Update On: A New Way of Keeping Tabs, Reader Edition

Can you believe it’s nearly the end of September already? My August dragged its feet, but right now it feels like I blinked and the solstice has hurried itself closer. Sunday night I submitted my final exam for my current course, so right now I am exhilarating in the warm swell of post-exam lassitude. I’m also fighting a bug; I apologize for any apparent lack of coherency today.

Since we’re three-fourths-and-a-bit of the way through the year, I thought it was about time I wrote an update on my previous post, A New Way of Keeping Tabs: Things in My Face, Reader Edition. To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure my wall tracker is helping me accomplish my reading goal.

When it comes to writing, my tracker is more about helping me stay on top of my volume goal. When I use it—by which I mean when I don’t fall behind with the actual tracking—I never miss a week of getting my words in. I’m not finding a similar sense of accomplishment carrying over to my reading.

For instance, I just finished my 27th book of the year. In the grand scheme of things, that’s a decent amount read. In my little world, that’s pathetic. The main issue keeping me from getting more read completed is my lack of making it a priority. I don’t make time to read, plain and simple. I squeeze it in when I can, which isn’t enough. The exact same issue is tied to my writing; however, because I have deadlines, I get more writing done.

Yes, I’m terribly hard on myself. And I have a lot on my plate right now. But I have so many unread books—all of which are sitting directly behind me, accusingly—and I want to read all of them because they’re going to be amazing. I’m annoyed with myself because I can’t seem to make reading important. I live to read, so what is my problem?

I don’t have an answer, but I do know beating myself up about it is probably not going to help in the long run. Still. The numbers sitting on my tracker disappoint me; perhaps I need to channel that disappointment into action instead of letting it get me down. I have three and half-ish months to catch up. Let’s see if I can do it.

Have you challenged yourself to read more this year? How are you doing?

The 5 Year Plan

I’m taking up a random topic today: The 5 Year Plan. Have you ever made one? I haven’t, which is odd because I’m very goal oriented. That said, I’m good at setting goals and making pretty lists and trackers—and then getting exactly nowhere.

I don’t intend to end up nowhere. I merely have a tendency to think that setting the goals and scratching them off the list when I get to them will somehow magically translate to progress. Well, more progress than it realistically does.

Back to the 5 Year Plan. I turned to Uncle Google because while I can extrapolate what a 5 Year Plan entails, I haven’t the foggiest idea how to put it all together. I ended up on Wiki How since the site provided the kind of detail I needed. I then moulded their 15 steps into phrasing and a format I prefer. I did all that on Friday, and my insane weekend has kept me from doing more than printing off my document.

Despite not moving forward with it yet, I want to share the parts that jumped out at me while I was throwing my document together:

  • The variety of goals,
  • The hierarchy of organizing your goals into most important to less important,
  • The step by step breakdown of goals so each part is attainable and leads somewhere,
  • The formatting freedom,
  • The flexibility.

I might be counting my eggs a little early but I am really excited to make my plan! I am hoping it will help me attain all of my writing goals that much quicker—because my current pace is a snails crawl. A better personal and professional situation would also be awesome attainments.

I’ll ask again: Have you ever created a 5 Year Plan? Did it work for you? Do you have any suggestions?

 

*Featured image sourced here.

A New Way of Keeping Tabs: Things in My Face, Reader Edition

Early this month, I shared a post on Anxiety Ink about my newest means of keeping tabs on my writing goals. I created an ugly chart and I mark on it every single day whether I write fiction words or not. There’s no better way of keeping an eye on myself than with a bright blue item I can’t escape.

One month in, it’s really working for me. My return to reality week has been the hardest because I caught some bug on the plane home and I was just not present in my life. I nearly didn’t make my “write at least 3 days a week” goal that week, but writing on my chart made me realize that. So I opened my WIP and got some words down ASAP so I didn’t disappoint myself.

As I mentioned on Anxiety Ink, part of the reason I made the chart was because last year by the end of the week when I was finally able to sit down at my desk and see my progress, it was way too late to catch up. I was behind before I even realized it because I wasn’t keeping track where I could easily see my progress, or lack thereof.

One of my goals this year, again, is to read at least 68 books. Early on, I’m coming to understand that the same reason I failed at hitting my writing goals last year is keeping me from staying on top of my reading goals this year: I don’t know I’m behind until it’s too late.

So, I’ve commandeered a small corner of my 6 Month Plan and devoted it to tracking my reading. Every time I finish a book, I write down a number–my last read was the third one I’ve finished so a three went down in roman numerals. I also decided this would be a great chance to learn more roman numerals…mostly because I’m weird.

6 Month Plan (2)

I keep track of all the books I read on Goodreads, but I don’t pay enough attention. Goodreads is distracting so it’s easy to ignore my progress. My chart, which is pretty bare-bones, makes me so much more accountable to myself and makes shirking that much more difficult.

Have you taken steps to improve your productivity this year?

Happy 2017 Everyone!

Are you as relieved as I am that 2017 is finally here? Since November I’ve been itching for a fresh start. At my day job, where I’ve been for 3 years, our new fiscal year starts on November 1st so this odd space between then and January 1st, actual New Years, has a way of making me feel like I’m in limbo.

Well, I’m in limbo no more!

Fireworks by bayasaa via Flickr

Fireworks by bayasaa via Flickr

On Friday my 2017 Goals post will be live on Anxiety Ink. I don’t want to recap them all here, but I do want to focus on a few I think pertain well to E.V. Writes. And I didn’t go into any detail over there.

Read a minimum of 68 books over the year –I used to be able to read over 80 books a year, and that includes the 4 years I attended university. My reading habits while working are abysmal and it makes me really sad. This is one I desperately want to focus on, not only because reading makes me happy, but because I like to focus on reading, and the art of reading, here and I need inspiration!

Read outside my comfort zone: add plays and poetry. –I miss the literary variation assigned reading lists brought into my life. I need to branch out of my comfort zone.

Make time for hobbies –I can’t remember the last time I devoted any real time to one of my hobbies. Doing something once a year does not a hobby make. Plus, like reading, my other hobbies make me happy, ergo, doing more hobbies will make me happier! The hobbies I want to get back into this year include drawing and painting, photography (something I want to learn about this year, aside from simply taking pictures), hiking, and gardening.

Relax during vacation! –so this doesn’t exactly tie into the blog except that I’m really excited to share my post-vacation stuff with you all come February and that I have a new appreciation for recharging my batteries. I’ve always been go-go-go 24/7 and 2016 made it apparent that I am not capable of keeping up with that. During high school and university, you get two months and four months off, respectively, in order to recharge for the following year. Yeah, I don’t get that at the day job. I have 3 to 4 weeks doled out through the whole year. That’s a big difference. And I have to start taking advantage of the time I do get off and actually take it off. That means no writing chores as well as no day job. This will lead to better creative-productivity!

What are you most excited to tackle in 2017?

National Novel Writing Month: Completed

Way back in August I discussed National Novel Writing Month and my three month plan leading up to November. I had all these grandiose ideas to be well-prepped and roaring to go come the 1st.

Yeah, that kind of flew out the window. I had great intentions, but life happened, as it does.

However, I did manage some minor planning at the end of October –I do recall having a mini-panic attack on the 31st because there was far more I needed to know than I had anticipated– and made myself dive into my WIP (going forward called RA1) despite my anxiety.

You know what? It absolutely paid off. On November 27th I validated and came out with 52,803 words. What’s more, I finished RA1 and got well into its sequel RA2.

I (re)learned a lot about myself over the course of the month, mainly that when I set my mind to something I can tackle it as long as I set myself up for success. I need a plan, targets, and a goal to keep me going otherwise I flounder in indecision. But if I have those three things I can really accomplish anything. I’d forgotten I was so stubborn, and I’m elated I rediscovered that about myself. I needed the morale boost.

This was my plan of attack and the outcome.

This was my plan of attack and the outcome.

I (re)learned a ton about writing in general too, I covered that on Anxiety Ink though.

I’m still flying high on the tails of my success and honestly I never want to come down. But it’s been 9 days since I even opened the RA2 file on my computer and I’m terrified that might become the trend again. It’s one thing to tell everyone you’re participating in NaNo over November so you’re going to be largely unavailable and distracted. It’s not feasible over the rest of the year, and not only because attaining 50,000 words is too much for me to tackle on top of work and other life responsibilities.NaNo Win Selfie

I need to find a happy medium. I’m nervous but I do well with targets and I know I can hack it if I really set my sights on it.

I got more out of National Novel Writing Month than I ever anticipated. I can’t wait to try again next year and to keep my fiction writing momentum going until that time comes around. As awesome as it was to validate, get my hooray from the website, and print out my winner’s certificate, the big picture win for my fiction means the world to me.

I completed a freaking manuscript!! Yes it has holes and needs hours of editing but my story has a beginning, middle, and end!