w/c 6 Jan: to do list

9781846948510_The Positively Productive Writer_PB.inddI would normally have done the to do list on a Monday, but this week I decided to post the stats of 2013 instead. However, posting the list mid-week does have its advantages – mostly more ticks –  so it might become a feature.

This morning, for the first time in … years (yes, years), I actually felt like a writer again. I’ve not done a lot of writing recently, but I have felt motivated and the ideas are bustling for attention. So I’m seeing this as something positive. I’m also reading The Positively Productive Writer by Simon Whaley, however, and that could have something to do with it. I’d encourage all writers to check out this little gem.

Here, then, is this week’s to do list:

  • complete electronic edits on client’s book 
  • write walks report 
  • post 3 x blog  
  • surf job boards 5 x daily 
  • submit walks report to 6 x local newspapers 
  • 5 x daily banking 
  • source pictures for client’s book 
  • surf 5 x daily competitions 
  • write 1,000 words 5 x daily ×××
  • update gig list 
  • format client’s book for Kindle, etc
  • diary work 
  • raise invoices 

Looking at the list so far it’s clear there’s a daily job I’m still not doing. I need to start carving out the time for this. If I can finish the client’s book by Friday, though, I may be able to catch up there. The electronic edits took longer than I thought they would and yesterday, when I finished doing those, I simply crashed on the settee and burned out.

There are still plenty of ticks on there to keep me going, though.

Onwards and upwards …

What’s on your to do list this week?

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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.

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.

Cricket

cricket 08At the weekend I popped my cricket cherry. I do like to listen to cricket with a commentary, but watching it and trying to work out what is going on … well, it’s not football (soccer) is it? So I tend to watch it on the telly or listen to it on the radio. And yes, I do think it gets quite exciting.

So when a friend offered to be my cricket buddy and my commentary, and to explain the rules, I jumped at a run out to the seaside (as well!) and we chose the best day for weather. I wore a floppy sun hat all day, but still caught the sun on my face, and quite a bit on my arms.

“Our” team didn’t win, but only by one … but it was a nice day anyway. And yes, it did get exciting.

Saturday was all about visiting the parents. I nearly went out Saturday night too, but decided to stay in with Rufus as we were leaving him behind (with a neighbour!) the next day. And Friday was all about socialising and nice music. I’ve certainly been more social just lately.

Today, then, it’s back to work. And while I’d normally do a to-do list for the month on the first of the month, I’ve decided not to this time. My diary is packed full (and has met my new weekly income target) for the next 2 weeks and I want to see what else comes in before completing the rest of the diary. I have plenty of work to do of my own, but I need to hit that income target every week first.

I had to do some admin and speak to the energy company about a new tariff. It’s dinner (lunch) time now, though, and then I’ll be editing the historical novel and writing the steampunk for CampNaNo. I also have the walks report to write and submit (I’ve had 2 lots of figures this week, plus we have a new programme to the end of the year), and the regular daily competitions and job board surf.

Tomorrow I have a meeting in town, but work-wise, it will be more of the same.

Clipped wings

Maybe the Universe couldn’t manage the nice weather I ordered for my research trip. Maybe that’s why my car broke down and I couldn’t go. It’s horrible being grounded, though, and nowhere near any rail stations. I feel as though my wings have been clipped. The weather anyway, for the midsummer weekend and super moon, was atrocious. Blustery showers and grey skies the whole time.

The diary that I ordered on Thursday was here on Friday. That’s quite good going considering they only charged me £1.50 for 3 – 5 days delivery (apx $2.30). Next day delivery would have cost me a lot more, and I got it anyway. Friday evening I had a lovely time acquainting myself with the new diary.

When the post came in on Friday and on Saturday, I touched it once, and shredded or binned it straight away. I had some money-off vouchers come from Tesco, more than £5-worth (apx $7.75), and those went straight into my purse.

When I went through the pile of post last Monday, I had to throw 3 lots of money-off vouchers away – 2 from Tesco and 1 from Boots – because they’d expired, and some only the day before. Those were probably worth about £15 (apx $23), and all for things that I buy anyway. This was one of my motivations for touching it once in future. (Although I did manage to save some coupons, £3-worth for the Co-op – apx $4.60 – and 60p-worth plus extra points for Boots.)

On Saturday I did some baking. I made a Quiche Lorraine and a plum crumble – yes, I’m hard enough to make a plum crumble … Sorry. Ahem … I walked the dog up to the Co-op to get some odds and ends, I took a rucksack so I could carry it home and still have my hands free for the dog. And I took the rest of the day off. I faffed, played games, caught up on old NCIS episodes and generally dossed, and baked.

I’ve started to do a big shop at Tesco just once sometimes twice a month, getting all the tinned, bottled and other heavy stuff, and then filling-in in between on a weekly basis, usually locally. It’s working out quite a bit cheaper, approximately £40 – £45 a month (apx $75), and I’m throwing even less food away.

On Sunday I had an idle lie-in and faffed some more. Then I knuckled down to some more baking (choc chip muffins), housework and then some writing work. I picked up 5 books on Kindle for just over £6 (apx $9.30) to read up on a potential new genre. When I wasn’t reading I was watching telly, but just for an hour. I would have liked to have gone out, but my wings had been clipped … I do miss my car.

When I get the car back I’ve discovered I can get to Leeds for the Saturday afternoon write-ins a bit quicker and a bit cheaper just by going to a different railway station. It’s not in a nice area, so I’d need to look at the car park security, etc. But if it saves me nearly £3 (apx $4.60) and about 20 minutes each way, it might be worth considering. It means the dog won’t be left so long on his own too.

This week, then, I have a new historical novel to edit, the walks report to write and submit, the daily comps to enter, job boards to surf daily, a well-woman clinic to attend, the gig list to upload for July (July already, sheesh!), a do diddle day, a book to write, diary work, invoices to raise, a trip to Birmingham, and – hopefully – a research trip to Derbyshire (weather and car permitting). Then I change to my new diary.

What are your plans for the week?

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A chat with the Universe

Oh my goodness. I know it’s been a while but this whole interface has changed. It definitely wasn’t like this on Friday. I wonder why this happens. And I wonder why they can’t leave anything alone.

Anyway, Saturday was a very busy day in that I didn’t even surface for air. I surrounded myself with my diary, with my dates dictionaries, with my folklore calendar, with article-writing textbooks, with notebooks, the lot. And I sat down and I planned for England.

I had a really productive day and I created a schedule whereby, for example, right now (June) I should be “thinking” December, “querying” November, and “writing” October.

Then I went through the diaries and the almanacs to see what’s happening in those 3 months.

I’ve identified some upcoming anniversaries that interest me and that I hope I may be able to interest a magazine editor or 3 in as well.

I’ve identified some October and November topics I can write some speculative fiction for.

And I identified some imminent annual events locally that I can attend and photograph now, research after, and query in December in time for next year when they come around again.

I also decided on which subjects to initially specialise in and honed my list to incorporate as many anniversaries and events that come under those subjects (traditions & customs and great days out).

Yes, folks, the freelancing hat is back on and I’m hoping to get back into it with a vengeance.

Then I went through all of my outstanding WiP – short stories, RTEs, fillers – to see what can be finished now and submitted, and what can be slotted in for completion to the WiP file.

I also filled the diary and noted when I have some holes in the workload. Some of those holes can be plugged immediately with some work someone has specifically been waiting for but that won’t earn me any dosh just yet, so it was a low priority. However, it should earn me a nice crust at some point and I need to invest some time in that.

For the rest, I did some Cosmic Ordering, and I had a jolly good chat with the Universe about new work and people who owe me money.

Yesterday was a day off as it was Father’s Day and I was down in Birmingham with the dog.

Today I was up and at ’em and raring to go and I started a brand new job that should only take me a couple of days.

I fielded 4 telephone calls – four! I don’t normally get that many in a whole week let alone a day, and a single morning at that. And I received 2 very nice emails. One was informing me that a payment only authorised last week has been released, that should hit my bank account tomorrow. The other was asking if I’d like another editing job …

Remember that jolly good chat with the Universe? Well, case rests, mi’lud.

This evening I have some admin to do. I have this heap big massive pile of post and I know there are at least 2 forms in there I need to complete quite urgently. I keep trying to keep on top of the post pile, but it takes over every single time. I need to learn the touch-it-once principle, I really do.

I have a book to proofread, a book to edit and a book to start writing. I also have a walks report to write and submit plus whatever other writing WiP I can fit in this week. Yup, that’s this week’s to-do list …

This week is nicely full and on Sunday, weather permitting, I’m off for a ride around some of those imminent local annual events armed with my camera and my dog. I’ve ordered nice weather too, so I can take lots of lovely pictures. Let’s hope the Universe continues to be so accommodating.

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May to-do list

Here is my to-do list for May:

  • 2 bank holiday weekends
  • proof-read new client novel
  • write sample chapter for own non-fiction
  • proof-read non-fiction #1
  • write 1,000 words every day (1k a day in May)
  • weekly walks’ reports for 6 local newspapers
  • daily dog walk
  • edit new historical fiction
  • proof-read non-fiction #2
  • update gig list weekly
  • weekly banking
  • weekly diary work
  • hair appointment
  • weekly invoices/book-keeping
  • 2 trips to Birmingham
  • ad-hoc work as it comes in from new contract
  • MOT car
  • surf job boards daily
  • attend 2 gigs
  • 1 Do Diddle Day

Here is May’s picture on the calendars.

Greylag Geese, Cleethorpes
Greylag Geese, Cleethorpes

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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