The Surprising power of Time Slices

January 30, 2013

Just a few short thoughts to share for today. One – about the closing of Six Sentence Sunday. First off, I have to once again give big props to all the admins over at http://www.sixsunday.com for all the work they’ve put into running such a huge ongoing blog hop for so long. I can appreciate that the job only got more stressful once they announced that it was going to be closing, and that they’re sick and tired of hearing pitches about people who want to carry on the torch and want something from them.

But – man, they closed up the shop quickly! I’d been looking forward to reading more entries from last Sunday, and sixsunday.com is locked up tight. Everything’s been taken down, the linky lists, the cover art ads, the FAQ and rules list – just one post saying that they don’t endorse any copycats – and commenting disabled on the post. It’s a little sad for me to see it end that way – would it have hurt anybody to leave the Jan 27th link list available for a full week? Sigh.

Moving on – as you may know, I’ve been doing cleaning timeslices for a long time, off and on. One of my 2013 goals was to keep up an average of 2 hours cleaning and tidying in my apartment for the whole year, and I had a good streak going from December too. So after I was done with work yesterday, I looked around the living room, decided that I should probably tackle the CD containers near the back shelves in my living room, as that was one of the few loci of mess remaining on the living room floor that doesn’t really belong there. Once the floor is actually clear, I can start working on sweeping and even washing the floor! (I’ve already been through this in the other rooms of the apartment – the living room is the last holdout.)

Then I did a bit of math on the numbers from the iPhone project tracker I’ve been using for my January cleaning timeslices and changed my mind. I was up to 9 hours and an odd minute, which was enough to declare that I was keeping up on my goal for the month – I could skate through the rest of the month and dive back into the living room stuff when February started. So I sat down at the Toshiba laptop and worked on some photo conversion stuff for the old Dell Axim handheld that I’d been wanting to get done.

After an hour of that, I figured that I’d done enough for that and needed to get another timeslice marked off on my calendar. So what do I do? Completely forgetting that I’d decided to give myself three days off cleaning, I log back into the hours tracker and spend ten minutes clearing mess off the living room floor! 😀

That’s the power of timeslices right there – when doing something that you’ve always thought of as an unpleasant chore becomes enough of a habit that you find yourself doing it even after you gave yourself a day off from it, or three. 🙂

Are you doing any timeslices lately? What’s the most unappealing project you’ve gotten through a little bit at a time?

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New Year, New Goals

January 1, 2013

Happy New Year to you, friends and followers! I haven’t been that wild about the number 13 for a little while. It didn’t really start as a superstitious thing; I just started to dislike it when I began messing around with number theory and factoring; I tend to prefer numbers with lots of factors to primes, and there 13 is, not just a prime, but coming right after 12, the first number to have five different factors other than itself. 😉

But since we’re stuck with 2013 for a whole year, I’ve decided that I need to learn to love it, and part of that is my ‘Lucky 13’ goals list for the year – 13 things I want to accomplish in the year. Here’s the list:

  1. Apply for Summer workshops: Odyssey, Clarion West, Clarion, and CSSF Novels.
  2. Finish ‘How to Revise your Novel’ lessons.
  3. Submit revised “Won’t somebody think of the children” for critters.org RFDR and nanowrimo.org Feedback/Critiques forum.
  4. New novel-length revision project – get through Block Revision at least.
  5. Finish lessons 1-8 of ‘How to Think Sideways’ (given to me by my sister.)
  6. Finish working through ‘Drawing on the Right side of the brain’
  7. Read 104 short stories (2 per week)
  8. Spend 2 hours cleaning/tidying apartment every week
  9. Polish 50 chapters of completed fanfic.
  10. Complete 2 fanvideos
  11. Write 15 new short stories
  12. Do short story shrine revisions on 4 stories
  13. Start online dating

And, I’ve come up with a short list of steps I want to take in January – not definitive, as I expect I’ll also be working on things like the cleaning and short stories in every month…

  • Finish lesson 20 of ‘How to Revise your Novel’
  • Review critters feedback for ‘Gnomes’ and revise sample chapters accordingly.
  • Flesh out five-page synopsis for ‘The Gnomes are Missing’
  • Cut Block Revision draft of “The Storm Mirror” down to 6500 words.
  • Proofread “Time Bubble Trap” and submit to critters.org queue
  • Get feedback on ‘The Storm Mirror’
  • Earn a critters mpc credit
  • Finish updating 12 stories on fanfiction.net

How about you, have you got anything already on your to-do list for 2013?


Calendar of Goal Tracking 2012 wrap-up

December 31, 2012

 

Happy New Year’s Eve!

Since it’s the last day of 2012, I thought I’d take down my Big Bang ‘Calendar of Goal Tracking’ to see how I did. (I took pictures of every page, though, to share with you, though it’s a little hard to make out the letters from the photos.)

Some overall thoughts:

  1. Counting hundreds of little letters from a calendar is hard! I’m sure I’ve made some counting errors, but I’m not worrying about 100% accuracy tonight.
  2. This has really been a good experiment for me, and a great way to motivate myself to do time-slices, especially for things like exercise and cleaning that I have a hard time motivating myself for otherwise.
  3. There were quite a few letters missing that I was able to work out from other evidence, including several R’s, one E in March, a D on a Sunday in November when I know I went to a write-in, and so on.
  4. I’m definitely going to try something of the sort for 2013. Since I’m trying to save money where I can, and I got a decent looking ‘Muscle cars’ calendar free from the oil change shop, I guess that’s my goal tracking calendar for next year!

Details about the goals I tracked:

  • B for Blogging: I marked a B to indicate a day that I posted a new blog post 297 times. This seems low compared to my WordPress.com annual report, even taking into account that I never went back and updated the calendar for the 2 weeks I spent in Kansas (and at Polaris, the weekend after I got back from Kansas.) I suspect that several times, I did a blog post last thing in the evening, went to bed, and never went back and marked my B.
  • C for Cleaning: I got 166 Cs for a timeslice of at least 20 minutes cleaning, tidying, or organizing things around my apartment. Occasionally this was a double C in a single day, if I was feeling exceptionally cleanergetic.
  • D for Driving. 197 days got the letter D for days that I drove, either driving practice before I passed my licence, borrowing a family car, or just driving in Ghost once I’d bought my own car.
  • E for Editing. I have 251 of the letter E marked in the calendar for working on my own editing. 50 of them are in March, where I was using one E to indicate one hour logged for National Novel Editing Month. Otherwise, it’s any significant amount of time, at least 20 minutes or so, one E per day.
  • L for Losing.  Each letter L represents a half-hour time slice of walking around outside or other cardio exercise. Could be double Ls in a day. I got 335.
  • Read the rest of this entry »

Goals and Resolutions update, September 2012

September 21, 2012

Well, now that I’ve finished my Block Revision, I’ve got a bit more time to look at some of the other goals that I set myself for this month. I don’t think I’m in too bad shape, but I’ve got enough to keep me busy until October. 😉

  1. Start lesson 18 of ‘How to Revise your Novel.’ I’ve sortuv done this already, in that I’ve read the lesson. It’s all about fairly low-level editing; voice and style and grace and elegance (that’s actually a bad one!) and how to place commas correctly so your reader doesn’t want to kill himself or you. I’ll need to organize what I had left from Block Revision before I start in earnest, but that’s cool.
  2. Read 3 short stories – I’m already at 2, both courtesy of the F&SF free magazine subscription on my Kindle; one was an issue that I thought I missed when June switched to July, before I figured out the way to access back issues.
  3. Submit two critiques for critters. Done! One was sample chapters for a longer book that you could critique for extra credits, and I liked the opening, so I’ve requested the full manuscript. Hopefully I can critique that before November.
  4. Exercise every day (at least 30 minutes) and stick to my 2500 calorie diet. Doing pretty well so far…
  5. Cleaning and tidying the apartment. I’m on track here too, over 5 hours tracked out of eight. If I stick to 20 minutes cleaning a day, I’ll be great, can even take one day off. And at least a lot of the cluttered receipts are dealt with.
    I just realized as I was writing that that when I was going through backlog mail and flyers this evening, I didn’t remember throwing old receipts out of my wallet, which is something that I want to do before tomorrow, so that I have room to bring extra cash to the Toronto Doctor Horrible screening and auction! I’ll have to remember to do it before I go tomorrow morning
  6. Organizing files on the netbook computer. Also doing very well, an hour and a half spent out of my target two hours.
  7. Posting a new, edited story up on fanfiction.net – well, I’ve gone through my files, found a story that’s already partly edited. Need to get my butt in a higher gear on this one.
  8. Critique homework stories from the other CSSF workshop writers. Sent in one critique, started on another, out of six. Again, I need to work harder here.

Do you have goals that you’re working on this month? How are they coming along?


May goals update

May 12, 2012

Well, after doing National Novel Editing Month in March, and Script Frenzy + A-Z challenge in April, I went back to picking my own stretch goals in May, and I think that they’re going pretty well so far…

Back to ‘How to Revise your Novel.’ It’s taken me a little while to get back up to speed with where I left off in this Holly Lisle course, but I’ve finished off lesson 14 and done the reading for lesson 15 now. They’re both relating to timeline stuff: 14 talks about the ‘simple’ chronological timeline and the importance of getting that straight, and then 15 suggests different exercises with complex timelines to see what they can add to your book – flashforward openings, flashbacks to the beginning, backward scene-by-scene chronologies, and parallel structures where you go through each character’s timeline one by one. I’m not sure that any of those are the ticket for ‘Children’, but I want to go through the exercises and see if I can make any of them tell me something new about my story.

Drafting short stories. I’m still not quite crazy or confident enough to try ‘Story a Day in May’, but I’ve committed to writing three new shorts in May, and as of tonight I’ve finished two, including one that I submitted to the SDMB short fiction contest! 🙂

Cleaning my apartment. I need to keep on with this too, but I’ve gotten a good start – my kitchen is pretty much in good enough shape that the air conditioner guy can get some work done in there, which is very important at this time of year.

Reading and critiquing stuff. Doing fairly well. I’m all done with my slush pile responsibilities for James Gunn’s Ad Astra, until a new batch of submissions comes through. I’m keeping up with ‘two stories a week’ for Elizabeth Twist’s short story reading challenge, and – well, I’m not sure I’m going to get anything in for critters.org this week, but I’m going to do some critting before May is over!

Preparing for Kansas workshop. Some progress – I have my new passport, which was important as the old one would expire before I had to fly. I’ve sent in my registration form for the workshop session and the dorm room. Still need to – book flights, send in payment to the University, and revise the stories that I want to get workshopped. 🙂

How much have you accomplished so far this month?


Campaigner Spotlight: Chris Eboch

October 1, 2011

Hey, everybody! Tonight the spotlight is shining on Chris Eboch, from Write Like a Pro.

What’s the earliest clear memory you have?
Our neighbor’s house burning down. In my memory, I was lying on my bed reading when my father came in to get me, and I was annoyed at the interruption. I was four, so I probably wasn’t really reading – maybe flipping through a picture book with a familiar story – but I find it funny that my first memory involves both books and a dramatic event.

What’s your hobby horse?
If you mean what do I do for fun, I spend a lot of time reading, of course – the cheapest, easiest way to explore other worlds. Now that I live in New Mexico, with beautiful weather almost year-round, I love to get outside to take advantage of it, whether it’s having weekend brunch on the patio with my husband as the hummingbirds dart around us, or fossil hunting in the desert, or rock climbing on one of the many nearby cliffs.

What’s your pet peeve?
Cleaning the kitchen. It’s not that the job is so bad, but that it never stays clean more than half a day. As a writer, I hate when people assume that writing is easy, anyone could do it, and all you have to do is whip out a book to get rich quick. If only!

I offer writing advice on my blog, Write like a Pro! I have years of experience as a writing teacher, freelance critiquer, and workshop leader, and I’ve written over 20 articles for Children’s Writer or Writer’s Digest. I try to go beyond the common advice and dig into the nitty-gritty of writing, such as how to find moments for cliffhanger chapter endings and make the most of them. Recently I’ve been sharing excerpts from my new book, Advanced Plotting, which includes essays from other professional writers. Check out my past posts, and perhaps follow me for future advice!


Monthly projects lists

September 23, 2010

I’ve been keeping a monthly projects list for about a year and a half now – it’s another Stringing Words thing, that started pretty much as soon as the forum restarted on its own domain in March 2009. Different members post their to-do items in the same monthly thread, and cheer each other along a little, like we do with the word count threads. I can’t remember if the same thing happened on the ‘old’ Stringing words, and all the content there was lost so I can’t check – probably that doesn’t matter.

The funny thing is, nearly from the first I guess my projects have seemed to fall along a spectrum from ‘creative’ to ‘not’ – Stringing Words is a site about creative endeavours, after all, mostly literary ones, and a lot of the projects fit with that focus – finishing stories, starting story ideas, posting critiques, proofing, revising, stretching your writing skills and so on.

And then, there are the ‘real life’ sort of goals – finding scholarships, tidying up, decorating, finishing academic classes in good standing. I post those kind of projects more often than many other Stringers, I think, and it’s probably good for me – that I’ve found somewhere to put things like cleaning, insurance, medical tests, and driving lessons on a checklist where I can get that sense of accomplishment from crossing each one off when they’re done, and also feel some vague sense of accountability to people that I know if I don’t manage to complete them in time.

Tomorrow, if all goes well, I should get two more real life projects done!


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