Hocus Focus

I’m trying to master distractions and reclaim my focus. In order to do so, I’ve been reading books and articles with techniques, tips, and tricks. Right now I’m trying the 18 Minute program from Peter Bregman. The basic idea idea is that you define areas to focus on in your life. Everything you say yes to should fit into and move you ahead in one of those focus areas. Then, day by day you plan your work based in the focus areas and calendar the work to be sure you have enough time to complete your tasks. If an item does not get finished in a day, it moves to the next day. After three days you have a few choices for that item- do it now, put it on a maybe list or forget about it.

I like the process so far. Calendaring my items shows me whether or not I have enough time to complete everything I think I can. It will help me decide what projects to take on because I’ll have a better idea of how much time I actually have.

i also like the process because it’s applicable to any job/life situation. It works for me as a contractor, but I can also see how it would be helpful to someone in an office. It’s really about where to spend your time, how to determine how much time you really have, and what to do with tasks that don’t get done.

Advertisements

30 Day Blog Challenge- Day 4- Right on Time

Your views on religion

I think my answer to this is similar to the drinking and drugs question. I’ve seen religion tear families apart, alienate people, and propagate ignorance. I’ve also seen religion being peace, well-bring, and community to others.

I don’t believe religion is in anyway innately bad, I believe when people do something in the name of a religion or the name of their God that bad things happen. If we could all believe what we want and treat others well, religion would be something that people don’t reject and turn away from. It would simply be a way of living.

Can’t Stand Still

When I get an idea, I have trouble not following through with it right away. I think that’s why I have so many first drafts and not so many completed manuscripts. I love to follow up on new things. When I get an inkling of something, I get a little obsessed with doing it or finding out more.

I wrote last time about pursuing other avenues of writing, just to see what’s out there. I have a few great friends who make their livings as freelance writers and they’ve been nice enough to share (or plan to share) some of the ways they do it. I’m not looking to write fulltime, yet. If (and when) I do it will be because of my fiction writing, I hope. But in the meantime, I’ve been exploring some options for getting a wider audience and doing different types of writing.

This morning I completed my first web content job. It was writing copy for a few sections of a website. The guidelines were intense and it took me awhile to wrap my head around what they really wanted from me. But once I got into it, it was actually pretty fun. I think I’ll keep my day job and even put my fiction writing first, but it’s nice to know there are writing opportunities out there that pay, if you’re looking.

Some other great advice I got was to volunteer to blog for nonprofits. In those cases you can usually use your own name, which means I can add the clips to my portfolio. So I reached out through http://www.volunteermatch.org and made a connection. The editor liked my ideas for the blog, so I’m sending her some rough outlines this weekend. I hope my next post here will direct you to read another post of mine at a beautiful and important website!

My brain feels like it’s dancing with all the writing possibility and opportunities out there. Are you pursuing freelance work? Do you write full-time? How did you get into it?

My Writing Process – Blog Tour

Hey there! I was lucky enough to be invited to participate in a blog tour by friend and fellow YA writer, VB Bernard. We’ve been writing buddies, accountability partners, beta readers and all round writing supports for each other for about a year now. Please check out her author page on facebook: www.facebook.com/vbbernard and check out how she completed her blog tour entry last week.

So here we go with question:
1) What am I working on?

What aren’t I working on is the question. I’m working on revising two contemporary YA novels. One called Takes One to Know One about a girl and boy who are hiding secrets from each other, or at least think they are. The other is Punx Not Dead, about a girl who loses herself when she falls in love with a drummer in a high school punk band and attempts to find the new her in the midst of some heartbreaking news. I’m also drafting a contemporary women’s fiction piece called Debut, about a woman who gets the chance to live her dream life, doing her dream job and realizes that dreams and reality are pretty different. In the meantime she dates not so great guys and tries to break herself from repeating the same mistakes over and over.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I love dialogue and I craft it with as much realism as I can. Some of work reads like a screenplay, because the banter flows so well. I also like to have characters from small towns in out-of-the-way places.

3) Why do I write what I do?

I was a classroom teacher for a long time and I loved watching my students discover new books. Teachers often get into the habit of suggesting old books, or books with outdated characters and that can turn some kids off from reading, so I first set out to write books my students would like and could relate. I also read a ton of contemporary YA, so I write these books for myself, too.

4) How does my writing process work?

I get an idea and the draft it linearly. I don’t write out-of-order or in nonsequential scenes. I write beginning, middle, end. Second drafts are plotted a little more than first, because by then I know where I want the story to go. They’re usually complete rewrites, though. Third drafts and beyond are reordering and reworking scenes to tighten up the multiple story lines and answer any sticky or lingering questions I still have.

I also work with a writing critique group and their feedback through the process is VERY helpful.

Here’s where I’m supposed to link to the next people on the blog tour, but I didn’t actually recruit anyone. So instead, I’ll bid you adieu.

Following My Bliss

So much has changed and so much remains the same.

In August, I left my teaching job. After 10 years of being a classroom teacher, I made a change.

For the last 3 months and some odd weeks I’ve worked for an educational software company. I was hired to write instructional content for the language arts portion of the software.  While the company was still deciding what that would look like, I was asked to consider applying to become the manager of the reading and language arts department. So I did and now I am. Without even doing the job I was technically hired to do, I’m now managing people who are doing that job.

Last week the company had layoffs. The grief I feel for my former coworkers currently outweighs the understanding of why it happened. I do get it, but I don’t get it and I certainly don’t like it. The corporate world is far different than the world of public education. I saw a lot of commonality at first, but now I’m feeling like I’m in a foreign land with no passport. I’m still working, I kept my job, but others didn’t. How do you weigh the sorrow versus the relief.

So I took to my notebook. I had to write it all out and let the ambiguous and contradictory feelings flow on paper. Thank the heavens for writing, clear train of thought or not, the ability to mind dump onto the page is a savior. As I wrote I came to one big realization.  What I’m doing in life is fleeting. I thought I’d teach forever. I thought I’d writing language arts lessons, I think I’ll manage (in more than one way). What I did realize is that if, and probably when, the same fate happens to me, I want to act with grace, dignity, and self-respect. I will be upset, no doubt, but I will hopefully look on it as a blessing.

With that in mind I went back to writing. I finished a story this summer, during the June CampNanoWriMo. I worked on editing it a little and then dropped it. I briefly considered doing CampNano in August, and then school started and then I left for my new job. Feeling a loss, my great friends Candace and Lizzie agreed to start a writing group with me. We decided to Skype one a month after sending each other 5 pages of a draft in order to get feedback and guidance.

I wasn’t ready to share my June piece, so I submitted the first part of my children’s chapter book “Raleigh.” I got great feedback and immediately felt reinspired to work on writing. I began redrafting the back story and beginning, with what I think are pretty good results. In October, Candace introduced us to her friend, Victoria, who was looking for a writing group. So now we’re four writers, with very different styles, but a whole lot of support for each other. Candace dabbles in realistic lit and romantic comedy-ish stuff, Victoria is working on romance and mystery pieces, Lizzie tends toward Supernatural YA and my recent pieces are more realistic YA, though Raleigh is a talking raccoon chapter book.

The four of did Nano this past month together. Every day we sent emails with word counts, musings, or grumblings. We made our writing intentions public to each other and it was a great motivator.

Over the past weekend when I thought about the layoffs and felt sad or cynical, I kept thinking about writing. Even though it’s tough and sometimes feels like work, it’s so endlessly rewarding. A string of thoughts that once only lived inside my brain can now be printed on paper. A plot, a character, an emotional quote that didn’t exist before my fingers set to the keys, are now things, they exist now in the world.

So writing will get me through. I have so much to work on and so much to do.  The events at work just highlighted the urgency that I need to bring to my writing. I must spend my time drafting, revising, editing, plotting, reading, thinking, writing. I want to bring my commitment to writing to the next level: submitting pieces to agents, finishing half done work, believing in myself.

So for public accountability, here’s my quarterly plan:

  • Finishing my Nano draft by Dec 14
  • Editing my Nano draft and sending to my writing group Dec 15
  • Whole month of Dec- Plotwrimo with Punx Not Dead Piece
  • End of Dec- Draft 2 of Raleigh
  • January- Draft 2 of Punx Not Dead
  • January- Revising Nano piece with Plot Wri Mo
  • February- Draft 2 of Nano piece
  • March- Have 3 pieces ready for submitting- Punx Not Dead, Raleigh, and Takes One to Know One
  • March- drafting Rose Quartz