cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (Default)
Writing goals for the next 3 months, September - November

Summer is ending and autumn is almost here. The kids are going back to school. I put Cassius on his school bus today at 9 AM. Next week, Theia starts going to preschool 5 mornings a week. This means I get time to write and do writingy stuff! Today is a misc writing stuff day, so I'm tracking big goals and updating my writing to-do list.

Doing the math! Theoretically, if I get myself ready for the day before the kids are out the door (not something I've always succeeded at!), I'll have about 3 1/2 hours to myself every morning to work on writing, plus whatever I can scrape together at other times. Theia's been really uncooperative about staying quietly in her room during afternoon quiet time and bedtime recently, so that time is not as useful as it used to be. Phil usually gives me a couple of hours one evening during the week and also one weekend day.

3.5 morning hours * (5 writing days - 1 misc writing stuff day) + 1 afternoon/evening hour * 6 + 3 bonus weeknight hours + 4 weekend hours - 5 hours weekly of cleaning/bills/paperwork during regular writing time
3.5*(5-1)+1*6+3+4-5 = 22 hours/week to write, max

22 hours seems really high! It's something to shoot for, though. I don't think I'm going to get that much, given my other housework/parenting/social commitments. My estimate of only 5 hours of writing time weekly sacrificed to bills and paperwork and cleaning is probably low. I'm also not very productive in the first hour of a block of writing time.

I am really looking forward to finding out what my writing rate is when both kids are in school, at least in the mornings.

Project 1: Space Marine Midwife anthology short story, "Mother of Nobody" ("Mother of No Child" "Mother of None" "Mother of No-One"). Figure this will probably eat a month of regular writing time, between plotting, writing, critting, and revising.
CURRENT STATUS: I have some ideas.
ETA DUE: Submission period is maybe "late autumn." Hey, I need to get started on this one!

Project 2: Scorpion Dance. My main novel project.
CURRENT STATUS: 70,719 / 100,000 written.
ETA GOAL: Complete draft by 2018, which means 10,000 words in three-quarters of the months remaining. Oh! That's a lot, given everything else I'm doing (yet not much, considering that a full day of writing should net me about 2,000 words--if I ever got a full day of writing) and the various complications of life.

Project 2: The Unkindness of Ravens short-cut. Finish cutting novella down to under 25,000 words. Start sending it on the submission rounds for places that pay enough to make it worth it (i.e. no $100 advance or royalty-only small presses).
CURRENT STATUS: Over halfway done.
ETA: I expect to finish that project this week (by 9/1/2017).

Project 2b: Draw up project timeline, budget, and task list for self-pubbing novella, to be executed either after exclusive period from publication or after exhausting the limited well-paying options for novellas (up to 9 months). Remember to include sequels.
CURRENT STATUS: Not started.
ETA: Tentative, 9 months of collecting rejections would put it DUE BY 6/1/2018.

Project 3: Destroy revisions backlog, starting with "You May Also Like Gas Masks." Current rate for redmarking = 3-4 pgs/week. Then I'll need to make the marked changes (time = ???) and do a final read-aloud draft (1 day). Says something that I don't even know about how much time this process takes me.
CURRENT STATUS: Ongoing project. 13/23 pages redmarked for "You May..."
ETA: About 5 weeks from now to finish the redmarking, estimate 10/5/2017 to finish redmarking.

Project 4: Dragon Succubus, the fluffy side-project novel. The whole point of this project is that it is the thing I'm working on when I don't have anything else to do or when I have only a smidge of time and so I can't work on anything too complicated.
CURRENT STATUS: 56,246 / 80,000 words
ETA: I've been fiddling with it on and off since November 2015, sooooo maybe draft ETA 10/31/2018??

In the next couple of months, I'm also teaching a class at the Loft. I've run it before, so I don't need to come up with the lesson plans, but I need to make a couple of tweaks, do publicity, etc.

I want to get the pseudonym's stuff in the pipeline, but I think that'll have to wait.

And I've been thinking of poking at Circus of Brass and Bone, updating the layout to reflect the episodic nature of it, adding reviews to backmatter and interior, maybe trying some ads and seeing if that boosts sales, trying a bookbub or putting it in Kindle Unlimited. But those things take time and/or money, so. Not putting it on the official goals for the next 3 months, 'cause I have enough things there for now!
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (alas)
3 short stories accepted and waiting for publication
2 back-burnered novels-in-progress
1 active serial novel-in-progress
2 serial novel installments to edit
11 short stories in need of editing
1 short story to submit, low priority
16 short stories to get reprinted
7 submitted short stories that I'm waiting to hear back about
2 short stories in progress, hidden in my writing notebook
3 critique groups with outstanding crits to do
1 website to revamp
2 social media sites to join
199 writing-related "action needed" items
1 upcoming SF/F convention
1 market list to update monthly
1 writing podcast to intro etc.

...I think that's it?

And what have I done today? Written 500 words, gone to a book release party--and started watching L&O: Criminal Intent.

cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (spacecat)
For the first time in a month and a half, I don't have a day job project eating up my precious working time! (Because I'm waiting to hear back from the client, but still.) I can do writing things! It's been so long, I--I hardly know where to start.

Good thing I keep lists and have procedures for just this sort of thing. "First do this, then do this." "Try this to get back into the story you were writing." Like that.

cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (Default)
Of late, it is difficult to get writing done in the morning because the baby sleeps too much.

Let me 'splain.

I am a person of the "7 hours of sleep a day minimum, and 9 or 10 hours on a regular basis is just peachy" variety. This means I cannot do the "sleep 5 hours, wake up at 4 a.m. and write" thing that some writers do (ahem, [ profile] mmerriam, ahem). Since baby moved over to his nursery, we've both been sleeping in until, oh, 8 or even past 9 in the morning, after going to bed around 9:30-10:00. If baby sleeps after 9, he really doesn't want a morning nap an hour later. If baby sleeps until 8, he may condescend to take a very short nap and then be fussy around lunchtime.

Option 1) Wake self and baby up around 7, using alarm/Phil. Attempt to continue with wake up, feed baby, eat breakfast, shower etc., feed baby, put baby down for morning nap schedule. Disadvantages: baby doesn't want to wake up that early; this all depends on me having the willpower to get out of bed; and he may still take a really short nap and just be crankier because he didn't get as much sleep.

Option 2) Wake self up early, try to use that time to write until baby wakes up on his own. Disadvantages: relies on me having willpower to get out of bed; valuable baby-sleeping time would be wasted on me having breakfast and getting ready for the day; and brain does not function ideally first thing in the morning, so quality of produced work is iffy.

Option 3) Sleep in in the morning, try putting baby to sleep earlier and using that time to do writing. Disadvantage: brain also gets tired after long day of baby-wrangling; and me shutting myself in my study to write steals away time from me and Phil.

Option 4) Sleep in, and resign self to losing morning writing time. UNACCEPTABLE!

Perhaps I shall have to give all these different options a shot and see what works best. Dividing my writing time into two sessions--one for writing and one for editing, submitting, etc--had been working well, and I want to keep it up. Maybe I could just use the early morning or the evening session for the non-writing stuff if I feel groggy. As baby gets more autonomous, I could also theoretically do some of the non-writing stuff while watching him.

And I do have stuff to get done. Boy do I ever.

Manuscript count:
Archive trunk stories: 3
Archive trunk novels: 1
Submitted stories: 6
Stories in need of edits: 13
Stories to submit: 2
Reprints to submit: 16
Novels to submit/revise further and then submit: 1
Novels in progress: 2

Didn't realize I still had 6 stories out--that's kinda cool! Maybe I'll get responses back on some of them soon? I know one of the markets is backlogged and plans to clear out their slush by end of July, another habitually takes years to respond, and I have no idea how or when Worldcon plans on responding to their writing contest submissions.

Those two stories to submit are both D-grades, so they get in line behind everything else, even behind submitting reprints out. I try to keep C-grade and above polished stories constantly circulating until they find a home.

I got a "released from slush because we're full" notification on another story today, but I think I'm dumping it into the edits pile instead of the submit pile. I need to strengthen some myth parallels and add more horror elements. Then I can send it to places that would like that sort of thing, instead of mucking about with "all genres" literary magazines.

None of this counts Circus of Brass and Bone, the behemoth that I'm constantly in the process of writing and revising and publishing and revising again. I am within sight of the end, and I can't wait to get there! I'm about five episodes ahead in the writing, but the editing and recording and publishing isn't keeping up. The other two novels-in-progress are both backburnered until I finish the whole thing.

It also doesn't count my day job, which occasionally takes up all my writing slots.

Do you see where the big logjam is? Edits. ::whimper:: Somehow I have to find time for that in my writing schedule without taking away time from Circus of Brass and Bone, and still managing to keep up on my critiques and submissions and market list and writing a solicited short story and cleaning up my website and keeping up with the 26 other items in my "Action Needed - Writing" file. Right now edits are prioritized below everything except the miscellaneous items, but maybe they shouldn't be? Except I think the other things are still more important.

Option 5) Wake self up very early, use that time to write. Wake baby up around 7, using alarm/Phil. Attempt to continue with wake up, feed baby, eat breakfast, shower etc., feed baby, put baby down for morning nap schedule. Try putting baby to sleep earlier and using that time to do writing. Disadvantage: INSANITY.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (Default)
I am so happy I get to work from home next week. Oh, the weather outside is frightful....

I have a work-from-home project that will take a couple of days. After that (unless something else comes up, which is quite likely), I am mistress of my own time. I worked enough day job hours (most of them unpleasant) this week that I don't need the hours next week.

Which is good, since I have a ton of writing to do in a hurry. Work and other obligations meant no writing's been done on The Circus of Brass and Bone this week. I have a number of "written-ahead" scenes for the next episode, though, so I don't anticipate more troubles than usual getting an installment out.

I have high hopes of getting other things done around the house, and working on much-delayed projects, and other happy-fuzzy things.

I want it to be a good week.

(Day 13 of 30.)
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (alas)
Full-time work schedule is preventing me from finishing up my Circus of Brass and Bone episode at the last minute, as usual. NOT HAPPY. It's written, it's edited, but the sound recording and techwork won't happen tonight. Very sad. Late episode. No biscuit. Hopefully will be able to get it out tomorrow despite still working full.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (experiment)
(Preface: I don't have the time for NaNoWriMo, but instead I'm going to try writing a blog post every day. I miss blog posts that were longer than tweets. I suppose that makes it NaNoBloMo--but don't think about it too hard.)

For the last few weeks and for the (?) future (except next week, when I'm covering for somebody else), I've been working from home. Still for NgithOwl, but I used to have a gig where I worked in a law firm, Mere Gears (that was not my employer), along with a few coworkers. I wasn't in the contract, however, so NgithOwl was footing the bill for my presence and hoping to persuade Mere Gears that they wanted to pay to have somebody there to work on the particular project I was working on. About the same time that NgithOwl decided Mere Gears was never going to be willing to pay more to get another person on the contract, I started getting work-from-home projects capturing schematics for MiddleEarth (again via NgithOwl), which pulled me away from Mere Gears a lot of the time anyway.

And then I went away for two weeks to spend time with my mom while she was going through chemo.

Since I got back, I've been getting enough work (my desired hours and then some) from a combination of MiddleEarth and a few other miscellaneous data entry-type projects that I haven't even needed to call in to NgithOwl to see if they have work for me in the Abyss.**

Which is grand! Mostly. I'm still adapting a bit and figuring out the best ways to be a 100% work-from-home person and keep my mental balance and still be productive in a writerly fashion.

* Set your own schedule! Wake up later, have a long lunch!
* Zero commute
* Cuddling cats
* No fear of micro-managers.
* Figure out your own quotas and hours for each day.
* Work in an environment you can relax in.
* No &^%^&!! office politics!
* I can listen to my podcasts on my speakers! Not just headphones! Oh, wait--I can listen to my podcasts at all!

* Never shuts off all the way--if I'm home, I can't dismiss work entirely from my mind if I have a project to work on. I just finished work today at 8:30 PM.
* Zero commute. Which means losing my bike ride when it's warm out, and losing my short story side-project-writing time when it's cold out.
* Hours are not predictable. I don't know how sustainable this is, and it could mean long no-work droughts.
* No other people. I get kinda squirrely when I haven't interacted with other humans for too long.
* I never have to leave the house. I get kinda squirrely when I haven't left the house in too long.
* No free food (hey, office free food is awesome).
* Errands became more difficult since I'm not just in Downtown every day anyway.
* Setting my own schedule makes it too easy to just start late and let it eat up all my writing time.

The advantages really outweigh the disadvantages, but I really need to figure things out and establish new routines and, well, re-balance.

** Apparently, if you stare into the Abyss long enough, the Abyss stares back and says, "Hmm, maybe you need a work-from-home project."
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (editing)
Circus of Brass and Bone Writing Log

New words: 1,371
Total words: 35,149
Overused word: townsfolk
Gratuitous word: broadside
Type of scene: Escape!
Challenge(s): Character interactions.
Which line is it anyways?He pushed himself up and ran again.
Researched: No research! Bonus!
Notes: This was an experiment in allotting writing time. I work from home on projects for my day job for a minimum of 4-6 hours a day (and sometimes a lot more). I usually work on that until I hit the benchmarks I need to get those projects done by their due date, and then I switch to writing. My peak productive time for writing is in the afternoon, beginning 1-2 PM and ending around 6 (though I usually stop earlier to make dinner). So this time I experimented with stopping work on the day job project when I entered that peak writing zone, switching to writing until I hit my quota and finished writing out what unreeled there, and then switched back to the day job project, which inspiration and peak times do not really affect. I'll call it a success for writing (look at my wordcount!), even though I ended up not finishing my work stuff until about 9 PM. That last bit kinda sucked. But I did get an hour dinner break in there to relax, so it's not all bad. The experiment shall continue!
Other writingy stuff:
* Freewriting
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (Default)
I am halfway(ish?--setup done, big reveal in process, next is identity crisis and resolution) through "Ekaterina and the Fire Bird,"
which I am writing to submit to Scheherazade's Facade, which is due 02/28.
The MinnSpec workshop is 02/21... I need to have the manuscript loaded for critique by 02/11.
So I need to have the whole thing written and typed up, with transitions put in, by 02/11.
Today is 01/29.

I don't think I can rely any longer on finishing it by writing longhand on the bus. Even though I probably have < 3,000 words to write to finish it, I need to switch over to typing it, and I need to do that as my main writing thing during my writing time.

Grumblety-grumble. The point of this was to still get writing done while my primary writing time was being used to edit Vicesteed. Still! New story! Story I'm excited to get back to, to see how what happens next will unfold. "Who's my favorite little Russian fairytale-retelling gender-bending family curse fire bird story? That's right, you are."

For obvious reasons, I'd really rather submit this particular story to the anthology I wrote it for first, as I don't know how good its chances would be in the outside world.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (editing despair)
Husband is softly snoring in bed, houseguest is tucked away in the attic, Foundling is curled up in the cat basket in my study, Fu Manchu is asleep a foot above him on a platform on the cat tree, and squirrels are dancing along the telephone lines outside my window.

Me? Oh, I'm sitting at my computer typing up critiques for the (T minus 2 1/2 hrs) MinnSpec writing group meeting, as I have been since about 7:30. Going to have to skip church today, too, to get them finished. Grump. This has happened the last many times. I don't process them as "first in importance to do" until the meet is only a day or so away, and heaven help me if there's other stuff I have to do instead during that time. Next meeting I'll get these done several days ahead of time. Honest. Watch me. (And remind me if I forget, eh?)

At least I wasn't drinking at [ profile] ethel's huge! crowded! housewarming party last night, so I'm not hungover to boot. Just a bit tired--but I had fun and enjoyed talking with a wide variety of friends and strangers.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (Default)
Home at 7:15. Microwaved food Phil'd prepared (pasta and red sauce) and ate. Folded laundry for 2 hours while watching NCIS. Did dishes. Did laundry. Cleaned kitchen a bit. Folded Christmas card box. Drank cup of eggnog while catching up on internets, and then it was very late.

Oh, and there's still more laundry.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (Default)
The last few weeks have been full of not-writing. Between filling in at an on-site and doing database projects, I've been working full-time+ except for our road trip to Wisconsin to visit Phil's family at Christmas. And then there were so many family events that I wasn't able to work on writing stuff--although I did manage to finish my Christmas cards! It was very, very nice to have this past weekend off. This week I'm working on-site at a law firm where we manage all the office services, filling in since one person got fired and one person's out sick. Working 9:30 to 6:00, which means I have a little time in the morning, but not much, and I don't get home until 7ish. That doesn't leave much time for anything but eating, quickly checking the "important" parts of the internets (where I can lose hours), and the most perfunctory of housework, even if I skimp on my physical therapy exercises.

I've managed to get a little Vicesteed editing around the edges, but only a very little.

As far as housekeeping--barely the bare necessities: I ran the Roomba for the first time in 2 weeks this morning, Mt. Laundry takes up an entire couch, the bathroom desperately needs a cleaning, and the cobwebs are so aggressively expanding their territory that I'm a little worried the cats will get stuck in them. Used to be, working a full day meant getting home around 5, dinner on the table at 6, or 7 at the latest. Now, I'm not even getting home until 7, sometimes later. Phil would starve if he waited for me to cook. He's been doing the cooking, but he's pretty much ran through his repertoire: BLTs, soup and cheese sandwiches, spaghetti, and tacos (mmm, tacos).

On the other hand, we're all still getting fed, the dishes are washed, and the laundry is clean, if prone to landslides.

Next week should be better, as I told them other things were building up (they are!) and I needed to switch back to part-time. Of course, that part-time is 1PM - 6:00PM, so dinner planning will still be--interesting.

As you may have guessed by now, today is a quiet day in the office, and I'm able to play on the internets (albeit I might get frowned at).

Soon I'll be writing/researching on my short-story-in-progress, "Ekaterina and the Firebird."
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (editing despair)
It's the holiday season and I've been working full+ time for the day job, so the writing time has been very spotty. Among the things I haven't had time for is posting writing logs, so there's an impressive backlog.

Read more... )
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (Default)
Lessons learned:
* Nobody expects the Squirrel Inquisition!
* Never, ever set a "misc" goal unless it's got a time limit on it. Try to specify tasks instead--or at least a number of misc tasks.

Read more... )
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (Default)
My time is at a premium right now.* I'm working full-time, though hopefully not for too long. I have 2 hours of knee exercises every night (including stretches and icing and elevating at the end). I desperately need time to write, edit, and submit stories. Alas, I cannot just cut TV out of my life to get more time, because that's when I do my physical therapy. (I'm actually watching a bit more TV than usual. Phil has set Criminal Minds to rotate 3rd in our Netflix queue, and that's not often enough. Ahem. Anyway.)

One of my timesinks is email. (Another is LJ, but that's a topic for another post--or, er, maybe not.)

I love the idea of Inbox Zero, but once I was past the first week of my Gmail account, I've only had a blissfully empty inbox a handful of times. Complicating this is that I use my Gmail inbox as a rough gathering place for my to-do list. All hail red exclamation point stars and bright orange "Action Needed" labels! That's not going to change; it's way too convenient to have a centralized, accessible-anywhere, easy way to send myself reminders and/or flag various emails as requiring a follow-up action**.

The Process
1. Read personal emails, blog comments, etc. Respond if I can in a couple of minutes, or if a response is urgent or overdue, otherwise yellow star for later.

2. Tackle "Action Needed" items. If it's urgent, red exclamation point star it. If it has to be done this week, yellow exclamation point star it. If it has a more general due date or is just a reminder for a project, add that info to my Master Task List spreadsheet (that's straight-up Getting Things Done) and archive it. First tackle exclamation point items. Then go after the rest--if it will take only a minute and I'm in a location where I can, do it.

3. Read other emails only under the following circumstances:
* I have finished my writing quota**** for the day.
* I'm eating.
* I'm burnt out and honestly need a 10-minute break (note: not "I'm procrastinating.")
Give preference to news, writing newsletters, etc.

4. On Sundays, clean-slate everything more than a day old. Delete tasks that no longer need to be done. Archive*** unread emails, with the exception of writing newsletters, recipes, poems, and comic strips. The writing newsletters because they're professionally useful, the others because they're small bursts of enjoyment. By that time, I've probably absorbed the news through osmosis anyway, and the other stuff isn't essential.

I thought I was keeping up with my email pretty well, but just following step 4 still wiped out 24 email messages on Monday. Yikes. Although I'm starting this because time has become so short, this is probably a practice I should maintain at all times--sometimes I'll just be able to hit my writing quota more rapidly (or at all).

* But I can justify this post because 1) other people might find it useful, and 2) I really need to have a reference list for what works to help me be more productive. Writing things down is how I process and remember them. I think I'll include this post in a master "time management for Abra" file.

** Adding a recipe to the spreadsheet of recipes I can make with on-hand ingredients, processing a critique, adding a market to my market list, posting a poem.

*** I can only make myself do this by lying to myself and saying, "Well, if I have a lot of free time, I can always go back and read these later."

**** Currently defined as 1 chapter redmarked and edited, or 1,000 words written. For me, this is a difficult mark to hit.


cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (Default)
Abra Staffin-Wiebe

March 2019

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