A Round of Words in 80 Days
Round 2 2014
The writing challenge that
knows you have a life
I keep track of the time invested with a Google Doc spreadsheet linked on the goals page and also in each check-in along with a screenshot of the most recent days.
This round I've added time-management and habit formation goals that aren't easily tracked on a spreadsheet. Or at least not the same one. These skills are the subject of the coaching my husband has been providing.
Current Check-In -- This section, just below the spreadsheet screenshot, will contain commentary about encounters with the goals since the previous check-in, LOLs, post roundups and any relevant links. They are arranged like a blog inside a blog.
GOALS AND HABITS:
__Habits and Structure that Supports Writing -- These are the things my coach aka husband is working with me on.
__Month by Month -- Very specific and limited projects for each month
__Ongoing Fiction Files Tasks: -- Big and small projects--WIP, editing, organizing notes, timelines, rosters, sketches, research etc
__Other Writing -- working the AWAI copywriting course; book reviews; poetry; freewrite and journaling
Read Craft -- currently reading and recently finished
The Lifequake -- Life decided to give me free lessons on the art of flexibility in January of 2013. There have been continuous aftershocks.
Self Management -- applying flexibility, persistence, habit rehabilitation as I learn that caring for myself is the foundation for all else. Including writing.
Evolution of the Workstations -- the never-ending story with pictures and commentary about the attempt to create a productivity environment here at Mom's
Thursday: Of Magic, Memories and Coping Mechanisms where I shared the 2nd insight derived from Tuesday's experience promised at the end of Wed
Friday: Friday Forays in Fiction: Quote -- a riff on the relationship of memory to story, truth and fiction (the John Irving quote on memories is in the LOLcat to the left.)
I'm still leaving most other priorities on the back burners which is reflected by the spreadsheet. But because Merlin is no longer tolerating being held my hands were free when I was free to sit at the computer so I started writing about the insights and memories which is reflected in the MISC WORDS count on the far right. And those are conservative estimates
Merlin is still with us but failing fast. He began drinking water again Tuesday afternoon and Tuesday evening accepted a dozen or so flakes of salmon from my salmon patty off my dinner plate. This gave me a burst of hope but that was the last time he ate. As of late Saturday night he was still drinking water and must have done while I was asleep but I've not seen him drinking since I woke at 10 this morning (Sunday June 1) and it is pressing 5pm as I finally get this ready to go.
isat teh raynbo bridj ai see?
But, you know what? I'm OK with that.
I'm living an object lesson on the 'life happens' front: sometimes something happens that trumps everything else. Something so profoundly important there are no competing priorities.
Tuesday morning as I reached my desk chair I kicked into something. Looking down I saw Merlin's hind legs. Alarmed by the realization he had not stirred and by how still and lifeless he looked, tears were flooding my eyes as I bent down, calling him by every name and nickname we'd ever used for him...
I won't repeat the whole story here as I already told it in Tuesday's Photo Essay: Merlin Moments
He had not crossed the rainbow bridge yet that morning but was so unresponsive for the next two hours I suspect he'd made it halfway before I called him back. I was so sure in the moments between him lifting his head as I began to lift him and when he indicated he wanted down nearly three hours later that we had only minutes to say our goodbyes I could not bear to take my attention off of him.
Alarmed by how chilled his paws, ears and tail were, I tucked him inside my fleece vest and zipped it to my breastbone. The elastic waistband created a safe pouch for him and for as much of the next two hours as I could I kept my focus on his breath and mine. I kept as still as I could except for texting Ed as soon as I sat down and answering his vid chat call an hour and a half later.
For the first time in a very long time there was only ONE thing on my mind. It was both a strange and a strangely familiar sensation, a strong deja vu that was more memory than an illusion of having lived through this very moment before.
I tested my memories of our Gremlyn's last week in 2007 but that wasn't it. It took several minutes of just sitting with that sensation as I continued holding Mers next to my heart and focusing on our breaths. After a bit I found I was trying to synchronize my breath with his and noticed how calm I felt.
And then he started purring for the first time since I'd picked him up and moments later I identified the memory this was conjuring.
But this post is already long enough and I've shared the first insight--that sometimes life gives you something to tend to that turns every other priority to pale and wispy dandelion fluff floating out of sight on a puff of air--I'm saving the other equally profound insight for either tomorrow's post or my Saturday night check-in.
|Desperately Seeking Sleep|
There was a Renaissance faire in the Rogue Valley near Ashland this weekend and Ed attended with a friend so that's where that came from but now I'm intrigued and thinking what a fine setting for a story and I even know which of my characters would gravitate to such an event.
Indulging myself on this research binge like in the old days--previous to 18 or 20 months ago--has had repercussions. I'm behind on my posts, I've nearly stopped writing other than taking notes, I'm behind on my chores (keeping my environment clean and uncluttered) and pushing the evening lights out time.
Merlin is sick. I'm afraid he's nearing his time. He will be 14 July 6. He's been loosing weight for months. He's been drinking and peeing excessively and my sister says this is how their cat Dante's last year went and it's been nearly that long for Merlin. It's a sign his kidneys are failing. Merlin is Ed's cat and he's going to be devastated if he never gets to see him again.
|The Power of Words From the Heart|
That is after the melatonin kicks in which really increases the risk for mistakes, messes and injury for me. Poor focus, clumsy, sleepy. I could possibly fix this by serving dinner early enough that I can clean up before reading or alternatively read to Mom before dinner. Either before I begin meal prep or while a casserole is in the oven. I've repeatedly tried to implement these but keep running into snags. One of which is the clash with the evening vid chats with Ed when he works past 3. I should be starting meal prep or reading by 5 to make it work but we're often just starting our chat between 4:30 and 5:0.
This past week has been full of insights and encounters relevant to writing. I wrote about one yesterday, linked with the image to the right. About an image and story gone viral about the impact of a handwritten note. This moved me on several levels as I'd recently rediscovered the power of writing rough draft by hand which is how I'd always done it before my first word processor. I've been working on a post about that.
Then there is the Transformational Authors Webinar series I'm listening to this week and next. A total of 22 talks on writing the self-help or memoir that focuses on the personal journey of transformation. I've had a number of insights after listening to four talks. The two most significant on the importance of commitment and consistency and the necessity of working through the fear and of owning all of our emotions and accepting them without judgment.
The day after writing the last check-in about the frustrations with how much time I spend on each post, I found a book on my Nexus Kindle that I'd downloaded free during a promo called 50 Ways to Get Ideas for Blog Posts by Dylan Varian. Talk about synchronicity. I read it in one sitting. It's more of a pamphlet than a book and I suspect began as a blog post. I got a lot of ideas for how to smooth that path for myself. Should probably do a post about it.
Need to be in bed--like--NOW. Had a headache most of the morning and afternoon which is why I'm still working on my post after dinner. If I'd had to read to Mom I'd probably have waited until morning to finish this. But my sister took Mom to get a haircut after dinner.
My JuNoWriMo Goals
Because I can't get a handle on the sleep everything else remains hit or miss as well. The primary thing keeping me from getting to bed on time is not having my post up before dinner around 7. The target is to have it up before lunch! It's demoralizing me that my whole day from getting off the tramp at 7:30ish (9:30ish on weekends) until late afternoon vid chat at 5ish is monopolized by that one task. It's become a screaming monkey riding my neck and beating me with a riding stick.
I've been advised by several to stop demanding daily posts of myself. But I'm afraid of the feeling of failure that would take hold of me and of my tendency to let something go entirely once I give myself permission to relax a commitment. That's part of what got me into this most recent mess I allowed myself a couple of late nights and it turned into fifteen nights and one by one the habits I'd put in place and maintained for 14 days also began to slide away.
But because I'm spending an average of 4-5 hours on each post I'm not getting to use that morning brain work time to write fiction and reviews, read, research, blog maintenance, blog surfing and social networking or work on my future business web pages. Or work on the family photo scan and digital album and do maintenance on the computer system, email, applications, computer files, WhizFolder files: fiction, reviews, link lists, research, study, project manager, and Master Task List. Or do my AWAI copywriting lessons, and my Rosetta Russian lessons, and install/learn my OED dictionary, Smart Draw CI, Britannica 2009 CD, and the Aeon Timeline for writers, and Scrivener all seven of which I paid for between late August and late April.
And because I'm so often not posted before lunch I'm not getting to do the afternoon activities like fiber arts, drumming, vigorous exercise, put away/organize, shower, socializing, go to library or store and sorting the rest of the hastily packed stuff from our Phoenix, Oregon house.
What is causing posts to take so long? Aside from the ADD and visual impairment that is?
- Difficulty coming up with topic.
- Difficulty finding image.
- Writing a waaay too long rough draft that needs extensive editing.
- Distractions that take me away from the tab or the computer.
My dream is to find a way to build a backlog of rough drafts and finished or nearly finished posts and another of post topic concepts with images, links and research attached. I call it a dream because it is what I hope to have but I don't yet have a plan in place to get me from here to there.
But even at the time I wrote that I'd already started sliding off the track as I'd just strung together three days of shorted sleep--two 7s and a 6 and over the following ten days I have had only two mornings where I woke with 7.5 or better. It's been mostly 7 and 6 hours with several 4 and one 5. And one of those 4s ought to have been a three probably.
After four days of this I was already noticing the downturn in mood, focus, and IQ. I began to make mistakes and have minor mishaps. I started letting the schedule slip. For over a week now I've been playing catch up with my posts again, running one to two days late. Other tasks have slid too--I've got ten days worth of clean clothes and lightly worn outfits not yet put away, I've woke too late to do face/hair/teeth before vid chat for three mornings in a row this week after racking up more than a month of no misses. I would have missed vid chat altogether on Tuesday if Ed had not elected to catch a later bus.
It is really falling apart now. My mood is tanking again. Just like last February and March. I don't think it is a coincidence that February's slide followed the week of Valentine's Day in which I wallowed in memories of last year's Valentine's week (actually January 24th through the end of February) when it looked like our marriage was tanking. I'd started reliving the painful memories of the lifequake starting with the day it rocked my world into rubble.
I continued reliving it right on through the three trips down after my stuff and to help Ed clear out of our house after the landlord gave notice he was selling. From the first evening of the first trip in late February when it became clear Ed was committed to working it out, happier memories began to accumulate but it just made it bittersweet because each visit had to end. The last one ended on May 11. Since then we've had only text, phone and vid chats to sustain us.
I began anticipating May 11 this year the last week of April which was the beginning of my nearly two week visit last year with the last ten days just the two of us. We created lots of happy memories that visit but as I relived them they were all tinged gray by the shadow of the morning of May 11.
The reason I've focused on this mood issue and its roots for this check-in is not just because it has negatively impacted my writing productivity and creativity but because I had another major insight about how my writing has been positively impacted by reliving other powerful memories with strong emotional charges.
The story I've been rewriting since April 1st grew out of a similar wallowing in memories charged with powerful grief and longing over the death of a beloved child--my cousin's adopted daughter--and our decade long struggle with infertility.
What I realized while comparing my memories of that wallow with the experience of this one was that both times the emotions during the reliving/wallowing were significantly more powerful than the emotions I experienced as the events took place. While living through the actual events I was mostly numb and all my senses were muted but when reliving in my mind the memories were 3D motion pictures in technicolor and the emotions were electrical and surged like waves on a rocky beach at the foot of a cliff.
So maybe I have another powerful story brewing in this emotional stew.
There was another major insight regarding creativity this week but I've already written that post: Rhythm and Muse.
I posted thrice on ROW80 Goals related topics besides the check-ins:
Tuesday was Scrivener and the Whiz in which I show screenshots of my desktop as I work on the Candy Kiss rewrite with Whiz, my long-time favored ap, and set up Candy Kiss in my new Scrivener ap.
Thursday was My Other Desktops in which I post pics of the four other desktops surrounding me with the reference books and paper clutter from the Candy Kiss notes and drafts
Friday was Friday Forays in Fiction: Quote in which I share share a quote by Stephen King on rewriting and a witty kitty's suggested edits.
|Scrivener and the Whiz|
The other major front that I've been tracking here for over a year now is the self-care necessary for supporting a productive, creative writing life. The five elements of which my husband identified at the beginning or our coaching sessions in mid March as needing to take priority over every thing else: sleep, meds, nutrition, exercise and hygiene. Add to that a supporting structure to the day to lock them in place and routines for each one that puts them on autopilot.
The nascent structure in place now seems to be solidifying nicely (the %s before the time are success rate in 10 days since April 28, the Monday following the thon):
80% 4:44AM -- Wake.
90% 4:50 AM -- Face/Hair/Teeth
80% 5:00AM -- Getting tea, breakfast, Rx and supplements, grazing snacks, feed cats.
30% 5:30AM -- Freewrite
90% 6:15AM -- Vid chat with Ed
100% 6:45AM -- Mini-Tramp while reading, watching videos or playing a game on my Nexus 7 [am often not on it til after 7 but not missed a day since March 12]
30% 8:00AM -- Begin work on daily post. [success = immediately following tramp + posted before lunch but sooner done sooner can work on other projects tho I'm often fudging this and moving on to other brain work before posting]
100% 9:00 -- Brain work projects [100% Fiction Files -- 100% Read Craft -- 100% Read Fiction -- 40% Research -- 50% Crochet -- 0% AWAI, Book Reviews]
1:00PM -- Fix and eat lunch with Mom. Clean up kitchen.
[Sometime between 3 and 6 Ed starts a 20-90min vid chat]
6:30PM -- Dinner
7:30PM -- Read to Mom
8:00PM -- Prepare for bed
8:30PM -- In bed reading, watching video or playing game on Nexus 7 [shameless self bribery]
9:30PM -- Lights out. Including the tablet.
zero 24+ hour wake periods since April 2
60% 7.5+ hour sleeps in last 30 days [11 days under. one 3hr, one 4hr, nine 6+]
35 of last 40 days without zeroes in Fiction Files or Fiction/Wrimo Words
If you were to follow the link to the scrollable spreadsheet in the screenshot caption above you'd discover that the date column reads April 2014 for all 600+ lines below February 28. Apparently something I did while preparing the May rows caused this. I prepare the new months by copying the date column for a month with the same number of days, creating the correct number of rows and pasting then changing the month number.
I remember being frustrated when I repeatedly tried to paste the April date column on the blank rows and nothing showed up. I didn't notice until I started scrolling down today to collect the statistics for this check-in. I fixed March and pinned February 28 in place so I'd not forget it was not 29. I can't waste anymore time on that. It is almost lunchtime and I'm not yet posted. I guess I should have just left it be but it was hard enough to make myself stop after fixing one month. My perfectionism is having a tantrum.
These are the kinds of things that turn posting into a 4+ hour task on average. My goal is to bring that below 2hrs. So frustrating. I'm starting to resent it. I can't let go of the need to post every day tho. But when I go to bed eager to get back to my story only to still be working on the post when I break for lunch it is mega demoralizing.
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday I switched the order and went from tramp to working on getting the Candy Kiss rewrite draft set up in Scrivener working on it as I did so. Which is why Monday's IMWAYR? post didn't go up until close to lunchtime on Tuesday and Tuesday's post didn't go up until just before dinner last night and this Wednesday check-in post is going up just before lunch on Thursday. Which means I still have Thursday's post to do before dinner or let it slide into Friday...
I imagine my JuNoWriMo project will be another structural rewrite but I'll have to give some thought to which WIP.
In light of the breakthrough and insights described in yesterday's Friday Foray in Fiction, I think I need to put starting new stories for the WriMos on Hiatus for awhile--maybe until after the first of next year.
I'm anxious to apply the concepts from Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One and Never Lets Go by Les Edgerton to all of my WIP from the one paragraph storyseeds to the 50K WriMo messes. I want to go through my fiction files taking up to a week each to establish:
- Inciting incident
- Story worthy problem
- Significant surface problems
That includes most, if not all, of the novel chapters as they tend to each have their own story worthy problem with inciting incident and resolution.
That's about all I need to add to the ROW80 related I've already posted since Wednesday's check-in:
I'm HAPPY and I know it Clap your hands!
Friday Forays in Fiction: Personal Breakthrough and Insights
There have been several developments on fronts I discuss in these posts so I'll try to list them briefly.
I've been busy with my Camp NaNo project--Candy Kiss rewrite--to the exclusion of most else for last two days. Have had a major breakthrough and several new insights about me as a writer which I'll talk about in tomorrow's Friday Forays in Fiction post.
The major breakthrough is rooted in having read Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One and Never Lets Go by Les Edgerton Which I reviewed Friday. It's been on my ROW80 reading list for well over a year.
I took a hiatus from the Adderal in January at my request because I wanted to be sure the ADD symptoms were not primarily the result of sleep deprivation. So I worked on getting my sleep schedule in place and eliminating sleep deprivation. In the last month I've had enough success at that while still experiencing the slow-to-wake brain I'm satisfied I need the Adderal for more than a crutch and sleep cheat.
Two days back on it and the difference it makes is huge. Some of the success I've been having with my story rewrite has to be due to it.
This past weekend in one of our coaching sessions my husband told me that I'd graduated from laborer to first level management. He has seen enough evidence that I've 'got' the concepts and have taken on a good deal of self-motivation, flexibility, and ability to bounce back to be trusted to self-manage with light supervision. He thinks that in another month I won't need the formal sessions at all.
Sunday I spent hours going back and forth between reading Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One and Never Lets Go by Les Edgerton and DAYDREAMING STORYWORLD for my Camp NaNo project, the structural rewrite and edit of my short story Blow Me a Candy Kiss.
Edgerton's guidelines have helped me so much I'm thinking of making it a ritual for all the structural rewrites of the dozens of stories I have in the works. Take each story one by one, reading the book again while living inside that story's world and applying each suggestion to that story.
And from now on it would behoove me to apply his principles at the planning stage for each story.
Monday I continued to read the Edgerton book and keep my head in the Candy Kiss storyworld but the reading took place during scattered breaks throughout the morning and afternoon as I once again rearranged my workstation.
Tuesday I gave my new workstation a workout while I continued reading Hooked while marking up a hardcopy of Candy Kiss. I titled yesterday's post Lost in NaNoland but could just have easily called it Lost in Candy Land.
I was exceedingly pleased on both counts--the workstation worked above expectations and I'm now captured by the rewrite process and no longer flailing around in a morass.
|My First Bike|
I overslept Thursday morning and almost missed vid chat and did skip the face/hair/teeth task in order to make it at all which set a sour note and forced me to face one of my demons. Perfectionism. Which raised its ugly head in the feeling that I'd already blown it so I might as well give up for the day and start again the next.
This is something I've fought and seldom won since before kindergarten.
When I was five and trying to earn my first bicycle by proving I was responsible enough to have one we had a chore chart that Mom would put colored stars on for each task. We needed to collect all gold and silver stars for the day's chores to earn a gold star for the day. At the end of the week Dad would put a dollar in the bank for each of the gold star days.
Quite often I'd already earned a blue, green or red star before breakfast was over and would give up for the day. The blue meant task completed and acceptable but we had to be reminded, green task not up to par and red we'd had to be nagged and/or earned the paddle for attitude.
At some point around forth or fifth grade I got it into my head that I needed a perfect week so I would give up for the week after failing Sunday morning. Tho I often allowed a do-over for Monday but a failure on Monday always meant halfhearted efforts at best until the following Sunday morning. I was thirteen before I'd earned my new bike.
The bike in the picture was a hand-me-down from a cousin I got around age 11which I wasn't allowed to use it recreation. Acceptable use after permission granted: to school and back, to piano or swimming lessons and back, to the library and back, to my Aunt Helen's or Aunt Carol's or our church which was next door or across the street from them and back on errands for Mom or for supervision while Mom ran errands, and to the mall across the street on errands for Mom.
It was a fierce struggle Thursday to not fall into that old black hole. But I'd promised Ed in morning vid that I would move on through my day staying on track from that point on. I did OK. I got most of the daily chores done but few were done on time or to specifications. My mood took a dive and I still wasn't posted at the time of our afternoon vid chat.
Shortly after that chat I learned Mom was leaving a day early for her weekend with my brother's family and I was fending for myself for dinner. I took advantage of that to get Thursday's and Friday's posts up before I went to bed but that wasn't until well after midnight and then I overslept, missing morning vid Friday.
I also woke with a crick in my neck Friday that was so severe I had little range of motion in my neck. The one tolerable position was a bowed head with gaze slightly left and slumped shoulders. Attempting to lift my chin or turn to the right caused waves of nausea.
Just by standing or sitting and thus carrying the weight of my head that way the muscle between the neck and right shoulder tensed up increasing the pain. This also threw me off balance and made it hard to see where I was going when moving through the house--my visual impairment is zero peripheral vision.
So much for Friday.
It was good that I'd gotten Friday's post up the night before but disappointing that I was unable to use the extra time to finish putting this room in order as I'd hoped. Instead I spent a lot of time on recreational activities on and off the electronic devices--things that I could do while keeping hot or cold compresses on my neck. I also fudged bedtime and thus the Trazadone schedule for third night in a row.
I slept until ten Saturday morning. Though I have had more range of motion today and the pain never rose to nauseating, I still had to be careful and keep compresses on when possible so I still gravitated toward recreational--reading, games, videos, surfing web.
I did get a lot of STORYWORLD DREAMING in over the last several days but holding the position for typing put too much stress on my neck so writing was limited.
I refuse to kick this habit
- I got up at 5:25 half an hour before my alarm.
- First visit to bathroom includes face/hair/teeth task.
- Next task is getting tea and breakfast and grazing snacks for the day and feeding the cats
- I was sitting down at computer ready for vid chat by 6--15 minutes early.
[It did not occur to me until late yesterday that that would have been the perfect opportunity to add FREEWRITE back into the daily routine as it is best when I've not had occasion for conversation or other encounters with language beforehand. That is what I did today]
- I messaged Ed that I was ready when he was then fiddled with email and played Bejeweled Blitz on my Nexus 7 while waiting.
- Vid chat began at 6:15 and ended at 6:40.
- Fiddled with email for a few minutes before getting on tramp where I played more Bejeweled Blitz, read several pages of Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One and Never Lets Go by Les Edgerton, and watched an episode of Malcom in the Middle. All on my Nexus 7.
[This is how I bribed myself to start getting on the tramp after vid chats in late February. Haven't missed a single day and the committed to 15 minutes grew to over 50]
- I started work on Monday's IMWAYR? post right after tramp.
[Got behind during the weekend HABA project, which may have been the last piece of the puzzle needed to set me up for this perfect day]
- As soon as I finished posting the IMWAYR? link on Joystory's fb fanpage I started work on Tuesday's post re the black jeans and white belt. [Another triumph] It was 10:30 and I had that posted by 11:30.
[Both posts begun and posted before the usual 1PM lunch break thus an extra task proving there is time for at least one more significant brain work task besides posting before lunch and with some more streamlining of tasks there would be room for a third and even a forth. Or the two significant 45+ minutes and several 15 to 30 minute tasks. Depending on which tasks. Especially since I quit for lunch an hour early because of another extra (non-daily) task]
- I got dressed before heading to kitchen which is one of my goals--no more wearing what I slept in all day or sleeping in what I wore all day.
- Then I gave Mom the choice of having lunch inside half an hour or after I'd sorted her supplements and meds for the next 4 weeks which is at least an hour's task if it goes smoothly. She chose waiting so I started the pill sort but was only half done when she said she was hungry so I stopped to fix our trays.
- Ate lunch with mom
- Finished pill sort. [the extra task referred to]
- Cleaned up kitchen.
- Was back at desk by 2:45. Messaged Ed that I was back from lunch but would not be hatching the Google messenger or email so he should call me if I didn't respond inside of 5 minutes. I keep my Blaze smartphone in my pocket ever since he gave it to me for my birthday in November.
[There are many ways I could be using it to streamline tasks, fit more small tasks into various small slots of time throughout the day and jot quick reminders or story thoughts when unable to get to desk. I will be making that a front burner task soon]
- Next I started work on desk area--clutter clearing and rearranging of items from the size of books and papers to the printer and crates and boxes full of files, books and crafts. No furniture this time tho had done a bit of that on Sunday.
[Another extra aka non-daily task]
- Vid chat with Ed began just before five and finished at 5:30.
- Next I cleaned the downstairs litter box. [another extra non-daily]
- Followed by a quick in and out in under 15 minutes shower (no shampoo) and another 15 to dry and dress. [another triumph as showers had been such huge productions taking 45 to 120 minutes from hunting clothes and task misc to getting dressed before the weekend HABA project]
- Tuesday is my regular on duty day so I was back in kitchen to fix dinner by six thirty. Fixed a tray for Mom with a leftover chicken slice with bacon bits from Monday's dinner and cooked baby carrots and had her served by 6:50. Then fixed turkey burgers with carrots for my nephew and me. i ate mine without bread then served Mom and I ice cream--one scoop each.
[Though having responsibility for dinner has become more common lately (two or three besides Tuesday that get randomly added) it is still not a daily task thus an extra]
- Next I read to mom for 30 minutes.
- It was 8:10 when we quit and she headed to dress for bed and I started cleaning the kitchen.
- I was finished in kitchen and changed into PJs by 8:45 and crawling into bed with Nexus 7 to play Bejeweled Blitz until the Trazadone kicked in.
Today I woke at 4:50--65 minutes before the 5:55 alarm. I'm hoping to push wake-up back towards 4:30 but would have to be asleep by 9pm (7.5 hours minimum required for mental, emotional and physical health). 4 would be better but would have to be asleep by 8:30 and that doesn't seem like a reasonable expectation.
The reason I'm aiming for earlier is to give me more slots of time before vid chat for my spiritual path work, freewrite and another brainwork task or two. Ed began the coaching work by suggesting that all but the bare minimum of my projects be put on back burners until we got the structure of my days built. For the first week there was only the daily post and I was struggling to stay on top of it.
It wasn't that I couldn't work on the other projects but I was supposed to have the post done first. I balked and took advantage of having everything on the back burner to choose on the whim of the moment which had a certain benefit in allowing me to see where my heart would take me. I added in a lot of reading, free webinars during which I'd crochet, storyworld dreaming, fiction and misc writing.
Which is great but by not having the post up before lunch I risked not getting it up before dinner which put it off until after reading to Mom which often pushed bedtime well past 10 which shorted me on sleep IF I didn't sleep through the alarm and mis vid chat altogether.
I think I've seen the light. And it is the light at the end of the tunnel.
|Face Hair Teeth|
I was telling my coach aka husband this evening (Sunday) that I'm starting to sense the presence of the new structure to my days in the same way that I sense the structure of the building I'm inside and the neighborhood surrounding me. It feels a bit like being inside a 3D spreadsheet that resembles a jungle gym or monkey bars.
I didn't get much work on my Camp NaNo story done over the weekend, including Friday. I had a counselor appointment Friday and Friday evening Ed gave me my assignment for the weekend. A suggestion I could have vetoed but I knew he was right. He thought I ought to get my HABA organized in the bathroom (face, hair, teeth and shower), the bedroom (folding clothes and accessories) and the office (hanging clothes).
Fumbling around adds extra time to a task and along with extra messes to clean up means less time to write or read or crochet or study or work on my writer's webpage.
Then there was getting ready to go somewhere. Nothing but one frustration after another. It was nearly impossible to put together a whole outfit including accessories without having to spend extra time searching for something. Several somethings. During the mood dive in March I'd been neglecting putting things away after use or after I was handed my clean clothes.
This habit had begun after I'd moved my accessories and folding clothes into the bedroom during one of the room rearrangements in late February but did not get around to establishing their new homes in there before my mood tanked. Then by the time I was feeling better the mess was so bad I couldn't look at it without wanting to crawl into bed.
With Mom away at my brother's this weekend I was able to spread sorting stations over the bed. This allowed me to clear the surfaces where I would be establishing homes for each type of item--socks, pjs, scarves, and so on. I knew I didn't have time to sort and fold and organize each one of these so I chose the most important.
Looking at the large pile of hanging clothes on the bed and thinking of the crowded closet I went with that. I managed to make room for everything and still allow them all to hang free so wrinkles wouldn't form by hanging a hanger on another hanger at the point where the hook meets the slopes. For slacks and Ts I could do a third but for longer shirts and skirts I could only do two.
What does all of this have to do with writing?
Well I've finally learned that with the structure to my days I get to spend more time on reading and writing and by keeping organized and creating rituals for tasks that put them on autopilot I'll be opening up even more time for the projects dear to my heart--reading, writing, research, blogging, fiber arts, study, working on my writer's web site, etc.
You can see in the spreadsheet how I've already quadrupled or better my reading time investment. This is deliberate rewarding for staying on track with the non-negotiable--sleep, meds, food, hygiene and exercise. I bribe myself to get on the tramp or lay down ahead of the need to be asleep with music, reading, a computer game or a TV episode on my Nexus 7.
My project over the next week is to get my daily posts up before lunch so they are not crowding out afternoon activities and keeping me up past my bedtime. Like tonight. This is supposed to be my Saturday post but it is nearly midnight Sunday night as I wrap this up. I'm going to get less than 6 hours of sleep before morning vid chat with Ed. Unless of course I turn my alarm off in my sleep and miss vid altogether which really sours my whole day.
I still need to clean up, tighten up and update the sections below READ CRAFT. Hoped to have it done before I posted this check-in but it is already Thursday afternoon. Sigh.
Which means I still need a Thursday Post before I go to bed.
I featured that Arab Proverb on the accompanying LOLcat with the witty kitty's take in Monday's post and then in Tuesday's post discussed how, thanks to my husband's time-management coaching, I've just experienced the truth of it in an object lesson:
If you haven't been following my ROW80 over the last year, you might wonder what this has to do with ROW80 writing goals.
And if you've read all of the last week's posts but were new to my story, you might wonder why a 50 something woman needs to have tasks assigned to her like a tweener.
Some women might even see my submitting to my husband's guidance as an offence to a modern woman's social position.
Well I'm going to answer those questions in tomorrow's post. (I will try to remember to come back and link it right here) Or you can check out the Lifequake section below the check-in section for context.
The short answer is: I tried it my way since I left my parent's household at age 21. It didn't work.
Meanwhile there have already been several small successes since we reinstated the coaching on Friday that are adding up to something more than the sum of their parts. More on that tomorrow.
Have you figured out what all this has to do with ROW80 writing goals yet?
The short answer is that these things: time management, self care, and habit formation need to be in place to support the writing goals.
Especially when the challenges I face include: vision impairment, ADD, mood disorder, living in a chaotic household where 85 to 90 percent of the chaos is not under my control because it is not mine to control.
I'm going to be sharing this journey throughout the next round both in check-ins and other posts. I have high hopes that by the time Round 3 begins the habits and routines to support my passion will be in place so that productivity will begin to soar.
Why do I pose more questions than answers here with the teasers about tomorrow's post? Because most of the answers were composed right here as I wrote this check-in which was on its way to a mile long. Besides most of what I was sharing I wanted to also share outside the ROW80 fence and didn't want to cover the same territory twice.
It's an extra bonus that I now have the hardest part of tomorrows post done--the first draft. Yay! Not only not behind I'm ahead!
but never give up
The gist all that I cut out was whining about the nose dive my mood took. Deeper than in a long time. All the way into the Marianas Trench of my psyche as I put it in one or more of the posts in the last two weeks. It was demoralizing after the way things were looking up for the March 9th check-in.
I am not going to say much more about it here as I've already said it all in these three posts:
Get Up and Move In which I share a motivational video I found while on the prowl for aids to regain and optimize motivation, energy and optimism after having just been through another very rough patch with my mood disorder. It also featured the LOLcat that accompanies this check-in which I made to reflect the theme of the video. I thought the ROW80 crowd would really enjoy it.
Habits and Hypnosis In which I share an hilarious animated GIF of a kitten being hypnotized by a shinny object on a string and relate my first experience of a successful hypnosis and it's fall out.
Report Card In which I share an LOLcat of a stern bespectacled tabby that I made to reflect the theme of the post about the list of priorities my husband helped me make and then assess my performance over the last three months so that I could acknowledge where I stood in order to see clearly the path forward and submit to the necessary discipline.
This was how we kicked off the renewal of his coaching me (at my request) on management of time, self and projects that we began last spring and dropped as the holiday season kicked into gear where he works last fall.
I had been keeping most things on this theme inside the check-in posts which were primarily looked at by a supportive community but I'm going to start putting it out there for the general public as well. I hope for this to make my whole blog as honest and sincere and real as the ROW80 posts.
There will be fewer filler posts to hide behind whenever the primary thing on my mind is touching on these themes of self-management, mood-disorder, lifequake, dreams and goals. Who knows, maybe it will end up being a story tracking the trajectory of my progress as many small triumphs accumulate into one big one as I reach one of my dream goals.
GOALS AND HABITS:
HABITS AND STRUCTURE THAT SUPPORTS WRITING:
Ed says these have to be in place and on autopilot to support everything else. So that's my goal for Round 2--that by the end the routines are in place and the habits formed for:
- - TIME MANAGEMENT -- establish a structure to my days that supports the following five and makes room for the writing goals
- - SLEEP
- - MEDS
- - HYGIENE
- + NUTRITION
- + EXERCISE
MONTH BY MONTH:
This time my husband has helped me create my goals list and establish the priorities.
My Brain on Story
see moar kittehs
An edit pass to create a printable rewrite draft for marking up with page breaks at end of scenes. The primary fixes will be formatting, changing the indented paragraph and no line spaces to the WWW friendly form with no indents and blank lines between paragraphs.Also increasing space between lines inside paragraphs to provide room for notations. Print hardcopy.[The computer and printer's need marital therapy.]
- Print hardcopy of my beta reader's marked up copy
- An edit pass on the hard copy noting any issues as listed in edit passes below but primarily for structural and expansion and breaking up overlong paragraphs
- A structural rewrite that incorporates suggestions of my one beta reader and includes expansion of scenes, addition of scenes and extensive rewriting of many paragraphs. [This, the biggest task, has begun and will be ongoing at least through the
- An edit pass for grammar and punctuation, word choice and word overuse and consistency of story facts.
- Read aloud noting any issues with how it sounds, listening for sour notes and tongue twisters and out-of-character voices in dialog, rewriting to fix
- An edit pass for spelling and typos and formatting consistency, including reformatting paragraphs to remove the extra space between lines.
- As time permits throughout, write new material for future Greg and Iris stories as encounters in Candy Kiss trigger memories or spark new ideas. [Also begun and will continue throughout the month]
That list is an example of a step in project management. Naming the project and breaking it down into discrete tasks (mini-projects inside the umbrella project) and whenever those tasks contain tasks that contain mini-projects you repeat until there is nothing that can be broken into smaller units of action.
- Convert Candy Kiss to epub
- An edit pass of epub for formatting issues created by the conversion
- Convert to mobi
- An edit pass of mobi for formatting issues created by the conversion
- Upload epub and mobi to Smashwords
- Upload mobi to Amazon to convert to Kindle
- Another edit pass of the Kindle for formatting issues
Will decide in mid-may which project to target
ONGOING FICTION FILES TASKS:
[the grey highlight means back burner. I'm free to tackle any when time permits but they don't have commitment status and the agreed upon priorities with my coach must be on track first]
- work at cleaning up the Wrimo messes
- target a second finished short story for the self publish route: How Does Your Garden Grow?
- work on cleaning up the WhizFolder for the NaNo Novel, Wailing Womb [task list similar to that for FOS Storyworld below]
- work on the FOS storyworld:
- -- add notes from DAYDREAM STORYWORLD notebook to FOS Worksheet WhizFolder as well as the specific story's Whiz
- -- add events to timeline
- -- add character sketches, rambles, and metadata
- -- move or copy metadata from each story's Whiz into the FOS Worksheet Whiz
- -- add to FOS mind map in Xmind
- -- clean up notes, research, reference, links, etc in each story's Whiz, adding any relevant to multiple stories to FOS Worksheet Whiz
- -- clarify specific research needs
- -- edit existing scenes and add new
- -- target one of the POV character's stories to focus on [When Home Is Where the Horror Is AKA Crystal's story]
- -- break out Aeon Timeline and start inputting info from the text timeline
- -- breakout Smart Draw and experiment with creating story boards and plot flow charts
OTHER WRITING TASKS
- Daily blog post -- goal is to break habit of starting work on post in late afternoon as it tends to not go up before dinner which means I have to return to it after 8pm after reading to Mom.
This puts one high priority in conflict with another because I'm supposed to take my Traz and be in bed by 9. Then I get shorted on sleep and still have Trazadone in my system until late morning which makes the morning brain work less productive.
I also miss about half of the morning vid chats with Ed. Altogether it sounds a sour note across the beginning of my day and its hard to recover.
The post needs to go live before lunch!
- AWAI Copywriting course work: working the course involves reading, writing and research as well as videos, web seminars, and teleconference recordings and networking. This has been on hiatus since my mood dive in early March. It's time to start easing back into it.
- morning freewrite and/or journaling
- work on cleaning up my poetry Whiz and get poems composed on LOLs and in blog posts and wherever else they are scattered collected into it. Print hard copies of any that have none.
- keep on top of the upcoming blog tour reviews
- tackle the backlog of book reviews for ARCs
- tackle the backlog of book reviews for books owned and borrowed finished 2012-2013
- tackle the backlog of book reviews for finished ROW80 READ CRAFT books
For Round 1 2014 I removed all but five of the books the ever growing list. I intend to totally abandon the others but I'm targeting the five in this list for focus until finished. As a book comes off I'll add another.
As Round 2 2014 begins all five of the same books are still here. It is my goal to have all but AWAI finished by end of round. And AWAI should be well on its way.
The Fiction Writer's Handbook by Shelly Lowenkopf Review for blog tour Haven't finished it yet tho so it will remain in the list. This is more like a reference book tho. Organized by literary terms that hyperlink to every term referenced in its explanation that has its own entry.
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Writing Erotic Romance by Alison Kent. Found on my shelves while packing books. I won this in a drawing during the Sweating for Sven writing challenge in 2007. It made me blush and I kept it hidden in the recesses of my bookshelves but I think I've gotten over that.
AWAI Copywriting Course materials
The Marshall Plan by Evan Marshal
A Cheap and Easy Guide to Self-publishing eBooks by Tom Hua read this online
Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Leher
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg Finished this fall of 2012 and wrote an overview of it for that check-in along with my musings on how to apply what I learned.. This is where I got the most help with learning how to recognize a habit, determine if it is desirable and if so maximize it but if not change it.
Writing in General and the Short Story in Particular by Rust Hills onetime fiction editor at Esquire. A tiny little paperback published in the mid 70s. I pulled this off my own shelf, having found it while packing/unpacking my books. Don't remember how it became mine.
Write Good or Die! edited by Scott Nicholson (a collection of essays by inde authors. many of them self-published)
Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One and Never Lets Go by Les Edgerton ROW80 reading list
|Ed and I April 2nd|
5 minutes before leaving
The most important fact affecting ROW80 goals is that my 5 week visit at my Mom's begun in early January has been extended indefinitely. It has been a huge disruption in itself not counting all the disruptions of life, thought and emotion behind the whys and wherefores.
As 2014 Round 1 begins we're pushing 8 months since leaving Phoenix with the last load by February 11 it will be 9 months. There has been no further visits. He's living with his folks in the same tiny room we shared for ten years but we both agreed that environment would be unhealthy for me and our relationship. So we're waiting for him to find a place before I come back for a visit bringing a van load of household miscellany and Merlin.
Before I can go home for good my meds need to be stabilized and healthcare assured. I have to be separated from Ed in order to qualify for health care. So much for those wascally wabbits and their so-called concern for the sanctity of marriage.
Meanwhile we make do with phone calls, text chats, emails and one or two vid chats each day.
One of her concerns about leaving me there for a whole week was the tenuous nature of my ability to stay on my med schedule, sleep schedule and food and water intake schedule without outside monitoring. That is one of the repercussions of an unmanaged mood-disorder.
In December I transferred all my task alarms to my smartphone, a birthday present from Ed in November, and no longer use this timer except for one off tasks.
There have been enough improvements in my ability to function that I've been able to commit to making and serving lunch for me and Mom every day since August. I have gained more ground each month. Adding minor and major commitments to self and family. I've just [Feb 3 2014] taken on care of one of the two litter boxes. I've been on duty with Mom from lunch to bedtime most Tuesdays since fall and oven fix dinner at least one other time during the week. Significantly, except for Tuesday, most evening dinner preps are sprung on me in the one to four hours before time to start which would have flummoxed me into paralysis a year ago.
One of the fallouts from the stabilized sleep schedule has been an increase in those intense, creative, colorful and story-like dreams that have often contributed to what I call the storyseeds for my fiction. This augers well for the future work with my fiction files--both editing and new writing. And is a sign the depression is lifting or at least being managed well.
The early-bird schedule I switched to last August specifies the pre-lunch hours for brain work--reading, writing, blogging, research, netbook maintenance, daydreaming story world and the afternoon for active/social tasks like exercise, sorting/organizing, chores, hygiene, family interaction, vid or text chats with Ed. But so far I've nearly always gravitated back to the brainwork after lunch and once engaged in a task it is hard to break away for another. So many things get neglected. Which often leads to fudging on sleep... Slippery slope.
The two most significant things that contributed to the healthier sleep patterns were the melatonin I began using in late summer and the the full spectrum light therapy lamp I bought during the Cyber Monday sales. This gives me hope that I won't have to be on the meds forever. There are still several more things I can add to my Natural Remedies bag. Like maintaining consistency in the sleep schedule (still pulling too many 20 to 30 hour days and too many under 7.5 hour sleeps) exercise, meditation weight loss, water intake, detoxing from sugar and food additives and diet changes for starters. Except for the sleep schedule most of these I've been dabbling at in the last six months but I need to be committed and consistent with those things I've experienced as helping.
|My Nature Bright Sun Touch Plus|
w/ high lux light and air ionizer
Meanwhile I'm trying to learn patience with myself and flexibility. One of the new skills I'm honing is the ability to analyse what is working and what isn't and then apply a likely fix and observe what does and doesn't result. I'm trying to keep a vision of what success looks like in my head so that I'm always aiming for it.
WORKSTATION WOES AND WOOTSThe evolution of the writing and workout room:
|Workstation and |
Indoor Workout Space
|Late January 2013|
Tramp set on end after
2 falls and a close call
Making room for 1st van load
The 1999 World Book set
and the Britannica Great Books set
bought from the library in 2005
And writing related misc.
|Looks more like a nest|
Primary work and play and mope
station May 11-24 2013
|Cubby desk May 25 2013|
replace exercise ball
with office chair
Almost good but hard
to get in and out and no room
to scoot or swivel chair
Standing desk above tramp
Good for writing, reading ebooks,
text and vid chat, videos and music
All while getting a gentle workout
Or vigorous with videos and music.
|Bradley Desk Inspector|
Major August 2013 Makeover
Cleared Mom's Desk
Finally room to spread
out books and paper
I keep meaning to add pics of the most significant tweaks to accommodate the Aspire and now there is the January 2014 whole room makeover pics to add. But not this time.
Once he knocked my netbook off the desk. I had an extreme moment of panic before I got it picked up and checked over.
|Merlin nesting with me|
My hope that once Merlin was allowed to join the family the two of them would entertain each other came true. After a few weeks of talking to each other through the laundry room door they had a brief encounter when I brought Merlin up on his leash on our way out for his yard exploration they touched noses and nobody hissed. Bradley did raise one paw over Merlin's head and held it there until Merlin ducked his head and slunk away.
A couple weeks after that Merlin was paroled and they've acted buddies ever since with Bradley obsessed with grooming Merlin who had been lax with that due to his poor health. They do occasionally fight over the spots of sun on the living room carpet.
But for over a week after Merlin got paroled I hung out on the tramp again so he could hang out with me.