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.

Thanking the stars

On Monday night it took me nearly 3 hours just to open the post. Straight away I was able to get rid of 3 piles. 1. straight in the rubbish; 2. straight in the recycle bin; 3. shredded and then into the recycle bin. The shredded pile took the remainder of the 3rd hour and filled 4 shredder bins or 1 dustbin liner.

I was able to dispatch a 4th pile pretty much straight away too, into an envelope and off to someone else, while pile no 5 went straight into the filing folder. That left pile no 6 for “reading later”, and pile no 7 for “dealing with NOW”. That was the urgent stuff I was looking for.

I’ve never had so many piles …

It was quite traumatic, I must admit. But it was nice to get my 2 mailing trays back (in and out) and the now-vanished pile of post was good Feng Shui.

I really, really need to get into the habit of touching the post just once – whether that means shredding or binning or recycling it straight away or, heaven forbid, actually dealing with it immediately.

Of course, the filing pile is now a different story. I’m going to have to do daily 5-minute bursts to try and get that shifted. I’m almost certain I have another pile of filing shoved away in a cupboard somewhere too.

I finally sank into a bath at 10:45pm, but at least it was another job jobbed and it did feel good to have the clear desk and all that rubbish gone.

On Tuesday, when the post came in, I touched it once … and shredded, recycled and binned straight away. That felt good too.

Tuesday was a glorious day and as I’d finished the proofreading job I was scheduled to finish, written and filed the walks report, met an obligation in town, and delivered one of those urgent forms I needed to fill in NOW, I decided I fancied and deserved a nice run to the seaside. Rufus had a great time there, we had fish and chips, a lovely walk along the beach, and we headed home at a reasonable time.

But halfway along the motorway the car cut out and I managed to limp onto the hard shoulder. We waited for over an hour for the AA to come out but he could only do a recovery, and he was close to his driving hours too, so we also had to give him a 45 minute break. He got us home for about 1am.

On Monday I was talking to the Universe; today I’m thanking stars. But I have a lot to be thankful for – for being in the AA, for the motorway being relatively empty, for not losing control of the car, for the dog not escaping across the carriageway, for not being alone, for nothing crashing into us on the hard shoulder, and for getting home safely. It could have been so much worse.

We had to abandon the car outside someone’s house, but my lovely mechanic has been out this morning to collect it, identified the problem, and will look at it as soon as he can. Meanwhile, and if it’s too expensive, I’m grounded again. But we’re all safe.

I couldn’t hand-deliver the job I finished yesterday, so that will be going via the post office later on this afternoon.

Today a new job landed on my desk – I touched it once, put it straight into my work folder and disposed of the packaging. Now I have to decide whether to crack on with that one, and therefore invoice it quickly, or carry on with the plan and write up the first chapter of my non-fiction.

I’m a bit tired, so I’m doing pc and internet admin stuff for now. I’ll see how I feel later on today and decide then.

Friday – the planets … 😉

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A bit of a rut

I’ve been in a bit of a rut. I find that when people owe me money, I get distracted. I get distracted because when everybody does it, basically I have no money, and I really do struggle to function with no money. In May just one client paid me. Another went on holiday for 14 days and forgot to pay me before they went. Others just dragged their feet. This left me in quite dire circumstances for most of May and, as a knock-on, also for June.

It’s not as if I haven’t done the work and don’t have money due. I think it’s downright rude when clients don’t know my personal circumstances. Perhaps they think I do my work as part of a little hobby, seeing as I do it from home, and clearly I don’t need the money or I’d have a proper job. Whatever, it’s just not fair.

Anyway, I’m not going whinge and moan. But I do need to ensure it doesn’t become a regular event. It’s just that when I’m distracted, I don’t work as well; and when I don’t work as well, I seem to lose interest in getting the work in too.

So now I have daily and weekly targets. I’d already upped my weekly wage minimum requirement, but with folk choosing not to pay me that didn’t work very well either. Instead I need to send something out every day – every working day – be it a completed job (edited novel, proof-read book, written book proposal), a short story, an article, a pitch for an article, a filler, a puzzle, a bid for a job.

This week I’ve sent out 2 brand new short stories. I’ve been editing a novel, I’m proofreading a book, and I’ve bid for 14 jobs. I already have a RTE (reader’s true experience) stewing, ready to be sent next week, and a long, nostalgic article doing the same.

I’ve printed off a magazine’s latest guidelines to see what I can come up with plus an anthology’s upcoming projects to see if there’s something I can send to them.

I’ve bought some of the red-top magazines to see what fillers and readers’ letters they’re actively looking for at the moment. And I have an article pitch currently stewing for one of the specials I write for. A special I used to write for has asked me for some ideas, and another special in the same field has also asked me for ideas. I need to get the ideas hat on.

I’m checking the job board every day (just one now, I do actually get enough work from the one, when they pay me, the others don’t seem to be so professionally run) and I’m back doing the daily competitions – well, I live in hope and I have won some very nice nights out that I wouldn’t normally be able to afford.

I’m writing a sample chapter for the non-fiction book as I really really really really need to get the updated proposal off and, hopefully, the contract sorted, and I’m writing the sequel to Night Crawler.

I’m also fielding and prioritising creditors. Fortunately, most of them are reasonable people and, for the past 5 years, I’ve had an impeccable record. It is a juggle, though, and a distraction I could do without.

Not having anything very uplifting to blog about, that’s probably why I’ve been quiet. A collective kick up the bum might be a useful thing just now, and thanks in advance to those who oblige.

This picture is on the June page of my calendar. It was taken on a walk from Locke Park to Worsborough Country Park, Barnsley.

001 06 locke

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

To-do list for April …

I know we’re pretty much into April by now, but as this is my first week “back”, so to speak, I thought I’d start (ish) with April’s to-do list so far. The faint-hearted may sit this one out:

  • 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
  • proof-read new client novel
  • write sample chapter for own non-fiction
  • 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

Wish me luck. 🙂

This is April's picture on the calendars.
This is April’s picture on the calendars.

Tight month

I don’t really have much to report, mostly because I’ve spent vast quantities of the past 7 days in bed. I’ve done hardly any work because I just haven’t had the energy. I didn’t go to the Leeds write-in on Saturday, I’ve not been to any gigs, and I didn’t go to visit my parents – mostly because we don’t want them catching whatever I’ve had.

And I’m hoping it’s the past tense now.

The over-the-counter drugs have been working hard for about 5 days, including night time tablets to help me sleep (not sleeping tablets). But yesterday, when I surfaced the first time, I was so woozy I spent several seconds staring down at the doorstep wondering why the milkman hadn’t been … (he might be good, but he doesn’t deliver on a Sunday, unless snow has been forecast the following day, and then it’s Sunday evening rather than Sunday morning).

So last night I went without the night time drugs … and when I woke up at 10am this morning, I felt as though I’d slept the sleep of the dead. The animals were all shut in the bedroom with me and I have no idea if I’d ignored any of them wanting out, but as they were all fast asleep and snoring … perhaps they have me on when they do manage to wake me and don’t want out at all.

It means, of course, that now February – an already short month – is tighter than ever. I have a good month’s-worth of work in. I just need to plod through it steadily:

  • edit historical novel #1
  • edit historical novel #2
  • proof-read historical non-fiction #1
  • proof-read auto-biography
  • pitch paranormal feature #1
  • weekly walks report
  • finish and submit short story for fave story market
  • finish and submit filler/reader’s letter
  • write and submit RTE (reader’s true experience)
  • arrange interviews for non-fiction #1
  • write press release for Feb book publication
  • write 1,000 words a day …

We didn’t get much snow this time, by the way, despite it being forecast last week and this week. It did snow, but not enough to stick. It’s nice walking the dog when it’s snowing because nobody else does. (Bunch of big girls’ blouses!)

In other news, I am reading quite a lot, World Without End by Ken Follett (and watching it on telly), and I finally finished the polo-necked aran jumper I’ve been knitting for about three years. So that’s something.

However, I’d best get on …

February targets (list alert)

Last week I was very, very busy.

Friday was spent mostly trying to make sense of February – bidding for any extra work I think I may need, agreeing to new jobs from existing clients, planning properly so the workload – and the income – is spread out more evenly, and making sure I make time for my work as well as everybody else’s, although everybody else’s pays the bills (mine will and should eventually).

Saturday I went along to another write-in in Leeds and I wrote over 1,200 words, which included the first draft of a short story and an outline for a new filler.

Sunday was spent weeding out work I don’t want – ie work that doesn’t pay enough or that would take me too long to make it worthwhile – and coming up with a to do list for February …

… and here it is …

Writerly

  1. Allocate 2 hours every day to WRITING
  2. Write walks report for local papers weekly
  3. Write and submit 1 story for fave story market
  4. Write and submit 1 filler or reader’s letter
  5. Write and submit 1 article or RTE (reader’s true experience)
  6. Arrange interviews for non-fiction #1
  7. Revise book proposal for non-fiction #1
  8. Write at least 1,000 words per day across all writing projects 
  9. Attend Leeds write-in at least once a fortnight
  10. Complete 1st draft of 1st story for new anthology

Editing and proof-reading

  1. Surf job boards daily (x 2)
  2. Bid for at least one job per day
  3. Try and win at least one new job per week

Jobs already in

  1. Edit historical fiction #1
  2. Edit historical fiction #2
  3. Proof-read historical non-fiction #1
  4. Draft outline for paranormal article #1

Other

  1. Enter daily competitions daily
  2. Walk dog daily – 30 minutes minimum weekdays; 1 hour minimum weekends
  3. Update gig list weekly 
  4. Update diary weekly 
  5. Raise invoices weekly 
  6. Filing daily 
  7. Shredding daily 
  8. Tidy desk daily
  9. Bake weekly 
  10. Visit parents fortnightly 
  11. Daily yoga workout
  12. 2 high-energy workouts per week
  13. 1 x < 5-mile walk
  14. Ensure I do diddley squat on my monthly Do Diddle Day

The pic at the bottom is February’s photograph in the calendar. It’ll appear again on this month’s Do Diddle Day.

Pugneys, Wakefield
Pugneys, Wakefield