made us finish our current knitting project before we could start a new one.
What I didn’t finish
The book I didn’t finish was The Piano Tuner, by Daniel Mason. Basically, it’s about a piano tuner who goes to Burma in 1886 to…wait for it…tune a piano. I was almost halfway through the d— (it means darn, I promise) book, and the protagonist was still in transit.
But it’s really my own fault for even opening the book in the first place, as I have a rule: If, anywhere on the cover, the book is described as “luminous,” run away as fast as you can.
What I did finish
The biggest winner I read since my last post was Charms for the Easy Life, by Kaye Gibbons. What a brilliant writer! It wasn’t a comedy, but I found myself intermittently laughing out loud to the point where I couldn’t breathe for a few seconds. Gibbons is so incredibly real. I’m almost positive I read and loved a couple of her other books about 20 years ago, and I’m definitely planning to get ahold of them at the used bookstore; they’ll be worth (re)reading.
The rest of my reading list these past 2 weeks has been pretty much a balance between good and good trash. The interesting thing is that I read 2 books by authors I love, but didn’t like the books. One was Welcome to Hard Times, by E. L. Doctorow (“good”) and the other was Surprise Me, by Sophie Kinsella (“good trash”). I found Welcome to Hard Times too cruel for my taste – I don’t deny that I’m in denial about how horrible the Wild West was; and I thought the plot of Surprise Me was kind of stupid. So many of these “lite” books revolve around a misunderstanding which threatens to destroy a relationship, but disaster is averted at the last minute and harmony reigns again. It’s a pity these authors can’t come up with a different conflict and denouement.
I also read The Snow Gypsy, a soon-to-be-released novel by Lindsay Jane Ashford. It wasn’t bad. The background of the book is the Spanish Civil War and its effects on those who lived through it. I’m fascinated by the Spanish Civil War, and now I’m eager to read more about it.
A book I read constantly
I was lucky enough to receive the latest edition of The Chicago Manual of Style as a gift (the result of an Amazon screw-up); it’s an editor’s most valuable resource. I’m enjoying having a hard copy version of it on my desk, and refer to it frequently. Their online edition is terrific, and is often but not always a time-saver. You can get a 30-day trial subscription to the online version here. The yearly subscription is $39. I believe that all writers should have this publishing bible close at hand.
Please let me know how setting your schedule went, and if you like to work in long or short blocks of time. Make sure you carve out a generous session for your daily writing!
Hey, it’s time for my break. I’d better get off the computer; hubs just got his whip out (not). Until next time,
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