Nancy: Clearing the Decks

As I mentioned in my last post of 2018, New Year New Writer – Zen Edition, in 2019, I’m working on balance. Balance between extreme fitness goals and creature comforts, online life and IRL friendships, work and play. One of the things I need to do to before I can even think about balance, though, is whittle down my to-do list du jours.

Some people might suggest not writing a to-do list every day. To those people I would say What is wrong with you? And when I’d recovered from my shock, I’d politely point out our brains must work very differently, and I’d spend the rest of the day wondering how anyone functions without a to-do list.

Yeah, not writing the list in the first place is not going to be a solution for me.

That leaves completing items and so I can cross them off my list. In the case of the first month of 2019, that involved clearing the decks of projects and other detritus so I will be free of them for the rest of the year.

Regarding writing projects, that means moving each manuscript to the next phase of its existence. This includes:

  • One Kiss from Ruin. January: FINALLY finished the final final revision of One Kiss from Ruin and moved it into the final editing/proofreading phase in January (okay, the beginning of February, but as of today, it’s with the editor!). February: Move to launch phase: Fix errors, format book with cover, distribute to review readers/launch team, and release it to the world!
  • When We Were Friends, previously known as Take the Money and Run. January: Finished final tweaks, renamed it with a marketing title, rewrote the query letter blurb, and identified wish-list agents. February: Move to marketing phase: Submit to editors, await feedback, submit pages/full manuscripts as requested, prepare to repeat ad infinitum.
  • Two Scandals Are Better Than One. January: Quick fixes and “low-hanging fruit” edit; then let it rest. February: Move to revision phase: Complete first major revision and submit to beta readers.
  • Three Husbands and a Lover. January: After writing the first several chapters, updated the timeline, book blueprint, and scene outline; completed first third of the book. February: Complete second third of the book.

That’s it for the writing/revising/editing part of my work. There’s also marketing to grow my newsletter, drive sales, and most importantly, connect with readers. I’m still testing different platforms, ads, and approaches. So for that, nothing I can really cross off my list. Just keep on keepin’ on.

And for my final task on the career front, I spent the last part of January going through 2018 expenses and evaluating which were helpful investments in my career and which were not. I’ve identified some creativity and marketing groups, apps, and websites (like image download sites) I joined that were helpful at one time but no longer work for me, and one or two that never really worked for me at all. I’m canceling subscriptions, dropping FB groups, and deleting apps that don’t “spark joy” or won’t serve the needs of my career in 2019.

As for other areas of my life, I’m continuing to clean up my eating habits (read: cut out sugar!) and figure out which workouts I can do and how hard I can do them without re-injuring myself. And I have a few dates planned for February – celebrations of Valentine’s Day, Galentine’s Day, and my husband’s birthday (Feb 29th, which doesn’t even exist this year, but my husband refuses to wait four years between celebrations).

How’s by you? Did you make any lists and experience the joy of crossing items off them? Any big plans for February or the rest of the year?

7 thoughts on “Nancy: Clearing the Decks

  1. I make a to-do list sometimes, which always starts with “make to-do list,” which then enables me to cross something off the list before I start anything else. Right now, I’m stuck on the start of my new project. I work every day, and I’m in a phase where I write 500 words and delete 600. I’m waiting for my editor to return comments on Phoebe 3, and then I’ll start revisions on those three books. And I’m putzing around with new covers for all my books, as you all know, to your tedium. None of those things, alas, needs a to-do list. Their magnitude and the infinity of their detail sit on my shoulder every day.

    Congratulations on getting so much done!

    • Sometimes just being in waiting mode makes it hard to write new words. That’s one of the reasons I HAD to get some of the detail work for other books out of the way. They were sapping all the time and attention I needed for the new pages. Getting through the first third of the new WIP was like pulling teeth. Here’s hoping the shrinking to-do lists for the other books frees up some mental space so the next third goes better.

      Good luck on your edits, and godspeed with your covers. I absolutely feel your pain on that.

  2. I have a very bad habit of wanting to do all the things, and being paralyzed about which one to choose. Writing down my list allows me to choose an order (I can number them later, or prioritize on the fly) and it helps me stop thinking about the stuff undone — it’s on the list, after all! I try very hard to keep the list to seven. When I finish those, I can always make another list.

    I don’t get such a thrill checking them off, although it is satisfying at the end of a long day to see most of them crossed off — kind of an after party!

    These days, though, the only lists I’ve been making are grocery lists. It seems that the chores are right in front of me, and I have to plow through them before I can dig out any hidden chores to tackle. I probably should make a list — but with only one or two items on it. Seven would definitely overwhelm me on a weekday, and honestly, be too much even on the weekend right now. (Part of the reason is that since October, I’ve added “exercise” on my unwritten daily to-do list, and it’s been helping, even if it doesn’t get done every day, and since December, I’ve been reviewing and refreshing my Chinese characters, which has been helpful, too. The app I use also keeps track of how many days in a row I’ve done it, which also is motivational at the end of the day. But these things take about an hour or a little more out of my day, and something has to go. Seems like it’s the writing and to some extent, the ukulele. But maybe after my daughter’s tests, I’ll have a little more free time/will power to get back to things.)

    • Oh, see, I get a thrill checking off each item. A little adrenaline hit. Which could mean I have a problem? Not one I’m going to give up soon, though. And I definitely put my workouts on the to-do list. It also helps me track what I’ll be doing each day, now that I’m mixing things up a bit post-injury.

      You have a lot of balls in the air, so do not write them down if a list only stresses you more. Getting past your daughter’s tests should definitely help!

      • (-: It’s not a problem if you aren’t checking off the items of the -oholics check list (-:.

        Thanks! You are probably right about the stresses. I have enjoyed doing it in the past, and I hope to enjoy it again.

  3. I’ve been a big fan of making to-do lists and changing the date at the top of the list. Presently I’m on a list originally dated January 24. I’m running out of space to add new dates. Sigh.

    • I have found that using an electronic format (I use Notes on my phone), I can change the due date as needed without running out of space. And I am a master at cutting and pasting things from one day into the next. Sometimes repeatedly. Pretty sure I have at least a few things I’ve been carrying forward since January as well! 🙂

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