Tuesday, December 30, 2014

New Year, new approaches.

As the New Year approaches, I've already adopted some new attitudes and habits. I'm reading and learning rather voraciously every single day. I'm doing crazy stuff to keep my head in my novel, like having Twitter conversations with my protagonist. I'm starting to exercise, which I'm hoping I eventually stop loathing.

Here are the three things I'm doing, productivity-wise, to keep myself on track with my big picture:

Maintaining a Done List. I started the Done List at the end of this year, and I love keeping it. All I do is print a calendar, and in the box for each day, I write the significant things I did that day. 

For example, I go to work 5 days a week, so I won’t write “Went to work”—that’s too ordinary. But if I got a written compliment from a company executive regarding one of my projects, or I finished and was satisfied with a major project, I’ll note that. I’ll also make a note of any learning I completed (for example, completing a module of the social media course I’m taking, or reading a helpful ebook about creative habits) and any relevant writing I did (novel-writing and revising, freelance articles, short stories, and poems all count!).

Essentially, this provides me with motivation and a sense of accomplishment. I’m less likely to beat myself up for not doing enough when I can look back on a written record of what I’ve done. 

Giving myself measurable half-year (not full-year) goals. In general, my goals include making progress with my writing and losing those last few pounds. I’m setting specific goals to work on January through June, and then I’ll evaluate my progress at the end of June and switch up my goals where necessary and to build upon milestones I achieved.

Writing and social media:
Write 1 short story or poem each month.
Read and re-outline first Emerson book.
Finish social media management course.
Begin revising first Emerson book (May/June, after anticipated move).

Weight loss:
Begin exercising 5 days a week.
Keep tracking food.
Aim to lose 1-2 pounds each month, for a total loss of 6-12 pounds over 6 months. (I am already in the “healthy weight” category for my height, so I only need to lose a little bit, and am comfortable making slow progress.)

Focus on writing, but not completely. In addition to getting serious about writing, it’s good for me to take on other activities that can boost creativity and happiness (all of which leads to me writing better). Those activities include fun in the kitchen (learning how to make macarons, learning how to make quiche), being crafty (learning jewelry-making basics, stepping up my paper-crafting game), reading more often (I’m aiming to read for a bit each night before bed), and reconnecting with friends.

What are you doing to kick ass in the New Year?  :)

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Looking forward...and getting out of my own way

I have only one goal for the coming year:

To get out of my own damn way.

In 2014, I accomplished a lot. But not enough. (Never enough.)

Sometimes I can’t do more. But sometimes I can. And this is the year I'll capitalize on that “can” a little more.
I have to learn how to shake off my moods more. I need to remember that writing something well can even fix some of these moods.

I have to set aside writing time every single day. And during that time, I have to actually get up when I’m supposed to and be productive in a writerly way. If I’m not writing, I’m outlining, researching, strategizing, revising, editing, or doing marketing-related things. I can’t be Sephoraing, emailing, iTunesing, or dozing off. Writing time means doing writing activities, period.

I have to kick fear to the curb. (Would Emerson ever let fear stop her? I don’t think so.) Fear of being a bad writer, or fear of being a good writer—it doesn’t matter. All that matters is that I am a writer, and that means I write (and edit, and revise…etc.). I can always fix bad writing, or take a few minutes to wrap my head around it and become comfortable with it if it’s really good. But I can’t—and I won’t—be afraid of my own words or thoughts any longer.

I have to trust my instincts, just like Emerson does. She learned it from me, and now I have to re-learn it from her.

Although this seems counterintuitive to my goals, I have to be okay with downtime. Sometimes I need it. But I should only take it when I need it. Not when I’m just feeling a little lazy and I want a little downtime. I don’t actually need it then—instead, I need direction. Even if it’s just accomplishing one small task, that’ll be better than accomplishing squat.

I have to remember how much I want this.

I have to remember why I want this.

I have to remember what happens if I don’t accomplish my goals.

And I can’t let anyone, or anything—including, and especially, myself—bring me down so far that I can’t do what I need to do.

I can’t, and I won’t.

I will not be my own roadblock.

Instead, I’ll be my own green light.

And now…it’s go time.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

2014 accomplishments

Today I read a blog post recommending looking back and making a list of your accomplishments for the year--and at first, I scoffed when I read it. I'm still revising and don't yet have a queryable manuscript, I didn't meet any of my weirder goals (like learning to read tarot cards, or successfully making macarons), and not much has changed this year. Right?


Okay, I'm still not ready to be published, I only know 1/5 of the tarot deck, and I haven't even attempted macarons. But when I really thought about it, I actually accomplished a lot. Check it out:

  • Finished the first draft of the second book in the Flame (Emerson Carter) series

  • Lost 15 pounds—and have kept them off

  • Got a promotion at work

  • Made gluten-free cupcakes and croutons for the first time

  • Flew on a plane (first time since 2007) for a week-long trip to Florida

  • Met one of my all-time favorite pitchers, AJ Burnett, at the Phillies Phestival

  • Took actions that directly helped improve the health of an injured sparrow

  • Was named a “Very Important Blogger” by Glutino, a gluten-free company whose products I love, and consistently enjoy writing reviews of their goodies

  • Accepted my first ongoing freelance writing gig

  • Came in second in my fantasy baseball league

  • Successfully learned how to make all sorts of crafty things, like greeting cards, tea wreaths, hand-painted glassware, and necklaces, and have given them to friends and family who love them too

  • Wrote 14 different newsletters, and completed several wellness workshops and a variety of other health-oriented projects, at work

Looking back at that list makes me smile. 2014, you really weren't so bad. And I...well, I was damn good. ;)