Monday, June 14, 2010

Time to Wrap Up. And I Don't Mean In a Tortilla.

teh fiesta tuckr me tak hat      off nao me can haz siesta?

I have easily put in 50 hours on blog improvement tasks since 8AM Friday morning. And that was after a good 20 hours of prep between the wee hours of Wednesday and the wee hours of Friday. I spent that prep time preparing a task list with every thing I could think of that needed doing. That list wasn't just for Bloggiesta weekend goals but for the long haul. I surprised myself by how long the list got and so quickly too. Apparently I'd been keeping that list in my head for months and years. Nothing on it was something I had never considered before I learned of the Bloggiesta Tuesday night.

Turns out keeping that list in my head instead of putting it in visible and manipulateable form had been a major cause of the sense of overwhelm I felt every time I began to think about beginning and improvement project. When I first started listing I typed as fast as I could taking no care to keep ideas in any order. I just got the tasks listed. Then after they started coming slower, I started moving items into related groups and after that I prioritized it and then I marked tasks that I felt I lacked knowledge or understanding to complete. That was the state it was in when I posted it.

Then during the weekend I continued to add to the original list and move things around, regroup them, clarify them etc. And all through the weekend I pasted links next to items on the list with resources specific to the task. I got those links while surfing participants blogs and following the links I found there whether in the Bloggiesta posts or in their older posts or in their sidebars.

One of the tasks on my list was to organize my note ap to make keeping track of all these tasks and the new info I anticipated accumulating. I didn't stop to organize it first though. I let the way the information came guide me into how best to store it. I've blogged many times before about WhizFolders Pro and the various ways I use it. It is an application for note taking that allows you to move blocks of info around inside the file using nested topics. It uses RTF and allows for object embedding, colored text and highlights, and live links both within the documents, among the Whiz files, to any ap, program or file on my computer and URLs. I use Whiz exclusively for all note taking, journaling and rough drafts and for creating e-books of public domain classics. I also use it for bookmarking the web, for creating task lists and organizing projects of all kinds.

Relevant to my current blog revamp project, because I am focused for now on the book blogging aspects, there are three main Whiz files I needed to tend to this weekend--Joystory, Reading Journal and Book Reviews. You can see portions of all three of them in the image below. In a few weeks I hope to put a similar focus on the creative writing aspects. At least by-the end of summer when it is time to start prepping for NaNoWriMo.

I can adjust the window sizes of each file so I can have portions of several visible at once when i wish to hop back forth or I can have any one file full screen like this:

There you see the section of the Joystory Whiz concerned with Reading Challenges. The two panes are also adjustable. There are nearly 200 topics in this file so that is not even ten percent of them showing there. The topic list on the left can be color coded and the ones marked in the royal blue there are the four challenges that I've already joined. The rest of them are lined up and ready for take-off. That was THE major project I accomplished on Saturday. Chasing down those challenges, collecting images, links and rules and making tentative book lists. All of that collected in the Joystory Whiz. The culmination of that project was to create the Reading Challenge Portal post which was Saturday's post and will be the portal to my status on the challenges.

In the Reading Journal Whiz I keep records of all my library due dates, bibliography slips for each item checked out, wish lists, recommended reading lists, quotes, reading notes, and because I check out so many from the library also DVD, which I may eventually move into their own Whiz. This file has nearly 600 topics and is growing by tens and twenties every week. Because I didn't start keeping my bib slip records this way until about a year ago, one of the projects I worked on this weekend was to get bib slip topics made for as many books which I finished in the year or two previous to last June that came to my mind, looking them up in the library card catalog and copy/pasting the bib info. Then I made a duplicate of the topic to put in the Book Review Whiz. One of the tasks I added to my comprehensive task list was to start making bib slips in this file for all the books I own.

The idea is that with those bib slip topics created and me using the file regularly I will keep seeing certain titles and be inspired to begin a review and said inspiration won't be dampened by not having a quick and easy place to dump info and musings and begin drafts. There are nearly 200 topics in Book Review Whiz and only a handful of those are child topics so that means there are nearly that many reviews. Some 20 have been posted already. The rest are in various stages from blank beneath title/author to awaiting final edit or a needed link or cover image..

One of the things I made a point of all weekend was to study the blogs I visited and to harvest things off them. I don't mean proprietary or copyrighted things. I mean I took notice of every banner, button, link, gadget, widget, promo etc, etc and if it looked like something I might want or I just wanted to look into in more depth later, I put the link in the appropriate topic in the appropriate Whiz and also the link to the page I had seen it on.

One thing I regret is not spending more time leaving comments and participating in the mini-challenges. I had intended to but as often happens with me, I got hyperfocused on one set of tasks and barely took time to sleep or eat until Sunday evening when we had company over and I couldn't (nor did I want to) stay holed up in my room.

One major task I had hoped to accomplish by Sunday evening was a template change to one with more than two columns. One task I did complete was to hunt down the perfect free template. One that can have up to 8 columns (with 3 in the footer). But I was too intimidated to make the transfer without help and Ed was supposed to help me Sunday afternoon but then we had the company and he discovered he had to leave for work at six this morning so the template change will have to wait a bit. But because I knew this template change was in the works I chose not to put too much effort into adding or subtracting or rearranging stuff on the current template. So there is little visible on the blog to show for all the work I've done besides the three (now four) posts themselves. (Yeah, yesterday's Sunday Serenity post, tho a bit of an aside, was relevant to the weekend's work)

I participated in one mini-challenge only, Write Your To Do List, at the 2010 Blog Improvement Challenge, which by the way I'll be going back to again and again as I continue to work chip away at my list. Here's hoping I can start marking things as done faster than I add to things to it pretty soon. There were other accomplishments for the project I meant to give a mention here but I'm starting to fade which means I'm probably boring the sombreros off anyone who even managed to read this far.

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