A Whole New Year

Obligatory New Year’s Post is Obligatory

I’m not making any drastic changes heading into 2022. I think there’s far too much pressure on resolution and sweeping realignments that set people up for failure, especially someone like me that needs an external structure to succeed, but is neglectful in seeking one out. I could use a writing buddy or two heading into the new year. I remember how fast I made friends in online forums at the beginning of the ’00s and now, social media makes it so much harder, at least for me.

No! This is not the lonely writer post!

What I have done is reorganize my goal and tasks around three (four) simple BIG ideas. I have three major goals (three is a magical number – four goals if you count my “Personal” category) and I call those major goals – “BOSS”. Yes, these are my Gohma, Dodongo, and Barinade of my life quests. Every task I put into my calendar has to fit under one of these BOSSes or it’s not really worth my time.

Screenshot of my partial Notion database

I break things down even further, having separate MINIBOSSes for each BOSS. This gives me a way to see what areas within each BOSS I’m putting my time into and if there needs to be adjustments. I do all this in Notion using databases. Originally, I tried to limit my MINIBOSSes to just three per BOSS, but I found that, at least in my “Active Writer” boss, I needed a few more areas, such as “Working on Craft” and “Marketing.” The most important MINIBOSS here is “Finish Current Projects” because that’s where I have the most trouble. I have a separate database for Writing Projects and I try not to add anything to it unless the concept is completely clear to me. Everything else goes in a “idea” file.

This year I want to really lean into the idea of changing my “environment” instead of myself. Instead of acting as if my process, or my thinking, or my existence is a “problem,” I’m focusing on how I can create the space (physical and mental) where I will thrive. Coming up with this organization system has been key in this. I don’t feel the pressure to get everything done every day (my daily list is just things due “today” and “before” – and I’m purposefully not setting tasks with “priorities” because, in my mind, they’re all important.)

As for the writing, here is the plan:

  • I’ll be continuing all of my Vella series (one of them ending in late winter.)
  • Finishing up my first thriller novella, Chatterbox, to give away as a thank you for signing up for my newsletter (so look forward to that!)
  • I need to find a copy editor that I can work with on a regular basis. I’ll start searching in a few weeks. (I’m open to suggestions if you know of a good one.)
  • I’m planning on publishing some flash fiction on here and then compiling them as I go into anthologies
  • I’ve outlined the first two novels in a psychological thriller series to be published by the summer. More info coming soon!
  • The Shape of Us Mysteries first novel, Pedigree, is moving along and I hope to have that ready to go by March, April at the latest.
  • My Woodlawn College romance will get a sequel (Secret Title) to be released in Kindle Unlimited with the novella form of the series, Art History. No timeline on that yet.
  • Hopefully other opportunities that I can’t even see yet.

So that’s where things stand. I have the organization down and some of the systems in place and very optimistic goals. But I feel that now I have a better understanding of who I am and how I work and with that, can better give myself the grace to make adjustments.

May we all find some comfort in the new year and pinpoints of hope to help light the way.

Hey! Listen!


Tapping out of NaNo, but still writing

I started strong, really strong. While I got behind early in Pedigree, I maintained par in my second story and eventually got caught up here. Alas, life had different plans.

I say life, but I was unable to balance my attention between family business and writing. I don’t talk about my writing with family. I don’t want them involved. But my attention and energy went elsewhere and without having good boundaries established, I fell behind.

Basically, every free moment I found, I filled with nothing. They call that “self-care” now. And while my brain probably needed that break, I would have liked to have kept pace with my writing.

I’ve never won NaNo, for various reasons, so I’m not really disappointed. I’m going to write at least 1K a day in each project (it’s now four with my two Vella stories – Wound, and another starting soon (I think I see my problem)) and I will be publishing early next year once book 3 in Pedigree’s series is written.

Thanks for reading this far, and if you’d like to sample my writing, you can read the first three episodes of Wound for free on Kindle Vella. I’d love your feedback.

NaNoWriMo Progress Days 1 & 2

Looks like we can’t get those cute little widgets from nanowrimo.org anymore, so I’ll just make a short post to let you know that, HEY, I am not terribly behind.

As of the beginning of Day 3, I am only 256 words behind on Pedigree: A Shape of Us Mystery. That’s not bad and I’m pretty sure I’ll make that up today, since I’ll be away from home and have some distraction-free time.

Pedigree – 3,078/50,000 – My NaNo Profile

Short, Sweet, Word Count Meet

Completely sidetracked this morning because of breaking news. Understandable.

Yet I was determined to get something in, something down. I knew I had a dream-sequence next and wanted to get the “smell” of the place right. I will probably expand it during revision. I tend to write short, then expand.

No Pomodoro today, as my writing stint was less than the 25-minute focus period, but I still hit my goal, clocking in 532 words. Meeting the goal is the most important part for me these last few days, though, frankly, I am worried that it will start to feel like an obligation.

Perhaps I have to work on how I view that obligation. Not everything I need to do has to be fun. Though, writing is fun, it can also be a struggle. Maybe, instead of obligation I should think of  it as a duty.

In my quest to try new tricks, today, knowing I was just doing a short stint, I used Scrivener’s full screen mode. It is supposed to eliminate the other visual distractions on your screen while you’re writing. Google Docs has the same, as do pretty much all other writing applications. The problem was today that wasn’t necessary.

Since I was describing a dream, I wanted to be as clear about the sensation as possible. So I wrote with my eyes closed. The distraction-free screen was moot.

I may get a chance to add more words later, but since I’ve met my goal, I know I’m still moving forward.

The Longhand Method

Not a method, per se, but an alternative to not being able to be in your prime writing spot. While yesterday, sitting securely in my secluded writing lair, I was able to test out the Pomodoro method with respect to my writing and found it to be a great motivator. Today I didn’t have that luxury.

OK, sure. I have a phone and I could have just used the timer on my phone and done the same thing. But that’s not the point. The point is that I’ve been wanting to try out different methods, tricks, techniques to get the writing done, so I would have no excuse to…get the writing done. So nyah!

Anyway, I have always enjoyed writing longhand. It’s great for brainstorming and actually pretty useful in the first draft phase as well. I find myself wanting to immediately fix typos and other mistakes while I am typing and, if I were to find a keylogger, suddenly my “Backspace” hits would start inching up and up and up. I also don’t feel as if I’m a particularly efficient typist. Plus, my nails are too long today and I can’t stand the feeling of them hitting the keys when I type.

Note: I am particular about pens, unless I am desperate, but don’t let that imply that I have to buy some sort of expensive froo-froo pen. My personal favorite, as of right now, is the Pentel EnerGel. Why am I telling you this? I really like these pens!

But the main reason I wrote roughly 900 words longhand today was opportunity. I had meetings this morning and knew I would not be at my computer for a while, and since my energy drains as the day moves on, I spent a half hour in between meetings to get words on the page. I have just typed those pages up. 899. Boom.

One of the benefits, for me at least, about longhand is the ease with which I move on from a mistake. While, theoretically it’s much faster to hit Backspace than it is to scribble out a misspelled word, psychologically, the scribbling feeds into the frenetic energy of the writing session. I feel as if there is a far thinner barrier between my brain and the pen than my brain and the keyboard. Part of the issue is while writing longhand, I only have to pay attention to one hand. Typing reminds me of piano lessons.

So, a short stint, writing longhand, has been added to my writing toolbox, along side Pomodoro (which I will use again tomorrow) and Scrivener. I plan to pack that sucker full by the end of this book.