Writing Journal 37: Bullet Journaling

Writing Journal 37: Bullet Journaling

My writing journal for Thursday, September 18, 2014. You can find all the writing journal entries here.

No fiction this morning, because I need to get the client’s rush copywriting job done by tomorrow. (The one to promote the inventory of new products.) I worked on the nonfiction book edits late last night , because I need to get those done by tomorrow too. Therefore, I spent the first three hours of my day focusing on those two projects. This week has zoomed by so quickly.

Oooh… the embarrassment…

Last night, while rearranging my schedule for the next couple of weeks, I discovered that I’d allowed a small copywriting project to slip through the cracks. Highly embarrassing, and guilt-inducing, because this client has been with me for years.

How could this happen? I use OmniFocus, Things, Evernote, and my handwritten journals. After I stopped slapping myself upside the head, I decided to implement a bullet journaling process. Not only because of the missed project, but also because I forget to add ideas, insights and inspirations from my daily handwritten journal to OmniFocus et al — I tell myself I’ll do it “later”, and later never arrives.

More on bullet journaling later today.

Breakfast for Honey, and breakfast for me, while I scan the day’s email. I deal with the responses which will take just a few minutes. (The two minute rule makes sense.) I leave the rest for Julia to schedule.

Then I deal with the missed copywriting project; I make a good start on it, and will have it done by close of business today. Before I start, I call the client and leave a sincere apology on his machine. I feel horrible over this. It should never have happened.

Next, a super-quick walk.

Copywriting marketing materials, and blogging

I need to get this rush job with the product inventory done tomorrow, so I spend the rest of the morning on that.

Phone calls, and lunch at my computer, while scanning social media, and checking over my draft blog posts.

Next, blogging for clients

I love blogging, but it’s relentless. No matter what else is happening, you need to keep up with your blog posts. I complete four posts, and create drafts for several more. I also add content for other posts which will be published this week. I schedule three posts.

Then it’s back to the copywriting project I missed. I leave it for Julia to proof and send to the client. I draft a quick note from me, apologizing again. Thank heavens that’s done.

Bullet journaling: write, see, remember

As I said yesterday, I keep several handwritten journals, because they help my productivity, by keeping me focused on the tasks at hand.

Journaling averts inertia. Inertia is always a big danger for writers. You’re battling inertia every time you begin a project. You battle it during projects too… You daydream and muse, instead of writing. Yes, thinking is important. However, general “thinking” tends to drift off into floating clouds of fantasy, and before you know it, you’re mulling over your next vacation, or wondering what happened to your red-headed best friend from second grade.

It’s no wonder that writers procrastinate. I used to be the queen of procrastination, and it’s an on-going battle to keep it under control. Journaling helps.

I investigated bullet journaling a few months back. A couple of writers I trust are keen on it. However, I didn’t see the need at the time. Now I do, because there’s a big problem with digital scheduling. Yes, it’s effective. However, it’s also possible to back-burner tasks endlessly, and there’s no real day by day archive of what you’ve done, and why you did it.

I’m not calling out any product, but have you seen the archive in OmniFocus, for example? Totally useless. Everything’s jumbled in together. I should say that I’ve used OmniFocus for years — even before it was OmniFocus, and will continue to use it. OmnifFocus started out as Ethan Schoonover’s Kinkless GTD — which was amazing for its time.

So, I decided to implement my own bullet journal. It’s easy to set up in just a few minutes — watch the video here, and you’ve got the gist. Once I’d set it up — in the Leuchtturm1917/ Whitelines medium hardcover notebook I received the other day — I immediately entered the starred items from my handwritten journal. I star items I want to transfer elsewhere, but I rarely get around to doing it.

Of course, it’s MUCH too early to judge how my new system will turn out. I do feel more in control, however. And in the course of setting up the Leuchtturm1917, I remembered several tasks I’d forgotten to enter anywhere else. Yes, writing by hand is slower, but it helps your memory. I’ve created a couple of Collections too, and have added them to the index so that I can find them again.

Fiction, at the wrong time of the day

I returned some phone calls, then opened Scrivener to get back to the novella. I thought that I’d just write a few hundred words, so I wouldn’t lose the thread of the project, but I managed just over 1,000 words, which is excellent, considering how distracted I’ve been.

Finally, my daily review — of my bullet journal and others :-) — and the day’s done. I’ll spend some time on the company history tonight, and the ebook I’m writing for a client. You end up having to scramble to catch up when things slip through the cracks. :-)

, and on Twitter: @angee.

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

Presentation Apps: 5 Haiku Deck Tips

Presentation Apps: 5 Haiku Deck Tips

While there are many presentation apps, there are none which are as useful as Haiku Deck. Not only can you use this app for personal presentations, you can publish them on the Haiku Deck website, and share your decks with the world.

What’s Haiku Deck? Martin Smith nails it:

Haiku Deck is a magical visual merchandising tool… Haiku Deck combines visual marketing, tactics and strategy into an easy to use online marketing tool.

If you normally create presentations with PowerPoint or Keynote, you’ll be thrilled at how FAST you create them with Haiku Deck. Here’s why:

  • Instant images. You don’t need to buy images, or search for free images with CC licenses, or resize and otherwise mess with images. Consider how many more presentations you could create – and will enjoy creating – if you don’t have to spend time collecting images;
  • Instant formatting. Haiku Deck uses themes, so there’s no formatting. That said, you can easily start your next PP presentation in Haiku Deck by collecting the images you need there, then export your deck to PowerPoint.

PowerPoint

My Authentic Writing deck exported from Haiku Deck to PowerPoint.

Our first three tips cover presentations in general. The final two tips increase your creativity and productivity when you use Haiku Deck.

1. BELIEVE: Be Passionate

If you dislike presentations, focus on your enthusiasm. Become enthusiastic about your topic, and smile. Visualize yourself giving an upbeat, energetic presentation. Watch Steve Jobs. Here’s part of his 2010 keynote for the iPad. If you can match Jobs’s enthusiasm, you’ll give a great presentation.

2. Nouns. And Verbs. Keep It Simple

Although you can use bullet points in your presentations, don’t, unless you have a very specific reason for it. Bullet points deaden a presentation. Use nouns, and verbs. Check out my Authentic Writing deck – nouns and verbs.

Ray Bradbury’s a wonderful storyteller, and has a great writing strategy. He makes lists of nouns:

He began making long lists of nouns as triggers for ideas and potential titles for stories…

3. Rehearse. Then Be in the Moment

Why just nouns and verbs? So that you stay in the moment when you present. Simple slides, with images which make an impact on you and your audience force you to be present – you can’t read your notes. Rehearse your presentation, using notes, until you can give your presentation smoothly, without notes.

Then have fun with it. Interact with your audience. It’s not the end of the world if you have to go back a couple of slides because you forgot to mention something.

4. From Haiku Deck to PowerPoint, PDF, and the World

As we suggested, you can use Haiku Deck to kickstart your PowerPoint presentations. Create your deck, then export to PowerPoint.

Alternatively, export to PDF, to get full-sized images from their source.

Here’s Kent Gustavson’s PDF-export process:

“In preparing for my TEDx, I used the web app, and exported the presentation as a PDF, which allowed me to find the original images on Flickr, and insert them into a presentation that was at a higher resolution to the TED specifications.”

Once you’ve completed your Haiku Deck, you can embed the deck into your site or blog, and can send links to your social media accounts.

5. Let Haiku Deck Inspire You

Every blogger and content creator feels totally uninspired at times. Haiku Deck can help. Begin a new deck. Add a noun and a verb to a slide. Search for images.

I’ve found it helps to doodle as you do this, here’s why. Doodling helps creativity. The benefits of doodling:

.. include increased creativity, because you’re liberating your mind from traditional, linear and linguistic thinking and moving into a more organic thinking space, heightened information processing, heightened information retention and the ability to view content from a variety of different angles.

Keep adding slides to your Haiku Deck, and doodling. You’ll get inspired very quickly. When you’re ready to create content, start creating. Haiku Deck automatically saves your “inspiration”decks. You can work with them later, or just delete them.

Presentation Apps: 5 Haiku Deck Tips

My decks on Haiku Deck.

So there you have it. Give Haiku Deck a try. It’s a superb presentation app; you’ll speed through your presentations, and you’ll enjoy it.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

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

My Writing Journal: Fiction, Nonfiction, Copywriting

My Writing Journal: Fiction, Nonfiction, Copywriting

Here we go with the first day of my writing journal – I hope it inspires you to buckle down and write. Why a journal? Explanation here.

A 5 AM Start, With Fiction.

Out of bed, without hitting the snooze button. Snoozing the alarm is always a temptation, but when I do it means I start the day way behind, so I avoid it. Otherwise I feel pressured all day, and the extra few minutes of dozing aren’t worth it.

I let Honey, my Jack Russell terrier, out while the coffee’s brewing. I gulp coffee and jump right into my current fiction project. It’s a series of historical romance novellas, which I’m ghostwriting for a client. I’m on number three. The client’s thrilled with the first two. He originally commissioned three novellas, but has asked for two more.

So, now I have five to write. Luckily they’re huge fun. I’m halfway through the third, and they’re getting longer and longer. Oops… I need to rein it in, otherwise we’ll end up with two novellas and three novels.

At the end of an hour – two timer sessions – I’ve written 1,200 words, which is enough for today. I need to plan the next couple of scenes; I’ll do that late tonight, or first thing tomorrow.

Fueled by coffee, I feed Honey, and carry on with a nonfiction book, also for a client, for another two timer sessions. Only 500 words of new material, but I’ll take it. I went back to revise a couple of chapters, and exported them to Word from Scrivener, ready to send to the client.

As a reward for my early-morning productivity, I get to read email messages. I answer questions and send feedback on exercises to writing students. I also send a quote to a client. Time flies by, and it’s almost nine o’clock. Time for breakfast, then out to run some errands.

Writing in the Library, and Then Lunch.

I need to return some library books, so I decide to spend an hour writing in the library. Not only is the library peaceful; I enjoy writing there. I outline a couple of new projects in Evernote, then write 700 words of draft blog posts.

After a quick lunch with a friend to discuss a writing project, it’s back to the office.

Afternoon: Reading, Research, and Client Projects.

Chat to Julia. Then more coffee, and more email: quotes for clients, and feedback for students. Then onto the phone, to return some calls.

Time to relax for an hour. Unless I’m traveling, or working on-site, or at meetings, I use afternoons to catch my breath, and work on short projects. I’m most productive in the mornings, and I’m pleased with this morning’s effort, so I allow myself some reading time. I open my ReadKit newsreader. I browse some blogs, make some notes.

Next, I need to do some research for a couple of copywriting projects. I make notes, and do a couple of mind map diagrams, then draft the ads. I call the graphic designer. He uploads a composite for me.

More copywriting. I work on a writer’s bio for an hour, and send him a draft. (More on writer’s bios below.)

Time for a walk. Alone, sadly. Honey’s aging. She rarely walks with me when it’s cold. I take my phone, so I can make some audio notes in Evernote.

Back again. More phone calls. And the day’s done. I’ll review the day’s word counts later.

Daily Review and Word Counts.

After dinner, it’s time for a review of current projects. Everything is on track. However, I’ve put off some administrative stuff I need to do, and I didn’t get around to working on new materials for a writing class.

I check my word counts for the day, and enter them into my log. I’m not in the mood to think about fiction, so I’ll do the scene planning tomorrow.

Writer’s Bios Closed for New Bookings This Year.

I enjoy writing bios, but it takes time, around three to four hours each, at least. We ran an offering on writer’s bios and had lots of bookings, so they’re closed for the rest of the year. Here are some tips on writing a quick bio if you need to write one.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

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

Productivity Tricks: Time Yourself

Productivity Tricks: Time Yourself

How often do you find yourself working hard, and achieving little? Usually this happens when you take your eye off the ball, so to speak.

An example. I’m ghostwriting a series of Regency romance novellas for a client, and I’m endlessly distracted by research — this morning I read about bag wigs for example. This took me on a journey of further reading, and before I knew it, I’d wasted 15 minutes on pointless research, since bag wigs were long out of fashion in the Regency period.

Obviously I have a problem with focus, so let’s look at some productivity tricks this week.

The first one: use a timer.

I’ve been using Repeat Timer Pro which is excellent. However, it doesn’t allow you to track your productivity, so I was looking for an app which would help me to do that. I’ve been hearing good things about Tomatoes (Mac), and since the app looks easy to use, I’ve just installed it.

Tomatoes app

Jens-Petter Berget said of the Tomatoes app:

I have full control over each day and how I’ll be working. Every completed pomodoro is archived. This way, at the end of the week, I can evaluate the week and how productive I’ve been. I’m also tracking all interruptions, to see what I can do to have more focus when I’m working.

We’ll see how it works for me. I’ve never followed the Pomodoro Technique in any meaningful way, but I do find that it suits me to work in 25 minute sessions for some tasks. You can work on anything if you know that a distasteful task will be over in less than half an hour.

When I first installed the Tomatoes app, I freaked a little, because I couldn’t see a clear way to edit the timers. In Repeat Timer Pro, you can set timers of various durations. I have a five-minute timer, for example, for free writes, which I do as warm ups for most projects, to clear my mind and help me to focus before I get started on a task.

In Tomatoes, you set one duration. I decided on 40 minutes, because 25 minutes isn’t long enough for most of my projects.

We’ll see how it goes by the end of this week; I’m hoping that using Repeat Timer Pro, and Tomatoes in combination, will help me to limit distractions, and increase my productivity.

If you’ve got a favorite productivity trick, please share. Leave a comment here, or on Google+.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, too.