Tag Archives: routines

New Year’s Resolution Time! {2016 edition}

OH HEY. Long time, no see, blogging world! I started last year by writing down a list of my resolutions for the new year and at that time I promised a check in of sorts around the end of it. So this post is going to be both addressing last year’s resolutions and how well I did in keeping them and putting up some new resolutions. LET’S SEE HOW I DID.

Last year’s resolutions:
1. submit writing more places: I actually did really well at this in the first few months of the year. Before 2015, my poetry hadn’t seen much more than the inside of my filing cabinet, and now it’s been published in a few excellent journals online. (you’ll eventually be able to see a list of places my poetry appears on the MY POETRY page here, once my ass gets around to it). I wish I’d kept this up for the whole year, but alas, I did not.
2. keep up with this blog: once again, after the first few months, this one went to the wayside (as you might’ve been able to deduce from the complete lack of activity on here).
3. read 100 books: I don’t even want to talk about how hard I failed here. I not only didn’t make it to the goal, but I read less than I’ve read any other year since I started listing my yearly books read (nearly 10 years ago, before I was on goodreads). My grand total was 21. I WEEP.
4. Eat healthier: didn’t take this one seriously until the end of the year, when I’d had it with feeling like total shit all the time, some of which could be attributed to my total shit diet (who knew? lol) and now I do a bit better with it. Not much to report, I’m no health guru by a long fucking shot, but hey, sometimes I snack on fruit instead of cupcakes so I don’t think I failed utterly here : )
5. Get dressed every day: nope. Nope. noooope.

Now, to be fair, 2015 was astonishingly successful in some ways that never showed up in my resolutions. I 1: finished the first draft of one novel and wrote an entire first draft of another novel, 2- began driving on the highway. This is a big breakthrough for me, as I’ve always had a lot of anxiety surrounding driving and highway driving in particular. 3- summoned the courage to participate in open mics for poetry and a couple book promotion events. These things are SUCH A MAJOR WIN for me.

Now, instead of going straight into listing my 2016 resolutions with bright-eyed and bushy-tailed vigor, I wanted to take a moment to pay tribute to something I ordered completely on impulse this year along with a new wall and desk calendar, which is THIS BOOK (pictured below and available for purchase here  by Lisa Jacobs )

IMG_1085

I waffled about whether to buy this for a while before getting it, but MAN am I glad I did. It starts off with a section for review of the past year, filled with prompt questions, then moves on to plans for the new year, and then the final section is set up like a monthly planner in order to keep track of the stated goals, complete with a midyear review section and quarterly reflections. The questions are so pertinent to my craft too, which I was a little surprised at- I don’t know why, though, writing is after all a ‘creative business’. It’s so well-organized and thorough that it helped me put my thoughts in order in a way I’ve never done before. I always thought ‘sure, I know what I want to get out of this year’, but this book really is effective in peeling back vague ambitions to reveal concrete goals (also, may I just say that when the author uses her own workbook every year, you know you’ve struck gold). If you work at anything creative with any real seriousness and struggle due to being completely in charge of your own schedule/fitting that around the rest of your life, this is for you!! (I wasn’t paid to advertise this book, I’m just hella enthusiastic, guys.)

Okay, anyway. One of the things the Your Best Year 2016 book prompted me to do was to actually write out not only the things I failed at last year, but WHY it was that I failed and examine how not to make the same mistakes again.

For example, when I planned to submit more writing, I ultimately failed due to giving myself too much of a structured schedule to follow for submissions/hours spent working in general. When an event would come up in my life and I missed a day, everything went to hell because of this bizarre brand of perfectionism. This has been a character flaw of mine for a long time, something I’m trying to erase this year. When I planned to keep up with this blog, I did really great with weekly posts, until I got over-enthusiastic and decided I wanted to try and post 3 times a week instead of one. Don’t remember that? That’s because it didn’t fucking work. I tried to do too much and the stress on my mind burnt me out before I got too far at all. When I planned to read 100 books, I failed because I wasn’t being serious about placing restrictions on any other type of media that would get in the way of enjoying reading. Once I got down to the root of the reasons I missed the mark here, I was able to make some clearer 2016 resolutions.

So, without further ado, here they are, my new and improved resolutions for 2016:

  1. Get the rough draft of a book I’ve had laying around edited and acquire an agent. – The biggest, most daunting goal, probably, and the one I spent the most time mapping in Your Best Year. As a self-published author, I’ve had little experience with traditional publishing, but I want to give it a shot for the first book in the rough trilogy I finished last year. The rough draft of the first book has been finished for nearly a good four years now and this has always been something I wanted to ‘try doing eventually’ but never initiated. Game on!
  2. Limit time spent online unless it’s for work purposes – this resolution helps out my “read 100 books” goodreads challenge goal, which I’m giving another go-around this year. I know if I successfully limit my time wasted doing god-knows-what-I-do to eat 500,000 hours a year online, I will read more books in my spare time as a direct result (I’m not a TV person). It will also kill off my biggest distraction to getting writing/editing/you name it done. Your Best Year gave me the excellent idea of giving myself a little chunk of time faffing on twitter, instagram, youtube, wherever as a reward if I spend a bigger chunk of time devoted to working and keeping away from checking my phone.
  3. Show up at office as many days as possible- This one’s exciting mostly because for the first time I have a real office space, separate from the place I sleep, and even five days into the year, it’s really helping. I’m not going to give myself a stringent, impossible-to-follow schedule. Instead I’m going to endeavor to 1- wake up at a reasonable time. I do my best work earlier in the day, and 2- show up for however many hours or tasks I’ve allotted that day. Even if it’s a day I have to be at my other, paying job, I want to get in maybe an hour in the morning.
  4. Get a chapbook of poems together- The original resolution was going to be something more vague like “get back into writing fresh poetry”, but I came out with this one instead. I’ve always wanted to pull a collection of poetry together, and a chapbook is a great place to start. Over the past few months, I’ve been attending poetry open mics and I’ve been honored to meet and hear and be inspired by so many amazing fellow poets, and yet… I still feel blocked when it comes to my own writing. If I resolve to have a chapbook out this year, I will HAVE to write new things.

That’s about everything! Well, there are more small goals, but these are the major writing-related ones at least! If you’ve stuck with me this far, thanks, I wish I had a cookie to give you because you really deserve one. What’ve you got planned for 2016? Do you enjoy planning resolutions out or do you like to take it as it comes? I’d be interested to know!
Until next week!

{C}

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Writing Routines (Feat. a 10 question survey!)

First of all, on a completely unrelated note, I now have a facebook page. If anyone reading this has Facebook, ‘liking’ me would mean the world (there is no way to say that and not come off needy, believe me, I’ve tried. Damn fb lingo). (page is here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/CA-Allen/416143661895571

Now for the real topic of this post. For as long as I’ve been reading writer’s magazines- possibly longer, even- I’ve been FASCINATED by other writers’ writing processes. Not all the deep, “where do your ideas come from?” crap that we all hate to hear, but the mundane little things like knowing one person writes from their basement from the hours of 6 to 8 after work or that another writer writes entire stories on napkins before typing it up. The music you listen to (or don’t), the little goals you set, the chair or the floor you sit on, the notebooks or computers you use…why is all this so interesting to me? Beats me. I think that as a writer myself I’m just amazed at all the different ways we have of doing the same thing. Reading about the rituals and routines of others, no matter how mundane or bizarre, inspires me. Inspires me how? I don’t know, because I’m usually not the type to branch out and try anything new for myself. Though I’m often tempted.

So I thought I’d do up a survey of some simple questions about writing in the selfish hopes of getting some answers I will thoroughly love reading. So, whatever it is you do, I would LOVE to know. Do you:

  1. Listen to music? (if so, what type?)
  2. Handwrite or type? (and in/on what)
  3. have a best time of day to write new material?
  4. outline/make character sketches?
  5. have a set schedule for working or do you work mostly when motivated?
  6. have a ‘place’ you need to be to write? Where?
  7. carry ideas in notebooks, your head, or both?
  8. Any activities you like to do before or during writing that you feel help the process along?
  9. show your writing to anyone as you go?
  10. make revisions as you go or at the end? How many times on average do you think you revise a project before you consider it ready?

Please answer in the comments! I’ll start by giving my own answers:

  1. I can’t concentrate with any kind of music going on. I wish I could so I could make awesome playlists, and there are songs I like to listen to because they remind me of scenes or characters, but not DURING writing time. Sometimes when I write poetry I listen to music without words, new agey or classical stuff, but that’s about it.
  2. Type novels. Handwrite poetry and then type it up later. Often I don’t look at it for a while in the space between.
  3. Morning, or more accurately, whenever I wake up. RIGHT when I wake up.
  4. I build up the world and characters in my head as I go but it’s rare that I put anything on paper, and *very* rare that I know where I’m going with my story when I begin.
  5. Set schedule. If I don’t, the fear of writing will take over and I’ll never get anything done. Sad but true.
  6. Not really. My room is where I normally write, but sometimes I’ll switch it up to another part of the house or (on rare occasions) the library or a coffee shop. I would really love to have my own little ‘office space’ devoted ENTIRELY to the pursuit of creative endeavors, but thus far I do not, so.
  7. My head. Sometimes I’ll write lines of poetry or ideas for parts of novels or characters down on my iphone in ‘notes’, but that’s pretty rare.
  8. COFFEE. Coffee. The first thing I do waking up, every single day: make coffee. The second: usually something writing related. So the two are intertwined for me. I can totally start drinking coffee if I’m not writing, but I can’t start writing if I don’t have coffee.
  9. I’ve heard it works really well for some people but for me it’s just the death knell over whatever I thought I was creating. It used to be really tempting but I learned from trial and error. Show someone my work before it’s done? Yeah, it’s never getting finished.
  10. I wait until I’m done to make revisions, unless they’re so obnoxious I can’t ignore them. It usually doesn’t take me more than two rereads/edits to feel like I’m done. Not that the book is perfect by any means, just that I’m satisfied that I did my best at the time and it’s time to move on.

coffeeee sunrise-over-green-hills  silence schedule

(my ‘essentials’. Yeah, all my schedules have hands and feet.)

Do it, do it, DOOO IT!!! If you read this post, or even look at it, please answer at least a few of these questions, whichever ones strike your fancy (or all, if you’re feeling ambitious!) If you don’t, I’ll know 😉

I hope everyone’s well and I’ll see you next week!!

~C

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