Thursday, September 18, 2014

Derailed!

So much going on at the start of december!  School started for the kids, and right away there was things we hadn't bought during our back to school shopping.  Shoes that just weren't fitting right, shorts that were too short for doing yoga...projects already assigned...after school tryouts and sports practices!

Needless to say, I haven't gotten much writing done in the last few weeks.  I knew I wouldn't, but it's kind of disappointing because I'd been making some really good progress and had a lot of momentum.  On the other hand, I know now that I can pick the momentum back up fairly easily.

If only the heat would pump through to my office!!!  Brrrr.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Word Count Dashboard App - review

A while back I posted about this little app for apple computers.  At the time, I'd only tried it out, but for the last week and a half, I've been using it in my daily writing routine, and I thought I'd share my thoughts.  

First of all, I've found it really pushes me to write just a little bit more to reach little goals I have in my head.  Let's say I've been writing off and on over the day (when real life allows) and it's getting late.  I'm tired and tempted to just stop for the night.  My word count total is 23707, and I'm pretty sure that puts the days word count above the daily goal (lets say 1000.)  But I look at my dashboard and think "wouldn't it be nice to push just a little further and get to 24000?"  Yes it's possible to get this effect just by looking at your word count on the word processor, but somehow seeing the number on the peg board just makes it more obvious you pushed that little bit further.

Another example is when we went to Wonderland the other day.  I knew my writing count would be down, but I was determined to at least get a silver star.  The difference would only be about 150 words, but I pushed through my exhaustion and got my silver star.  It may not seem like much, but every little bit helps.

Theres a few things I wish the program let me do, but it's just because I'm lazy (and not good at math)  I sort of wish there was a spot on the cork board for "What your total word count goal for the day is."  By that I mean you start the day with 23876 words and in order to reach your goal by the set date, the app says you need to write 954 words a day.  Now, I'm sure your daily goal isn't going to be 954 words, you would probably be aiming for something higher, but lets say you had a bad day.  The kids were sick, the washing machine conked out and your husband NEEDED his favourite shirt for work the next day so you had to take a load to the laundromat.  You're tired and are willing to settle for the bare minimum to keep yourself on track for finishing your goal.  Now my math skills are bad enough when I'm wide awake, but put me in zombie state and I can't count to five.  Yes I could pull out a scrap of paper and work it out, or even break out the calculator (app on my phone or laptop.) This is what I mean by me being lazy.  The point of apps like this are to make things easier for the user, and for me, it would be nice to be able to not have to do the math...but that's just me.

Another little issue I have, and again, it's not a big one, is you can't have more than one cork board open at a time.  At least I haven't figured out how to do it.  If you are like me, you often work on more than one project at a time.  I'm sure this is true of lots of us (especially students working on essays.)  In order to open up a second window, you have to close the first one.  It's just a small annoyance, but I'm also sure in the long run its good to have it this way.  My desktop is already cluttered with dozens of open windows.  Having several cork boards open would only add to the mess.

What I do love about it (and this goes back to my math issues) is how you enter your daily writing sessions.  You don't have to do the math to figure out how many words you wrote each day.  You enter in the new word count total and it keeps a nice little chart of your daily counts. 

If you are the type of person who likes to log your day like a time clock, you can enter more than one session a day.  You can even put in notes to say "This was a morning session" or "Did a lot of running around to day" So you can look back and say "huh, all my morning sessions were really productive compared to my afternoon and evening ones." or "Ah, thats why my word count was bad that day, it wasn't because I was being lazy." But if you were being lazy, put that in too.  So you can see how this would be a good learning tool to help you maximize your writing efforts and help you see what works best for you.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Thought I'd Jinxed Myself

After posting that I'd had some success getting at least some writing done every day, I ended up having one of those days where nothing goes right.  There's a million things that need to be done, like doing laundry and hanging it out since the sun finally showed itself after a week of rain and thunder storms.    I call these chaos days.

I had managed two days of over a thousand words and was feeling pretty good about myself, then I hit a chaos day.  Like said, it had rained for pretty much a whole week, and the laundry was piling up.  The dog, a 1 year old blue heeler, had been lacking in his daily exercise because he doesn't like going on wet grass to play fetch.  (In my defence I took him out four times on the most rainy day, got drenched, and tried to get him to play.) He was wired!  The things that dog will destroy when you don't run him to exhaustion is unbelievable.  Since I hadn't gone to the store recently, there weren't any snacks.  I had two options, try to write with the kids asking to make them something every two minutes, or suck it up and bake.  I chose to bake (Hey, I like cookies too!)

Anyway, I only wrote 500 words, and boy was I bummed.

But the next two days I got back to over 1K.  It may not seem like much, and I hope to do better once school starts, but it's something...and I'm back to feeling good again...

Then this morning the hubby decides we should all go to Canada's Wonderland.  At least I wasn't standing in the rain throwing a slobbery ball all day.  There's always a silver lining...

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Gearing up for fall writing

Summer is usually a write off as far as writing goes...pun intended.  We are usually out and about, hiking, swimming, camping etc, and I always go with great intentions.  I take a notebook and sit on a picnic table while the kids and hubby swim.  I faithfully haul one on camping trips and plan to sit in the tent for some quiet time...and it never happens.  I even tell myself I'll write in the car while my husband drives but of course that always ends in headaches and crabbiness.

This year has been a cold, rainy summer.  We've gone to the beach 3 times all summer when usually we go four times a week.  We've only camped a total of four nights, when last summer we managed almost twenty.  And let's be honest, as the wife/mother, its usually up to me to cook...and for some reason it always seems like I get one meal cleaned up and it's time to start the next one.

But with money tight, and working out of the home not a very feasible option for me right now, it's kind of time to buckle down.  I need to stop procrastinating and coming up with excuses.

So...my goal is to plug away doing as much as I can before the kids go back to school.   I don't want to cut into their last few weeks of fun time too much, but when we are stuck at home, there's only a few reason why I can't spend most of the day writing.  (The dog is one big reason...he's a destructive little brat of a puppy and I have to work hard to exhaust him so I can get some quiet time.)

Once fall hits, however, it's time to start thinking of writing as a job rather than a hobby I can come back to whenever I feel like it.

Whew!  I actually feel good about it.  I've written about 1500 a day for the last few days, and it feels awesome.  Do I plan to do Nano?  Not sure, but maybe I'll give it another chance.  I'm fairly sure Hubby has several projects around the house that can keep him occupied in the mornings before he goes to work.  Crossing my fingers!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

One Day at a Time

It's been over a year since my epic laziness ended with me losing almost all my unfinished stories.  I don't think I've written more than 1000 words in that time.  It's a daunting prospect, trying to basically start from scratch.

It's been 2 years since I submitted a story, and in that time, publishers have closed, others have changed their policies and again, it seems like I'm starting out all over again trying to find my footing.

The thought of promoting any book I sell in the future seems like such a terrifying prospect too.  When I first published, e-publishing was fairly new.  The options for promoting your book were pretty basic and even then I felt out of my element.  Start an author website, a blog, and join in the chats on the publisher's yahoo group.  Then there was Myspace, other chats, it kept growing until people were making book trailers, buying ad space in magazines, making their own Wikipedia pages and I can barely remember what else.

So here I sit, determined to get back to work, planting my butt in my chair (for 5 minutes at a time until my puppy begins his next round of "lets bark at mommy until she starts screaming like a banshee and chases me around" game.) and I am completely overwhelmed.  My author website has been down for ages and my own skills in redoing it are sadly lacking.  I have this unbelievable wealth of marketing ideas being thrown my way, all of which scares the crap out of me.  People are saying you should have a business plan in effect, a brand, facebook is bad/facebook is good!  Cue frustrated screams.

There's a big loud voice in my head saying "why the heck do you want to do this?" Arg!

But the truth is, until I actually get words on paper again, none of the rest of it matters.  Sure it's good to think ahead, but letting myself give up before I even start just because it's scary is pretty stupid.  It was terrifying when I sent that very first submission out.  The first time I participated in a release party chat I was that person hiding in the corner, having no idea what to say to these people.  What if I said something stupid?  Half the time, I felt like I was three conversations behind as everything moved at the speed of light.

So, for now, I take it slow, write as much as I can each day and do a little bit of research/website work each day as well.  One day at a time.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

I'm so stupid!

Ugh!  I made a hugely stupid mistake.  When I transferred all my writing files onto a thumb drive to transfer them to the new laptop, I kept putting it off...and now the stupid drive isn't working...

Lesson learned...I've got a few of my half completed stories still...ones that I'd been working on with my iPad, so it's not totally all gone, but yeah, almost everything I've written is lost.


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Apps for Writers

It's been a while since I've blogged about interesting apps for writers. I have a few that I'd like to talk about. First of all is Word Count Dashboard. ($1.99) This simple app isn't available for mobile devices, only for computers. The concept is a basic cork board type thing with sticky notes on it. You enter in the name of your story (or project because it would be completely useful for articles, essays, any kind of writing actually) and your goals. How many words do you intend for this to be, and when do you want it done by? It automatically calculates how many words a day you need to write to achieve that goal. By clicking on tab "my writing sessions" you can enter in each day's word count, and it tells you how this effects your total word count, the percentage of the story that's complete, and the words left to reach your goal. Also, you get stars just like in elementary school. Say your goal works out to writing 2000 words a day. If you manage the 2000 words, you get a gold star, if you write 1000 you get a silver star, and if you write 500 you get a bronze star. It's not as tangible a reward as a nice piece of chocolate cake, but it's less fattening. Another app I looked at, but didn't buy (since it's $29.99 and is pretty similar to another app I have) is called Published! Manuscript Manager It has a word processing feature, but my interest was caught by the other aspects. Like Story Tracker, it lets you enter in submission details for stories, articles etc you've sent out to publishers. The Income and Expense tab lets you enter in royalty checks, as well as any costs you might have incurred, and lets you enter in what article/story you were working on when you spent the money. Example, the postage you spent to mail a story to a magazine, or the coffee you bought while sitting at the cafe writing your novel. There are also places to enter information on potential agents and publishers. If anyone else has tried these apps, I'd love to hear your thoughts.