Saturday, April 12, 2014

153rd ROW80 Check-In

The writing challenge that
 knows you have a life
Before this round (2014 R2), my goals were all time investment and are detailed on the  ROW80 page   [That strike through will remain until I can clean up and update that page.]  In its place I've created a section called GOALS AND HABITS where my current commitments are detailed.

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.


Note: I broke this up into themed sections to make updating easier:  

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.
__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

With my husband's coaching in time, self and project management, I'm slowly recovering from the massive setback in March when my mood dove into the Marianas Trench of my psyche.  The last two check-ins of Round 1 provide the explanation and the plan for recovery so I left them in place when I cleared the last round's check-ins.


Face Hair Teeth
April 12 -- The self and time management project is going leaps and bounds.  7 of the last 10 days I've had my 7.5 or better sleeps.  That's a huge accomplishment.

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).

Nearly every morning I was complaining about something going wrong while doing my face, hair and teeth before morning vid chat--fumbling for things on the counter, knocking things into the sink or causing a domino effect among the items on the counter.  Showers were equally frustrating with fumbling for things with soap in my eye or water beating my face or the floor outside the tub and the bench my bottles set on.

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.

April 9 -- I've already put hours of work into cleaning up and updating this wash and wear post so I'm going to try to keep this minimal.  Besides I've already covered all the info in a series of posts over the last two weeks.  There is a roundup of those posts in my Round 2 Goals post along with an explanation of the self manage goals now a part of ROW80.

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.

March 26 -- Dwell not upon thy weariness, thy strength shall be according to the measure of thy desire. - Arab Proverb

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.

Tomorrow's post will describe my way and why I now think it would never work. And why I practically begged Ed to continue helping me like he did last spring and summer.

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
March 23 -- As you can see from the spreadsheet screenshot above, I've lost a lot of ground in the last couple of weeks.  I have worked on this post every check-in since the last one I successfully posted on March 9th but each time failed to get it ready before the next check-in was only a day away so I held off.  But then the spreadsheet scrreenshot had to be redone and the check-in section rewritten.  I finally just got rid of all of the commentary intended for check-ins that didn't happen and started fresh.

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.



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 
The reason for the +/- to the left of each is due to my having copy/pasted from my post about the priority evaluation list we created during our first coaching session.


This time my husband has helped me create my goals list and establish the priorities.

My Brain on Story
see moar kittehs 
April Camp NaNo

A structural rewrite and several edit passes for Blow Me a Candy Kiss to prep for self pub:
  • 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 second third week]
  • 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.

May Self-Pub Project

  • 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

June JuNoWriMo

Will decide in mid-may which project to target

[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
  • 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


Currently Reading

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.

What to Do When There's Too Much to Do by Laura Stack   my todo lists are way overloaded even for someone with a reasonably quakeless life.
Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One and Never Lets Go by Les Edgerton
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

Recently Read:

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) 


Ed and I April 2nd
5 minutes before leaving
The event I'm calling the lifequake hit me in late January and for the most part of most days I'm accommodating myself to the new realities shaking out from it.  The details are covered in ROW80 #69 check-in. and  this Sunday Serenity and in It's Like This and The Eyes Have It so I won't keep reiterating the story in these check-ins.

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.

Between the last week of February and the first week of May 2013 my sister and I made several round trips to my place in Phoenix to pack up my stuff and bring it back to Longview.  It was supposed to be only for my books, crafts and summer clothes for an extended stay until medical insurance for me was back in place.  But in March our landlord decided he needed to sell the trailer and set May 15 as our move-by date.  So I made two more trips and my sister made a forth the first week in May, leaving me behind while she took a load back and returning for the forth load.

Merlin, our cat, came back with me in May.  During our trip in early April my sister took him to the vet and the following week he had surgery to remove rotten teeth and fix his eyelids so his lashes would stop scratching his eyes.  He looks oriental now.  The pic is from several years ago when he was still healthy.  He has started to regain the weight he lost while he was sick winter of 2012-1013.

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.


A significant development in self-management was the timer my sister bought me just before she left me alone with Ed the first week of May.  It has two timers, a clock and a stop-watch function.

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.

My Nature Bright Sun Touch Plus
w/ high lux light and air ionizer
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. 

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.

The evolution of the writing and workout room:

Workstation and
Indoor Workout Space
January 2013
Late January 2013
Tramp set on end after
2 falls and a close call

March 2013
Making room for 1st van load

Reference Books
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

June 2013
Almost good but hard
to get in and out and no room
to scoot or swivel chair

April-August 2013
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

In late August it finally came together: a workable workstation.  The story and pics about it are in these Sunday'sMonday's and Tuesday's posts.  My productivity ratio increased from 1 in 5 days to 1 in 2 or better.  But a couple weeks after setting this up I got my Aspire and being significantly larger than the netbook it didn't work well in this setup and major tweaking commenced.

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.

The family cat, Bradley has been a pill as I rearranged the two rooms.  He mountain climbs the stuff.  He picks up small things and carries them off.  Twice it was my reading glasses that I wear over my prescription glasses for close work.  He sits on top of the very thing I need to pick up.

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
Merlin had to stay locked in the laundry room for nearly three months until we were sure he was free of contagion or parasites.

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.

1 tell me a story:

Anonymous,  4/14/2014 7:50 PM  

I'm amazed at the number of things you've been getting accomplished. You really have a lot on your plate.

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