Writing Journal 72: Easy Time Management Tips

Writing Journal 72: Easy Time Management Tips

My writing journal for Thursday, October 23, 2014. You can find all the writing journal entries here.

No meetings today, thank goodness. That means that I can focus on catching up with my schedule. Lots to do.

I started with the mystery novel, as usual. It’s still going well. Although I’ve always thought that the expression: “the book wrote itself” was ridiculous, this book seems so easy. Maybe I should write a few mysteries under my own name. If they they all turn out to be this this much fun, it would be amazing. Words: 2,200.

Onward with the two nonfiction books. I send off more material to the designer; this will be the final batch of graphics. Words: 2,600.

Honey’s in a happy mood today. She can’t wait for her breakfast. I feed her, then eat while reading email.

I add most of the messages to which I need to respond at length to the “Today” folder in my email. I tap out brief replies to others, following the “two minute rule”.

Read that article, it’s excellent: if it takes less than two minutes, do it NOW. I tend to stretch two minutes  to ten minutes occasionally. If something takes less time to do right now, and more time to enter into my schedule, and track, I do it immediately, if it’s practical to do it. Sometimes it isn’t, of course: you may be out and about, and all you can do is make a note of the task.

Writers always ask me how to get stuff done faster, and for processes to manage their writing time. Scroll down for some easy time management tips.

Next, it’s time for my walk. We’re heading into the warmer months, so I need to walk earlier. The temperature’s predicted to be 30 degrees today; that’s 86 in Fahrenheit.

Back again. I’ve got some copywriting projects to work on, for holiday sales. I like to create in batches. On one day I’ll plan, develop concepts and make notes for several projects. The next day, I’ll draft them. So I set my timer, and get to work.

Lunch at my computer, while reading social media. The challenge with social media is that it can get away from you. I’ve started to track everything I do, because if you don’t track, you have no idea about what’s useful, and what isn’t. I use a combination of Omnioutliner outlines, and spreadsheets to track.

Next, back to the copywriting projects. I work on them for another couple of timer sessions, then it’s on to blogging.

I’ve received a collection of images from a client. I open Photoshop to tidy them up, and get them ready for scheduling.

The afternoon’s flown by; it’s time to deal with email again, and catch up with phone calls. I do my daily review, and the day’s done.

Now, those time management tips.

Three easy time management tips for writers

We’ve all got the same 24 hours in our day. In the time you have for writing, you need to be as efficient as possible. Here are three easy tips.

1. Write it DOWN!

You’re a writer, so write everything down. At first blush, what seems like a silly aside can trigger powerful ideas for your novel, your Web writing project, or an exciting copywriting concept.

Writers think on paper. It has to be that way, because you can only keep a limited amount of information in your mind at any one time.

If you’re a slow writer, it’s because you’ve failed to acquire the habit of writing EVERYTHING down, and that’s unproductive in two ways:

  • You’re not keeping up with the speed of your thoughts;
  • You’re allowing your logical left brain to take over. Your left brain is not creative; it’s your inner editor, if you like. It complains too much, and hates your creative right brain — your left brain wants to be in control, and is power mad.

I know the left brain/ right brain theory has been debunked, but it’s a good way of thinking about complex brain functions.

The only way to calm your left brain is to write, even if you think you have nothing to say.

2. Use a timer: it forces you to concentrate

A timer sets a time limit. Even if you hate a project (and if you’re writing for others, you will hate some projects) you can stand anything for 25 minutes.

I usually work on somewhere between five and 12 projects concurrently. Without a timer, I’d choose the projects I love, and procrastinate on the rest. With a timer, I know that even if I’d rather be mowing the lawn, I’ve only got 25 minutes, and then it’s on to the next project.

Most importantly of all, a timer forces you to write. You’ll find that as soon as you set your timer, you start writing. Ideally, we wouldn’t need a crutch like a timer. I don’t always use a timer, but I often do, because it’s an efficient way to get stuff written.

3. Trust yourself. You know what you’re doing even when you think you don’t

It’s hard to learn to trust yourself.. Partly this is because your logical left brain wants to KNOW. Its primary aim is your survival, so it watches for threats constantly. If your intuition says “no”, your logical brain wants to argue about it. It doesn’t trust intuition, or creativity.

I know that trusting your creative self is difficult. No one achieves it completely — witness the fact that I’m kvetching about the mystery novel “writing itself”. All I can tell you is that if you trust your intuitions, you’ll be glad you did.

Trust is a huge time-saver. For example, over the years I’ve learned that if I get a “no” feeling about a client or a project, it’s in my interests to say no. Yes, I may miss out on some work. But if I persist anyway, because I want the money or the credit, or whatever, at some stage I’ll bitterly regret it.

Anytime I get a “no!” intuition from my subconscious, I pay attention. As we’ve said, it saves time. Always go with your gut.

Tip: a real intuition isn’t connected to any particular emotion. If you think “no!” and you’re scared, that’s just fear. Real intuition has been called the “still small voice”, because that’s what it is.

Try these three tips. You’ll get more writing done. :-)

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

Writing Journal 24: Website, New WordPress, and Workshops

Writing Journal 24: Website, New WordPress, and Workshops
My writing journal for Friday, September 5, 2014. You can find all the writing journal entries here.

Another oddball morning.

I received a call last night from a client who’s developing a website for a product launch, so I can’t start the day with my current fiction and nonfiction books as I usually do. I had to start work on the website content, because it’s a rush job.

I read all the material he sent me. Then I created lists of interview questions. Julia will call the company to line up some chats for me with their subject matter experts (SMEs.) I hope the chats will be later today, but somehow I doubt it. It’s Friday, and it’s very short notice. Not to worry, I can do some research on my own. I’ll need to look at competing products and the marketplace, so that will keep me going for a while.

I meant to work on the novella last night, because I didn’t get to it yesterday, but I had the coaching call, which took longer than expected. MUST get to fiction today…

Breakfast for Honey, and for me, while reading email. Then answering email, and giving feedback. I’ve got several students’ short stories to read, but I’ll save those until the weekend, when I have more time to think.

WordPress 4: looks great

When I checked my blogs this morning, I noticed that WordPress 4.0 has been released. Excellent… I’ve updated the blogs, but haven’t had a chance to check out the new options yet. TNW has an article reviewing 4.

The updated WordPress editor means less scrolling: excellent. I do most of my writing in WordPress. Well, I use a Markdown editor to write drafts, then I post the HTML into the WordPress editor, but one way or another I spend a lot of time scrolling.

After that, I set a reminder to make sure that I WALK today. I need to get back to daily walks. I spend far too much time sitting. As a reward for that, hummingbird cake at lunch. :-)

More email, and a post about our new “Leap” workshops for the freelance writing blog.

Then it’s off for a walk…

UGH! Rain. And it’s cold. So I weasel out of walking and set a reminder to do some yoga and a session on the rowing machine tonight.

Finishing up the week’s projects

I’ve made a list of projects which are almost ready to be sent to clients, so I devote the rest of the morning to that.

Julia and I head for our weekly lunch. We missed out on it last week, and I can hear a BIG slice of hummingbird cake calling my name…

Back to the office. It’s time to return phone calls, and wrap up the week. I do a quick review of the week’s projects, and adjust our schedules for next week.

No more tech aggravations, I hope

I’ve got to keep an eye on my data usage with the hotspot — I’ve used 1.5 GB in a day and a half; that means I’ve got 2.5 GB left before I need to recharge.

And… YAY! Cable Internet is back. Bless you, Telstra.

The technician suggested I turn the cable modem on occasionally to see whether the cable has been fixed, and it appears it has… a miracle.

However, that was a real lesson to me: keep the hotspot charged. Usually when I go out, I use others’ networks: clients’, the library’s, etc. From now on, I’ll take my little hotspot with me. That will keep the SIM active, so that it doesn’t die. It’ll save unexpected journeys to get another one, and it gives me peace of mind too.

I feel like dancing around the room… Happiness is a good Internet connection. :-)

Research for the client’s new website

As expected, Julia couldn’t get any interviews with SMEs today. Onward to research the client’s competitors, and make notes.

Evernote’s Adonit Jot Script stylus, or Livescribe Sky?

Last night I was making some notes in Notability on my iPad, and trying to get a fine line. Not possible, really. I’ve been eyeing the Adonit Jot Script stylus, but can’t justify it as a business expense. I may treat myself to one for Christmas. It looks amazing, but so does Livescribe’s Sky pen. I’ve got the Livescribe Echo, but the Sky pen pushes notes directly to Evernote.

(Sigh…) OK, when I start researching purchases, I know I’ve lost my focus. Time to finish up for the day.

Daily and weekly reviews are done, and I know what I need to do on the weekend. So that’s it for today.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

Writing Journal 4: Fiction Choices, Pen Names and More

Writing Journal 4: Fiction Choices, Pen Names and More

 

My writing journal entry for August 15, 2014. You can find all the entries here.

Fiction, nonfiction … the end is in sight.

Wrote 1,600 words of my historical romance novella this morning, and the end is in sight. I’ve planned the final scenes too. And I’ve decided not to turn it into a serial, after all.

I’m sure you’re wondering: a serial? This was the client’s proposal.

Last night I had a call from the client who commissioned me to write the five historical romance novellas. He asked whether we could turn the current novella into a serialized novel — a partwork. I’d mentioned that the novella was running a little long, and that I was (almost) turning it into a novel. He said that his publishing company would be interested if I wanted to extend the novella. Could I turn it into a novel, and serialize it? They were prepared to commission a three-episode serial, and still wanted all five novellas.

I asked him to give me time to think about the story, and how I might do that. I read the novella, trying to read it as a reader might. Yes, I could turn it into a novel, and it would work — with effort — as a part-work.

Then this morning I decided against it, for one reason only: it’s almost done. I know myself. I’ve geared up for five novellas. Tinkering with this story would take at least two to three weeks. I’d lose the thread of the other two novellas. And it would cause havoc with deadlines.

I’d need to change the deadlines on other commissioned work, and that isn’t fair to clients. Reworking this story, at this stage, would only frustrate me.

So, as soon as I completed planning the final scenes of the novella, I sent the client an email message. I offered to create a proposal for a NEW serialized novel after all five novellas are complete. I wouldn’t be able to slot in the new project until early next year.

Writing tip: communicate with your clients — it leads to more work. I enjoy talking about writing, as you can tell. However, it’s often a struggle to convince my writing students that they need to communicate with clients. If I hadn’t told the client that the novella was running long, he wouldn’t have offered me the opportunity to do a serial.

Communicate often with your clients. They’re not aware of how you write, or what else you write. You’ll find that clients often have more work for you, if you share thoughts and ideas with them.

Nonfiction: almost done with the book.

I completed another 750 words of the nonfiction book, and there’s only the conclusion left to write. I’ve exported the remaining chapters from Scrivener to Word, and sent them off to the client. I’ll wait for their thoughts, before I do the revision and conclusion.

Next, breakfast for Honey and for me, and then a quick walk.

Email… 

Then the morning’s email. Julia’s compiled the material from the beta testers of the authentic writing program, so I need to look at that. With their insights incorporated, I can get the program finished, and perhaps even offer it next week.

I spend 40 minutes on email. Feedback for students, as well as quotes and responses to clients. I’m booked solid until the end of the year now. Julia’s got some “thank you for thinking of us, we’re fully booked” boilerplate she can send to new enquirers. We chat about this. She knows what I like to write, so if anything comes in that I really want to do, she’ll let me know.

We’ve got the Leap into Copywriting program coming up, and I’ve got a full order book of copywriting and ghostwriting too. This year has just zoomed past.

Writing fiction? Write your Christmas-themed stories NOW

A few months ago I outlined a series of Christmas-themed short stories and a novella that I want to get onto Amazon by the start of December. They’ll be published under a pen name. I’ve got three months to get them done, which is plenty of time, but I need to make a start now. Editing takes time, and so do revisions.

I’m in two minds about promotion for the short stories. I haven’t even created a website for the pen name yet. No time. :-) I’m inclined just to let promoting the name go until next year. I’ve published several long short stories under that pen name, but nothing else, so it’s pointless to promote, because there’s nothing to promote. The Christmas material will help to establish the name, but there’s still nothing to promote. That’s OK. It’s best to think longterm.

Maybe I’ll try the “Liliana Nirvana” strategy that Hugh Howey talked about. Or maybe not. I  haven’t decided. I’ll do more with that pen name next year, once I get all the ghostwriting commissions out of the way.

Next, work on the video script. I do another cluster diagram, which shakes something loose. I zoom through the script, and the slides. After a couple of hours, I leave it for Julia to proof and send off to the client. It’s a rush job, so I should be able to get it all done over the weekend, if I’m lucky.

Lunch, blogging, then project reports and revisions.

Julia and I go out for lunch most Fridays, so we can discuss finishing up projects and upcoming work without too many distractions.

She goes back to work; I decide to spend an hour in the library, so I can draft blog posts for the coming weeks. I manage 1200 words, which is excellent. On my way back, I phone a couple of clients to let them know how their blogs are progressing.

As I mentioned above, if you’re a writer, you need to communicate with clients as much as you can. Not so often that you’re a nuisance, but enough to let them know what’s happening, and to give them input on their projects if they want it.

So, I go over what we’ve been doing this week  with students, and clients. Julia makes some notes for the reports; I catch up on phone calls.

(Yawn.) Afternoon slump. I reward myself for a productive day with some reading, just for entertainment. I always have a couple books on the go at once, so I choose to spend half an hour with Ian Rankin’s Saints of the Shadow Bible. I enjoy British crime fiction. My other current entertainment-read is R. D. Wingfield’s Frost at Christmas.

“Authentic writing” project feedback, and revisions.

I read the feedback that Julia’s compiled from the messages from the beta testers, and make notes for revisions.

It’s 5PM, and I’m done for the day. I do my daily review; good word counts. And that’s it for the work week. (Yes, I write on the weekends. Usually. :-))

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

If You Love Your Business But Hate Paperwork

Evernote everything

If you love your business, but hate paperwork, here’s the solution: Evernote everything.

Christopher Null’s article, How to run your business in Evernote | PCWorld, gets you started using Evernote:

“Finally, we come to Evernote’s marquee feature: Sharing. Everything you create in Evernote is automatically shared with your various installations of the software unless you specify otherwise when creating a notebook. (Note that you can’t change this behavior later.) By default Evernote synchronizes all installations of the software every 30 minutes;  or, you can press F9 to initiate a manual sync.”

By the way, Null’s article was published before the launch of Evernote Business. (I should mention that I have no connection with Evernote, other than being an enthusiastic user of the product…)

Share notebooks with everyone you work with

Shared Notebooks are the big secret of using Evernote to manage your business’s paperwork. Just scan a document, or snap an image of it on your phone, and add it to the appropriate notebook in Evernote. The people with whom you’ve shared the notebook will see, and be able to use the documents. You no longer need to email attachments, or mail them. The material stays in the notebook, so all your documents are easy to find, even years later. Evernote makes your PDFs and images searchable too, using OCR technology.

Start by creating a “tax time” notebook, and share it with your bookkeeper and accountant. Then create shared notebooks for your clients.

You don’t need to share everything. Most of your notebooks will be private, and no one gets to see them; they’re yours.

Add whatever you like to Evernote, whenever you like

Over the years, I’ve lost way too many important documents because backups failed. Everyone always says BACKUP! No one ever tells you that your backups can, and will sooner or later, fail. I keep multiple backups. However, since multiple backups can fail too — I once had three backups fail on me — I need more to be sure that my data is safe.

Therefore, ever since my last hard drive failure, in addition to multiple backups, I also keep everything that’s important to my business in Evernote. I write in Evernote, and create shared notebooks for clients with all my work for them. I archive a notebook once a project is complete.

If you love your business, but hate paperwork, Evernote can help.


Angela Booth is an Australian copywriter, Web writer and content strategist. Want your website to do more for your business? Contact Angela via email to set up a chat. She loves to talk about business and the Web.