Tag Archives: goal setting

Wasting Time to Make Time

Moonday Madness

A blog about the craft of writing

This is the third in a series of blogs about organization and what keeps me on track. The first post, Goal Setting Survival is HERE and you can learn about Flying Past the Lure of the Toilet HERE.

It’s crazy.

Insane.

But one of the things that keeps me writing, and keeps me organized is not writing.I know, I know, you are wondering how I could possibly get more writing done by not writing?

This is going to be a tough one for most readers and authors to swallow, because ulike goal setting or organizing a clean house, this one seems to be a time sucker. Not a time free-er. But I have found that the more I take care of myself, the better I feel, and the better I feel, the more I can get done and that frees up my time. Doing something that feels like wasting time actually is benenficial.

Here is a list of time wasters that I need to do when writing that, instead of cutting my writing down, infuse it with energy.

1. Take breaks

Taking a break every forty-five minutes to an hour refreshes my muse. I run up and down the stairs doing laundry. I set the time for fifteen minutes and get a snack, a cup of coffee, sneak a bite of chocolate. I dance, do yoga or pull weeds. Anything that is different from the act of looking at the computer and gets me out of the chair. The most important piece of this is to not check emails or tweet or look at the next fascinating blog. The idea is to get away from the computer and refresh.

2. Take time for a nutritious lunch

I cook my lunch. Yes, I do. On those days when I’m lucky enough to be home, writing full time, I have a real honest-to-goodness meal. My favorite meal is whole grain (real whole grain, not that fake stuff the bread companies tell you has whole grain) bread, topped with humus and sauteed onions, garlic and spinach. Brain food.

Yes, it takes time to make it. I do have some time saving secrets: I saute my onions and garlic ahead of time and just add those to the pan with the spinach. That cuts the cooking time down to about five minutes. And I actually take the time to sit down with a cloth napkin and eat it. Okay, it’s frequently in front of the TV or with a book, but it’s away from the computer. And, despite the TV or book I find it something relaxing and rejuvenating.

3. Exercise

This is the one that I think most people think will drain them. Make them tired and hence unable to work efficiently. But I have found that waking up and getting out of the house, taking a bracing walk (not so bracing with summer here) with the dog, has me coming back to the computer rarin’ to go!

I walk every morning, unless the world conspires against me. And I go to the gym twice a week to do the elliptical and lift weights. You’d think I’d be in fantastic shape! I’m sure my heart thanks me and maybe, in a few years, my body will too. Meanwhile the walking is great for my working. The weightlifting and elliptical, well, I do those at night. I come back ravenous and exhausted, so I sleep well and wake up ready for the next day.

This may sound like  preachy post. A list of all the things  you “should” be doing. I want you to know I didn’t just jump up one day and start acting like a fitness guru, eating right and doing yoga in between my writing stints. This has been a hard-won battle forced upon me by exhaustion and my body saying “I give up!”.

You need to find what works for you. But for me, these are the things that I have to make time for to make my writing really work for me. When I slack off, don’t exercise, don’t eat right and try to push things through…those are the times I have writing frustration. I sit in front of the keyboard zoning out, distracted and un focused.

What works for you? Do you take breaks? Schedule time off with your friends? What things do you do that take time away from writing, but send you back to the computer refreshed and rarin’ to go?

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Climbing the Mountain of Goal Setting

Moonday Mania

blogging about the craft of writing

August has been a month of ups and downs with my writing. I started off with a bang. Meeting my goal of writing 2,000 words five days a week, keeping up with blogging three days a week here, and getting Paranormal Freebies up and running. So last Monday I got very excited and decided to climb the highest mountain I could. I set a new goal. 50,000 words during August.

I’d already done 10k. Well, almost. I’d hit close to 8,000 in three days. That meant I could do it, right? 8k in three days, that means I can do almost 3k per day. At 3,000 words per day I should be able to hit 50,000 words by the end of the month. So I said I would. I placed the statement, “I will write 50,000 words by the end of August” on my goal setting loop. And then the week crashed.

Sounds like a fire exploded my laptop, right? Wrong.

Just life. Just the time I had to spend back to school shopping, cleaning my folks house, diving people here and there. And updating websites, going to meetings, letting the (very hot!) window guy in to look at the windows. Life happened and I let it and I certainly didn’t hit my goals more than one day this week.

And there was something else I discovered.

It’s hard!

I can write 1,000 words in an hour with no trouble, so keeping my butt in the chair for two more hours should be easy, right? Wrong again!

It turns out I can write 1,000 no problem. 2,000 with a little thinking. But after that I slow down. Way down. I don’t know what to write next. Its like my brain just stops after 2k. I can, when the muse is helping, make it to 2,500 and even 3,000. But after this week, struggling to make it past 2,500 and hating it, I had an epiphany.

If it makes writing a chore, why am I doing this? Just to hit a number that I stuck out there for myself. It makes no sense.

Now I’m all about setting goals, and setting them high. I read Kristen Lamb’s blog on Self Discipline this week and it really resonated with me. I like staying on a schedule, I like writing every day and keeping my goals out there. But when I set them too high I set myself up for failure.

Kristen says its like exercise and if we go to the gym and kill ourselves one day, odds are we won’t be back. Mountain climbing is like that too. Have you ever decided to climb a mountain that was just too big? You need to start out with a small hill and work your way up to the Fourteeners.

I’ve worked my writing up from my small hill of 500 words per day to a pretty good mountain top of 2,000. Three thousand is just too many for my writing muscles right now. But if I keep up with setting my goals high, but realistically high, then I will eventually get stronger and reach that 3k mark.

So I’m taking it back a notch. I’m going to get on my goal setting loop and admit failure and start over again. My goal is to write at least 2,000 words five days a week and enjoy it! And if the muse is with me, I may hit 2,500 or even 3,000. And that’s okay.

Tell me about how your goals are going this week, writing or otherwise. Does setting your goals high help or hinder you? Does it make you frustrated or did it push you to levels you didn’t think you could reach?

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Goal Setting Survival

Moonday Mania

A writer oriented blog

Today’s blog is the first in a series of four about how organization has saved me. The other three parts will run in August, after Sherrry Isaac’s guest blogging.

The blogging Karma has spoken. The other day found me talking with a friend of mine about stress and how it makes her sick and how she needs to cut it out of her life. We both agreed, modern people (especially women) think we need to do everything, do it well and get it done yesterday. And it’s killing us. Some of us end up obese and some with auto-immune disorders and some with shoe shopping fetishes.

Lo and behold the very next morning my friend Sherry Isaac sends me a link to More Cowbell and Jenny Hansen’s outlook on setting a goal to add “worry free writing time” to her list of to-do’s.

What’s this? A to-do on my writing list of killer goals that makes time for me as a person? Crazy. But obviously the universe is telling me something. All my over-stretched goals don’t help me become more productive, they just make me over-worked. Can goal setting actually help us become healthier? And I’m not talking setting weight-loss goals. I mean actual professional goals. Does your mental health require you to set professional goals that encourage you to nurture yourself?

Setting goals is part of my life. I set yearly goals, monthly goals, weekly goals and daily goals. All in hopes of achieving my dream, publishing my writing. (Okay, earning some cash with said writing.) I love the process of goal setting. Purchasing new notebooks and writing things down thrills my inner organizer. But then the inner organizer runs up against the real me, the Procrastinator. And I get stressed.

There is no way I can do all of this. No way I can keep up with the day to day over-the-top goals I want to achieve. So how do I do it all? How do I become a paranormal writer extraordinaire, an amazing self-promoter and still survive?

Am I trying to become superwoman writer and achieve so much that I actually end up sabotaging myself in the process?

Jenny Hansen”s idea of adding “worry free writing time” to her to-do’s is amazing. It’s still a professional goal but it has the added benefit of not being something you can fail at. There are no word counts in worry free writing. No required three-character-sheets-by- the-end of-the-hour deadlines. No plot constrictions. It’s free. And freeing.

By adding one goal to your to do list that feeds your soul its like adding in time for meditation, exercise, or ice cream. Its something that you can relax and enjoy and get those endorphins flowing. And it is still a professional goal. Still one that you can use to drive your creativity. And one that might even improve your creativity while it lowers your heart rate. Amazing!

I’d love to hear how you free yourself within your goal setting. What kinds of goals can you think of that are within your profession, but not constrictive?

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Filed under channeling success, Goal Setting, Moonday mania, Optimisim, writing organization

The Dreaded Deadline

An amazing thing happened to me when I decided to become a pre-published author instead of an un-published author. Suddenly I had deadlines. Those crazy things that published authors are secretly proud to have, but all moan about, just so us newbies know what we are missing. Those things, they showed up in my life like small children tugging at my skirts. “Feed us.”

They pull and push. They yammer and yowl. Where did they come from? I don’t have an editor, agent or anyone demanding my work be finished on time. Where could these crazy demanding deadlines come from?

They came from me. When I decided to act like I was published my world changed. I became a person with a schedule and I set up goals for myself and along with those goals came the deadlines, wounded crafts in need of attention, tied to my hardworking goals tugboating along. Being the messed up over-achiever that I am, I set up many goals, big goals, demanding goals. So their deadlines were many and big and demanding.

Deadlines are necessary for anyone to achieve at a rapid pace. There is no way I would be here. When I look back six months ago I had no website, no blog, no business cards. No business calling myself an anything, let alone an author. But now I have multiple works in progress, several are “finished”, and I am getting my name out there. People know me. People I have never met and may never meet know me as an author. And I have the deadlines to thank.

If you set goals without deadlines your odds of achieving them shrivel to nothing. There is no reason to complete anything without those whiny children tugging at you, reminding you, needing you. You float out there in the someday realm, waiting for something to happen. Deadlines keep us on track, keep us focused. And when you hit them, you get the added bonus of not only moving further down your chosen path, but you also get the glow of success. You achieved a deadline. You are great! You are fantastic! You are the bomb!

So set those goals, but make sure you invite deadlines to the table, and stick to them. Okay, even if you don’t stick to them they can drive you forward, but if you don’t hit them you don’t get the bonus. You don’t get to do the happy dance and sing and say “I’m the bomb!”

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Brave New Adventures in Awareness

When you sign up for a class in something with a title like Online author awareness, you might not be sure what you are getting. I wasn’t. I hoped I knew what it was. I planned on what it might be. And then the big day arrived and I finally was in class and could see what I was getting into. And I was thrillled.

Last week was my first week of Carolyn Cooper’s class. I was floored.

I’m an information junkie. I love learning. Carolyn loves teaching. It was a perfect fit. Yes, the first lesson was a bit of a shock. I’ve taken several online workshops before, its one of the great benefits to being a member of CRW. But they are all different. Some have one big lesson per week and some homework that the teacher doesn’t give feedback on. Those are the classes where you wish you were getting a little more. Then there are the classes where there is so much homework you can’t keep up. For a moment when lesson one was followed by lesson one part two, I was afraid.

Could I keep up? I, like many in the class, have other responsibilities besides my favorite activities of writing and learning. But as I read on, I realized that Carolyn was a communicator. Yes, it was a long lesson. Yes, I had to slow down and think a little. Yes, there was a lot of information packed in there. But once I followed it through it all began to gel and I began to get excited.

Yippee!

This was it!

I had been for a class to help me understand more about my efforts at marketing my work, and boy am I in the right place. I am learning so much more than I’d hoped for. I thought I’d learn how to manage Twitter better, what’s polite, what helps me and other authors. I think we’ll get to that eventually. This week we learned all about ourselves. What? Don’t you know that already?

Yes and no. I know who I am as a person, but who am I as a paranormal reader. What makes me tick  and what I have in common with fellow paranormal readers are two different subjects. As a person and an author, I have things that I am passionate about. Those are the things that a reader wants to know. And then who am I as a reader? As a reader, how do I look at websites? How do I use them? What am I looking for when I go to an author’s website.

Ashely March, a fellow CRW member and fantastic historical author, spoke to my group on this topic. As an author she wants to be accessible. She wants readers to meet her on the internet and to have a personal experience. When you go to her website you can see that. You can comment on her blog and email her through her contacts. She’ll follow you on twitter and she isn’t spamming when she tweets. Its the real Ashley out there.

Some authors are more removed from their readers. Whether its because they don’t have the time or they are not interested in interpersonal contact, or they just don’t realize it, their websites are cool, removed, impersonal. They sell books, but are they making connections with readers? What kind of author are you? Why? You probably know by now I am pretty friendly. I thought I would hate getting online and doing all this connecting stuff, but it turns out I love it.

I have to set timers so I don’t burn the food and then I shut the timer off and, whoops! I did it again, be right back!

(Whew! Had to stir the steel cut oats!)

Okay, so I love it. I get distracted and if I don’t set a timer I would spend all my time connecting with people. I can’t do that. I need to write and clean the house and exercise and, oh yeah, eat. But my website can help me. My website, by its design, can show who I am. I can be friendly and readers can look at it and see who I am and what my books are about. They can connect to me, Jessica Aspen the person, and I can be off doing what they really want me to do anyway. Write more books.

You’re going to be seeing changes on my website. I’m in the process, but slowly and surely I will be changing my website up to be more reader-centric and less author-centric. The great thing about that is authors are readers too! I’m not sure exactly what this will entail, this is my scary adventure, remember? (Those of you who didn’t read last weeks post can catch up here.) I have committed to this being my summer of change. Actually this whole year has been a year of change.

Since my year starts in the fall, I began this year with Margie Lawson’s Deep Imersion class (WOOHOO-U), where I realized I was serious about being an author. Now, instead of writing in my spare time, I spend my spare time writing. That was an ah-ha moment for me that started me on a different path that has led to here. In September I didn’t have a web site, didn’t have a blog, didn’t even have business cards. I have all that now. And the next step on the path is being facilitated by Carolyn, the shift to online author.

I’m excited to see where this goes, what my website will look like by the end of the summer and the end of my year. When I connect with my WOOHOO-U peeps in September and we talk about what we’ve done during the year I will be able to say that this year I grew into being an author. I now spend my time like one, I have the comittement of one, and my website reveals exactly what kind of an author I am. A paranormal author.

(Keep checking in and I’ll be making those changes!)

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Blog Backlog

Most of you know my goal is to become a published author. Not just published, but a successful author. Might as well aim high. To get there I set goals. And I love setting goals. Every month I review my goals, see what I’ve done and what I haven’t done. But the other thing I do is I try to look ahead. That is a very tough thing for me because I am a procrastinator.

I’ve had some help looking ahead. No, its not my crystal ball. I’ve been able to see authors in my chapter (like Ashley March) and how their experiences went. I also took a fab bootcamp on Riding the Roller Coaster by Angi Morgan.  And now I’m watching my friend Sherry Isaac  get ready for her release date. Wow, is there a tremendous amount of work involved in that.

(Sherry is setting up blog tours right now for July and August, and guess what? I’m excited to announce she will be blogging here in both July and August, so stay tuned for more announcements.)

Both Ashley and Angi were stunned by the amount of work they needed to do when releasing their first book. If you don’t have a website you need to do that. Establish a web presence, learn about self-promotion, get head-shots, business cards. The list goes on and on. Oh and don’t forget edit the book, and they both had to write their second books at the same time.

So I’ve decided to start a backlog of blogs. I may not need to use them. I may have fresh and stunning ideas when my thirty-fifth blog of the week hits. But just in case, I am going to write two blogs a week for the next few months and stash some of them where you can’t see them! Mean, huh. I already have a file of ideas that I have yet to dive into. Its my just-in-case-the-muse-doesn’t-show file. So far, she’s always shown up, so I’m okay. But there will come a day when the fickle bitch doesn’t show up. No, wait, I didn’t mean to call her that! There will come a day when she’s sick, or busy, or just plain too tired and then what am I going to do?

On that day, when I’m not feeling so hot and I’ve committed myself to too many outside activities and the edits are due and the blog is due. On that day I will be ready, because this is one of the many steps I need to take. The step of changing my procrastinating ways and walking on the right side of the muse. And if she doesn’t show up (which I’ve heard she sometimes does) I’ll be ready to walk by myself right over to the blog storage unit and pull out an instant blog. And I’ll be thumbing my nose at the muse as I go.

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AAACK! Nearly Halfway Through the Year and Still Editing!

We don’t usually talk about goals in May, but we should. May is a month when I look at summer approaching and think: “Wow! It’s here again!” And this year I am hitting May and realizing my yearly goals are totally lost. What happened to the first part of 2011? I thought I had more time and yet here I am almost halfway through the year.

Did I slack off? Did I not write? Did I totally ignore what is supposed to be my reason for being? No. I wrote a lot. I just didn’t stick to the plan. What plan? You know, the plan where I said I would finish a second book. Oh yeah, that one.

I look at my yearly goals and first I cringe. I was supposed to have a good chunk of the rough draft done by now! Fifty-thousand words by June. Not there. But what did I do instead? I got sidetracked. Seduced by the opportunity of a quick pitch contest I diverted from my course and now I find myself way off track, but with two finished novellas.

That’s good, but not where I wanted to be. So what is my new plan? Back to the old plan. Re-visit, re-vamp, re-do. Because its only May. And I can still hammer out a rough draft before the end of the year. I can possibly even polish it enough to call it finished. So I’m not giving up. I am still trapped in the edit swamp for my first ms. I can’t seem to get out. But I am determined that this is the last run through. After this, it is time to get serious and submit it. Again.

And those novellas? Well one needs another run through of edits. That swamp is never letting me go! And then it is off to the e-pubs. And the second one. Well that second one is my ace up my sleeve. You see, while I was writing it and keeping it to a measly twenty-five thousand words, I kept thinking there was a bigger book in it. And now that it didn’t make it in the pitch contest, I don’t have to restrict it anymore, I can now expand it into a full length book.

So guess what! I’m now 25,000 words ahead in finishing my book this year. And it is a pretty polished 25,000 words too! So I’m way ahead. I may not hit 50k by June, but I will finish the rough draft this year. And then its back to the editing swamp for me.

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