Happy New Year!

We didn’t do too badly. The only things I didn’t manage on the list were: make a yule log; ice the Christmas cake; Santa run to Leicester; trip to that thar London. Everything else we did. I’m very happy with that.

I’ve been having a think of what I’d like from 2014 but, once again, I’ve decided not to do a massive great list for the whole year, but to do just a smaller one each month, as things change. I don’t really feel as though I achieved much, work-wise, in 2013, and this has to change.

So, for January, my main target is to write at least 1,000 words every working day. I know I can do that because I did it in April, 30k in 30 days. At the end of the month that gives me a target of 24,000 words, which means just 24 working days. (There are fewer in February.) I’ll still have my monthly Do Diddle Day.

Other targets for January include (on every working day):

  • write 1,000 words a day
  • surf job boards
  • daily competitions
  • at least 4 hours on paid bread and butter jobs (editing and proofreading)

Weekly:

  • blog (3 times)
  • walks report
  • diary work
  • invoices
  • weekly gig list update

Monthly:

  • monthly gig list update
  • Do Diddle Day

Personally, there are daily, weekly and monthly targets too, such as:

  • walk dog
  • yoga
  • go walking
  • days/trips out
  • loads of gigs

And that’s it. That’s my list for 2014. Sorry for any disappointment, but with work coming in all the time, it’s difficult to plan too far ahead. And when work does come in, I can be booked for several weeks.

Here’s to a very happy, successful, healthy and prosperous new year.

Ooh, tis snowing … (list alert!)

tree
Picture: Ian Wordsworth

And I don’t mean outside, I mean on the blog. I was looking for that function only last week and couldn’t find it, but it looks as though they’ve retained the setting from last year. This is nice as I’m actually starting to feel a bit like Christmas already this year. In recent years it’s taken a little while longer despite it being my favourite time of year.

We put the tree up yesterday. For the first time in years I had help and it looks lovely. We’ve stuck to just red trimmings this time and it goes with the lounge just perfectly. We also baked the cake – with one spare (for testing purposes, of course) – and I had help with that too, in the stirry bit where the mixture gets a bit too heavy. I’ll ice it a bit closer to the time when I’ll also make the Yule log, the mince pies and tarts, and any festive biscuits.

I’ve been doing a lot of catching up with work just lately, hence my absence from the blog. It’s been work away from the pc and keeping off the pc has resulted in me being more productive too. Last Thursday and Friday I started work at 8:30am both days, and both days finished well into the evening.  I also updated the gig list for December and I pitched for 13 jobs.

The other catch-up thing I did was sort out all of my current writing work in progress. I haven’t done any proper writing since my 30k in 30 days in April and I’ve been determined to get back into the swing of that. So last week I kickstarted it all by:

  • pitching a brand new article
  • outlining two brand new short stories, and
  • outlining a brand new filler, all firsts in ages.

Then I armed myself with a book I quite enjoyed reading the first time, The Positively Productive Writer by Simon Whaley, and gave myself a pep-read via the Kindle. This book will be staying by my side throughout 2014 as there’s a month-by-month guide as well.

The next jobs I did last week included:

  • emptying the hard-copy-editing folder (books)
  • turning 3 short stories around and sending them off on their merry way again
  • sending 1 book off to the client, and
  • printing 2 draft 3 articles off for editing and submission.

News just in: The book I sent back to the client on Friday has just this second been paid for. I like that kind of work.

After a busy weekend, with a gig Friday night, a visit to Birmingham on Saturday, a double gig Saturday night, a walk yesterday and all of the weekend Christmas activity,  I started the new week very well with my first Yoga workout in ages. I did a bit of this yesterday when my back started to really hurt again, and it did it the world of good quite quickly. So now I want to do something every morning again, just like I used to.

This week, then (and those of a nervous disposition may want to look away now), here is my to-do list:

9781846948510_The Positively Productive Writer_PB.indd

  • complete electronic edits on 2 books and submit for typesetting
  • complete brand new filler and submit by Wednesday
  • write walks report and submit to 6 local newspapers
  • write 3 blog posts
  • update gig list on Wednesday
  • write and submit 1 commissioned article, and source pictures
  • kickstart Devon Ellington’s 5 Stories in 10 Weeks with a short flash fiction piece
  • edit and submit 2 speculative articles (RTEs – Readers’ True Experiences)
  • write draft 1 of a new short story that’s actually a sequel to a previously successful story
  • surf the job boards daily.

What are your plans this week?

Not a do diddle day today

02 whitby

Today would normally be a do diddle day and this would normally be the picture that accompanied the do diddle day. However, this month’s do diddle day is going to be on Friday, and we’re doing diddley squat together after having 2 quite busy weekends on the trot. But I like this picture so much I thought I’d use it today anyway. It was taken at one of my favourite places, Whitby, and it’s on the current calendar for November.

I don’t think I’m doing a calendar for next year. I don’t have enough new images, although I do have quite a few I didn’t use this year. But by the time the manufacturing costs have been totted up I think they’re too expensive. There are cheaper alternatives, but I need to spend time checking those out before utilising them. So there won’t be a calendar next year.

It doesn’t look as though I’m going to complete NaNoWriMo again. I got too far behind again too soon and the story just wasn’t working for me. I need to start something totally fresh so that I’m excited about it, and I need to put in the planning time.

In April I very successfully completed 30,000 words in 30 days and I earned an extra £325 for my efforts. I think I’m more likely to just give that a go again and be more successful.

December is going to be a very short month with almost a fortnight off over the festive period. But I have to get into the swing of writing something for me for my first work slot of the day, and I also have to discipline myself to get the paid work shifted in time too so that there’s a steady flow of income throughout the month.

Looking ahead (already) 2014 is going to be another good year for me, an exciting year with one or two changes. The last time I knew I was going to have a good year, it turned out to be an excellent year, so I’m optimistic for 2014. This means I’ll be working on my goals and targets over the next few weeks so that I can post them at the start of January.

I can’t believe how quickly this year has flown, and the summary of 2013 will also be slightly more interesting than usual. I’ll work on the review so that it can be posted at the end of December.

I’ve been asked for more lists, so during December I’ll revive those. It seems that quite a few readers are quite inspired by my lists whereas only a few feel a bit daunted by them. So, watch out for more lists and list alerts.

Last weekend was busy with a visitor and a gig on Saturday and a run to Birmingham and another gig on Sunday. This week I have 2 books to shift and I’m waiting for at least another to get started on. I’ve done this week’s walks report, I have the job boards to surf, and I have the gig list for December to upload.

It’s still a short week, though, with a do diddle day on Friday, so I’d best crack on.

How went April?

So how did I do in April?

  • 1 week’s holiday 
  • write 1,000 words every day
  • update price list 
  • author and proof-reader edits on historical fiction #1 
  • weekly walks’ reports for 6 local newspapers
  • daily dog walk
  • edit 145,000-word auto-biography
  • update gig list weekly
  • weekly banking
  • proof-read non-fiction #1 – c/f
  • proof-read new client novel – c/f
  • write sample chapter for own non-fiction – c/f
  • weekly diary work
  • 2 x dental appointments (shudder)
  • GP appointment 
  • hair appointment
  • weekly invoices/book-keeping
  • author and proof-reader edits on historical fiction #2
  • 1 x trip to Birmingham
  • ad-hoc work as it comes in from new contract

Extras

  • final author edits on historical fiction #1 
  • additional trip to Birmingham 
  • quote on 3 invited jobs 
  • take car for new exhaust 

And finally, 30k in 30 days …

30k in 30 days

Historically, although I’ve always been über-busy, even when I was a prolific and constant freelance writer, writing for my own pleasure has always taken a back seat. If I have paid or contracted work to do, that work always gets done first.

For years I’ve been trying to carve out regular time for my own writing pleasure, but always the paid gigs come along and take priority.

These days the “day job” is the editing and proof-reading I do for other people. This pays the bills, it covers the mortgage, it enables me to have a car, and it means we eat – or most of the time at least. I don’t drink or smoke, it’s not a fast car, I don’t even dye my hair any more, and I don’t have package – or any kind of – holidays. I really do work to live and, most of the time, I make ends meet.

I lost the last day job in May 2011, and the first year was spent doing jobs around the house and gradually kick-starting the freelance career again, building up work and contracts. On 6 April 2012, I officially became self-employed again, after a 6-year break, and it’s taken the whole year to get the balance right between working and getting that work in. And in April 2013, I decided it was time to prioritise my pleasure writing again, particularly as some of it will be paid writing eventually.

I set myself a challenge to write 30,000 words over 30 days in April – 30k in 30 days – thinking that, once again, my own writing would get pushed aside to make way for the paid gigs. But do you know, I seem to have done it. There’s still one day left, but a quick look at the word meter in the side bar reveals just how well I’ve done it, considering my previous output had been zero.

So, aside from the word count accomplishment, in April only I’ve also completed eight separate items (short stories, articles, fillers) and with one day to go have written a perfectly respectable 28,922 words.

I’ll definitely do it again in May (1k a Day in May) and may even raise the bar, but we shall see about that. April got particularly busy and I’m still catching up on both lost time and a job taking much, much longer than I thought it would.

Do Diddle Day
As it turned out, and in case you didn’t notice, I did take my Do Diddle Day off last Friday after all. I finished the long job at around midnight on Thursday, and then burned out, quite simply. I didn’t have a diddle in me, let alone anything else. So I took the day off and spent it doing whatever I felt like.

That started with a lie-in until midday. I was shattered and I slept despite next door having a new hot water system fitted. The dog barked a bit, and there were drilling and cutting noises, but I was zonked out.

When I surfaced, I took the dog to Pugney’s Water Park near Wakefield for a good run, but when I got home I thought my car exhaust might be blowing a bit. I dropped the dog off and did some shopping – and treated myself for all of my hard work – but by the time I came home from the supermarket there was no “thought” about it. My exhaust was definitely blowing.

There was nothing I could do about it then, though. So I chilled in front of the telly for the next 5 or 6 hours, pigging chocolate and swilling cider. I needed the time out.

The weekend
I’d promised one of my editors that I’d catch up with a job on Saturday, but I ended up taking my car in to the garage to be looked at. I was supposed to be going out to Leeds on Saturday night, and to Birmingham on Sunday, but I didn’t want to risk it if the exhaust pipe might drop off at any moment.

While they looked at the car, I nipped up to have a chat and a cuppa with the gig buddy, who has a shop nearby, and when I went back, the mechanic confirmed my fears. I need a new exhaust. Or the front and middle sections at least.

This is not good. And it meant I had to cancel my trips to Leeds and to Birmingham.

The car’s going in tomorrow morning and I’m going to take some work to do in the library. Then I’ll collect the car, collect the dog, and head down to Birmingham anyway for the rest of the day. They said if I can get my car in for 8:30am (har har – and there was me thinking I’d given up early mornings), then it will be ready by 12 noon. That still gives me time to have a couple of hours with my mom and dad.

The promised job was worked on on Sunday, with me not going gallivanting about after all, and delivered late last night. I’ve had enough of these late nights for now. They don’t make Diane a very happy bunny; in fact, I get quite grumpy when I don’t get enough sleep.

Looking ahead
My April achievements will be up tomorrow, it being the last day of the month, and my May to-do list will be up on Wednesday, it being the first day of the new month. Some of my April jobs have moved along to May, and that 1k a Day in May will have started too.

So, hopefully, I’ll see you Friday.

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Friday 19 April 2013

I’ve certainly had a full and busy week. I’ve managed my 1,000 words a day, and am slightly ahead of myself now. I’ve ticked everything in my diary, apart from 2 short yoga sessions. I’ve been plodding steadily through a heavy edit. The dog’s had his walks. I’ve had R&R time. And I’ve lost a little weight.

The weather has been very mixed. We’ve had gale force winds, glorious sunshine, heavy showers. I think March (winds) and April (showers) may be catching up now. The bird table has blown over and the kennel has blown off its bricks. But no damage so far (touch wood).

I have no plans for the weekend. I want to try and catch up with some more backlog of work. I might do some shopping. But that’s it. No gigs lined up, no major walks planned. All very boring, in fact. I may do some baking and, if I do the shopping, I may do some batch cooking.

And that’s it. Y’all have a good one! 😉

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Three days a week

I’ll be regularly updating the blog again, but only for 3 days a week, on the 1st day of the month for the month’s to-do list, on the last day of the month for the how-I-did, and on Do Diddle Days to remind folk it’s a Do Diddle Day. Watch out for updates on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and – where they don’t fall on those days – the other 3 days too (1st, last, 26th).

This fits in much better with me not necessarily being on the pc every day when I’m busy. I’ll come on every Monday to do the walks reports and file those, I’m on every Wednesday to update the gig list, and every Friday to do invoices. As everything else can pretty much be done on the phone, and as I have weekends off (in case anyone has forgotten), it’s unlikely I’ll be here outside of those times – unless I’m submitting work by email or typing up, but I won’t necessarily be online whilst typing up.

Posts on the 1st, last and 26th can be scheduled in advance.

So, happy bunnies; job jobbed.

I’m working on a heavy edit at the moment. It’s a 146,000-word auto-biography and I’m probably cutting it down, as I go along, by about 26,000 words. When it comes to wielding an axe, I’m right up there with the best of them. It’s long and hard work, but it’s a really interesting story and I’ve suggested it to already-lovely-boss and already-lovely-boss’s-also-lovely-boss, and they seem keen too.

I’m still a little behind, and catching up on backlog caused by holiday and injury. A nice, easy job would have been good, but this one was next in the queue, so it’s the next one I’m working on. I also had another set of author edits on a previous book for already-lovely-boss’s-other-colleague, and that was so quick to sort out, I did it in between. We’re still having layout issues with that one, but I need to crack on a bit more with this one before allowing myself to be distracted again.

Hopefully I’ll get there soon and everyone will be happy again.

The 30k in 30 days in April challenge is going really well, and the eagle-eyed will see that not only am I on track, but I’m also over half-way. This is such a big thing for me as, usually, my own work takes a back seat. Closer to the end of the challenge I will do an update on this, along with a list of accomplishments (me and my lists … 😉 ).

However, it’s working so well that my own writing is now becoming a priority, even if it is only lots of short works getting completed finally. And because of this I’m looking ahead to May and wondering how to raise the bar. So, here are today’s questions:

  1. Do I just carry on with the 1,000 words a day until I’ve run out of ideas for short works?
  2. Do I switch from short works to longer works (bearing in mind I have a non-fiction book as well as several novels to work on still)?
  3. Do I keep with the 1,000 words a day on short works and add 1,000 words of longer works to it?
  4. Do I switch to 1,000 words a day on longer projects and carry on with short works if I haven’t run out of steam?

What would you do? Suggestions in the usual place – thank you!

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