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.

30-Day Blog Challenge, Day 30

The end!

Your goals for the next 30 days.

First I’m going to reflect in these last 30 days. I was not happy with the topics in this particular blog challenge, but I think I have a few ideas about how to turn the posts around into actual, interesting, readable material. I’ll let you know more as I hash it out.

But my next thirty day challenge is going to be a fun one. The purpose of this first thirty day challenge was to make blogging more of a habit. The purpose of the next 30 days will be to make exercise more of a habit. I exercise fairly often, but it’s usually one of three go to workouts. As I’m getting older they’re just not cutting it anymore. So to mix things up, I’m going to do 30 different YouTube workouts in 30 days. By the end of the month, I’ll come away with at least a few news routines or ideas on how to get some variety in my exercise plan!

I’ll post the links here and a quick review of each video.

30-Day Blog Challenge, Day 26

If you had $1,000,000 to spend, how would you spend it?

This is probably a pretty boring answer, but I’d probably invest it for a few years and live off the interest. Eventually I’d pay off the house, do some house repairs (scratch that, PAY someone to do the repairs), give money to family, make donations, and write fiction full time while I traveled.

30 Day Blog Challenge- Day 9

If you could have any job in the world, what would it be?

Well, this one is easy. I’d be a writer. I’d make a living with my words, my ideas, my characters, my visions. I’m so fortunate to have found my way toward this path. I’m making small steps toward making this dream come completely true. For now, I still write for other people, but at least I’m writing. Someday, I’ll write my own fiction. Someday I’ll hold my own book in my two hands.

30 Day Blog Challenge- Day 2- 2 Days Late

Where you’d like to be in 10 years?

This is a better question than the first day prompt. I think I was so frustrated by how inane Day 1 was that I almost gave up. But I’ll make it up now.

In 10 years I’d like to have a few books published and be making a comfortable living as a full-time writer. I hope to still be as happy with my relationship as I am today. My dogs will be seniors and we’ll spoil them rotten everyday. My nephew will be 10 1/2 years old, a healthy, smart, happy boy who loves his tia.

I hope to make more time for volunteering and bettering the community. I hope by then I know more of my neighbors.

I guess I don’t really want anything too big or too crazy. I just want to be healthy and happy, surrounded by people and dogs I love and doing things that matter.

30-Day Blog Challenge- Day 1

Rather than spending too much time apologizing for my absence over the last 4+ months, I’m just going to get right into this. I need a kick in the pants to get blogging again. So here goes:

Prompt: Your current relationship status. If single, discuss being single.

Right away this blog challenge irks me. Why should we single out single people? Why can’t married, divorced, dating, asexual people discuss, too?

My relationship status is not something that should concern others.

So there you go! Welcome back to blogging, Amanda.

30dayblogchallenge

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.

The More Things Change…

It’s been a while. Life and all that stuff is my excuse. I’ve been writing and making wonderful progress. Both YA novels are in some form of revision and I’m pretty happy with the direction they both took. I meet with a writing critique group twice a month. They’ve offered invaluable advice and support. I’ve kept up the habit of writing everyday, usually about 1100 words. So writing is good.

Actually, writing is great.

And that’s where my life is changing. I’m beginning to feel a distinct calling to do more writing work. I’ve been reaching out to friends who freelance and getting their advice on building my own writing portfolio and maybe starting a little writing work on the side. Today I took major steps toward that interest. I offered to do some volunteer writing and I answered a posting online looking for blog writers. Nothing may come of either, but in the end I made that small tiptoe toward a calling I feel.

Auld Lang Syne

Here was today’s writing prompt from Writing a Sacred Path’s Review and Renew Course:

Write about your goals, achievements, disappointments, and triumphs over the past year. Allow yourself to grieve the disappointments—but don’t forget to celebrate the successes! Vent, mourn, cheer, and rejoice on the page. Raise a metaphorical glass to the things that went well and tell the things that didn’t go so well. Whatever you do, don’t despair if things didn’t go as planned. This whole course is about starting a new year in 2014!

Here’s what I wrote. None of this is new or a surprise to you, if you’ve read the blog before. I’ve been over most of these events in the past year, but putting it all together makes me realize how much I did accomplish in one year:

In 2013 I redrafted Takes One to Know One twice, first with feedback from my writing group and then after rethinking some of the major plot issues. I revised and edited the last draft and pitched it to agents at the Writers League of Texas Agents and Editors Conference. An agent was interested in Takes One to Know One and asked about other Contemporary YA that I’ve written, so I explained the concept behind Punx Not Dead. She also wanted to see that manuscript. I panicked because I hadn’t picked up that story in over a year. So for the summer I tried writing the new draft using a Beat Sheet. In theory, it seemed like a great idea, but in practice, for me, it was far too stifling. I decided to stop working on the story because I’d lost hope that there was anything I could do to fix it. In August I did CampNanoWrimo with my writing group. I wrote Halls of Righteouness, which is a YA Thriller. I got my 50,000 words done, but that novel is sitting unfinished because by the end of summer I was ready to get back to Punx Not Dead. Around the same time that I realized I needed to get back that writing, a woman I’d met at the agent’s conference emailed me out of the blue to see if I was still interested in joining a critique group. We’ve been meeting every other week since October and it’s been an incredibly valuable experience. I’ve written three short stories, all of which I think have potential to be submitted and published. I’ve also been extremely motivated to finish Punx Not Dead, so I can get both YA novels out the door and into the hands of an agent.

I started 2013 with lofty writing goals and, though I didn’t actually achieve any of them, I feel like I made pretty good progress. I work fulltime, am a member of more than one book club, try to stay active and work out, and have a husband and dogs to care for. Making time for writing was a priority that waxed and waned throughout the year, but during those times when I wasn’t writing, I was very aware of something missing in my life and I always came back to writing.

Now, in December I’m back in a writing upswing. I didn’t do Nanowrimo, exactly this year, what I tried to do was just write a little everyday, to get back into the writing habit. I followed through for about 2 weeks and then fell out of habit. I’m trying to pick it up again, even if it’s just a few hundred words, or even if it’s just a response to the Writing a Sacred Path course, like this. At least I’m writing, and my manuscript will get there when it gets there. I’d been so consumed with working so quickly that I burnt out once. Hopefully I’ll find a comfortable, sustainable rhythm from here on out.