Nancy: Boom and Bust

Several weeks ago, I found myself in a familiar place. I was coming off a big day-job project, which had included long hours every day for the last couple of weeks to complete it. I hadn’t been able to touch my writing during that time and for weeks before that, because even when I wasn’t working quite as many hours, I was expending all my mental energy on that other job. But now that I and my team had completed that project and submitted it to the customer, I was able to reclaim my life, including my writing time. “All shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well,” right?

Um, no.

When last I’d communed with my writing, I’d been on a hot streak (despite that pesky novella that I’ve struggled to revise). I was writing for long hours and wracking up word counts, knowing all the while it couldn’t last. I’d signed a consulting contract. A company was going to write me a monthly check; it stood to reason at some point they’d want me to do something to earn that money. Then I got a call saying a project that was supposed to start in October was actually starting six weeks early. I went cold turkey on my writing. Turns out, by the time I finally got back to it, it had gone cold turkey on me. I had one novella and one full-length novel in need of revision, and the first act of a second full-length novel all set in the same story world. I also had the first half of my women’s fiction story waiting for completion. But when I sat down at the computer, I couldn’t get back into any of those story worlds. I’m not going to lie – some panic set in. After all, it’s only a matter of time before I get the next call about the next day-job project, and then I’ll have to go cold turkey on writing again. Lather, rinse, repeat. Continue reading

Nancy: August Accountability Thread

jumping-hurdles

It’s the first Monday of August, which means it’s time for the accountability thread! Okay, okay, you caught me. It’s Tuesday. Life intervened and I couldn’t make it by the blog on Monday, but that doesn’t mean we get out of sharing our July progress and posting our August goals. Even though some of us (ahem) might really like to skip that part about sharing July progress, or lack thereof.

First, a reminder about how this works. The first Monday of each month, we’ll invite you to share your plans and goals for the upcoming month. (Okay, yes, I keep saying Monday and today is Tuesday, but just for this month we’ll call in Monday-ish. Monday-adjacent. You get the idea.) As this is a writing blog, we’re dying to know about your writing goals, but feel free to share other life goals as well. Learning origami, taking up daily meditation, or perfecting your crow pose? Tell us what you hope to achieve by August 31st, 2017. Then be sure to come back the first Monday in September to share your progress!

I’ll go first, but only because I have no choice. Fair warning: it’s not pretty, people. Continue reading

Jeanne: July Progress Report

Last month I started a series on my project to self-publish a trilogy of paranormal romances. I posted a very aggressive project plan that showed the first book releasing in May, 2018. You may recall that the early part of the plan looked something like this (previously completed tasks removed for simplicity):

Task Description Start Date End Date % Complete
One-Time Tasks      
General Marketing and Branding Tasks      
Get a website built 4/13/2017 6/12/2017 75%
Receive draft site 6/12/2017
Go live with site 8/1/2017
Send out first newsletter 9/1/2017
Plan blog tour
Book-specific tasks
Book 1—The Demon Always Wins
Submit manuscript to editor (milestone) 4/1/2017 Done
Developmental edit process 4/1/2017 6/19/2017 75%
Make revisions from editor feedback 6/20/2017 7/20/2017

I’m happy to report some solid progress on these tasks. Continue reading

Nancy: July Accountability Thread

It’s the first Monday of July, and you know what that means! It’s time to set up our July accountability thread.

The first Monday of each month, we’ll invite you to share your plans and goals for the upcoming month. As this is a writing blog, of course there will be lots of focus on creative and writing goals, but feel free to share other important life goals as well. Training for a 5k, learning to crochet, reading a book a day? Tell us about whatever it is you hope to achieve by July 31st, 2017.

Be sure to come back the first Monday in August to report your progress! And now, it’s time to ‘fess up about how it went in June. I had very mixed results. Continue reading

Jeanne: Planning for Success

Sometime next spring, I plan to self-publish a trilogy of paranormal romances. The Eight Ladies have graciously agreed to let me do a monthly post about the self-publishing process and what I learn along the way.

There are a lot of things to learn:

  • How to build a brand
  • How to find and hire editors, proofreaders and formatters
  • How to find the right cover designer
  • How to promote and market my books
  • And just the nuts and bolts of how to physically get the book onto Amazon (and other distributors, if you choose to go wide).

With so much work to do, I’m going to need a project plan. Fortunately, in my past life I managed a lot of software development projects, so that’s something I already know how to do. Continue reading

Nancy: First Monday Accountability Thread

“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.” ~ Henry Ford

Welcome to the First Monday Accountability Thread, a new feature here on the 8LW blog. The first Monday of each month, we’ll invite you to share your plans and goals for the upcoming month. As this is a writing blog, of course there will be lots of focus on creative and writing goals, but feel free to share other important life goals as well. Training for a 5k, learning to crochet, reading a book a day? Tell us about whatever it is you hope to achieve by June 30, 2017.

You can pop into the comments on this post any time throughout the month to share your progress or ask for encouragement. And be sure to come back the first Monday in July to report your progress!

To get the ball rolling, here are my top goals for the month.

1) Submit Act I of Take the Money and Run to my writing coach, address her feedback, and prepare to write Act II (in July).

2) Finish the second ginormous revision (yes, that’s a technical term) of my Victorian Romance novella (which got a major overhaul based on excellent critique feedback as well as lessons learned in my Story Genius master class) and submit to final beta readers.

3) Read two books per week, every week.

4) Sign up for ongoing Krav Maga classes to work toward my yellow belt.

See how easy that was? Now it’s your turn. Tell us your plans for June 2017. How will you keep your eyes on your goals and avoid those pesky obstacles this month?

Nancy: Can Creativity Be Scheduled?

Week 1 of My 12-Week Year Creativity Schedule. I might have gotten a little carried away…Note that I did not schedule transition time between major activities. Or  lunch time.

There many, many schools of thought regarding creativity, grasshopper. Looking specifically at writing, there are pantsers and plotters, planners and wingers, outline enthusiasts, outline eschewers, thumbnail sketch makers, muse-seeking free spirits, spreadsheet weirdos (raises hand). It seems creativity refuses to be contained. You can’t put creativity in a corner!

But can you put creativity in a time block on a calendar?

Ever willing to be a cautionary tale, I threw myself on the sword of research with an intense productivity system, called the 12-Week Year, so I can report my findings. For more information about this system and how to implement it, there are books, courses, and seminars. Boiling it down for you, the idea is based on data that suggest companies (and individual employees), when aligning to their annual plans, see a burst of productivity and forward progress during the last three months of their fiscal years. Why? Continue reading