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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

What's Up Wednesday: October 22

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly blog hop created by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk to help writers stay in touch. Saw the first frost of the season this morning and snow over the weekend, though thankfully it didn't stick. I know winter is going to hit us hard this year, but I'd rather it wait until after Halloween at the very least.


What I'm Reading: 
Uh. I'm determined to move on from Blood and pick a book off my shelf today. I just haven't decided if I want to go for an old favorite, the next book in Game of Thrones, or something new that I've had for a while but haven't read yet.

What I'm Writing: 
After a week's hiatus, I'm back to working on LP, though with a word count goal of only 250 a day again because my to do lists are getting lengthy and I need to focus on other things. It's up to 55k and I'm starting to get the feeling it's going to end up being closer to 80k now all told.

What Works for Me: 
Reward system. I usually use episodes of whatever TV show I'm working my way through at the moment. This week is Stargate SG-1, season six.  If I finish a certain number of tasks on my list, then I get an episode. Short tasks (like writing this post) mean that I have to do more than one. Longer tasks (like reading a chapter for class) get a reward by themselves. Some days, when I'm easily distracted and work takes a backseat to binging episodes, I have to finish all of the tasks on my list before I can watch. It all depends on the mood I'm in, exactly how much work I have to get done, and whether the episodes have cliffhangers.

What Else I'm Up To: 
Grad school applications. November is roaring up like a train and I was not prepared for that. I got all my letter of recommendation stuff in order on Monday and now I'm working on my materials. Hoping to send in my first application as early as Friday. It's a horribly nerve-wracking process. 

Have a great week, everyone!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

What's Up Wednesday - October 15

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly blog hop created by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk to help writers stay in touch. I can't stop listening to Fall Out Boy's new song, "Immortals." It's actually getting a little worrying.


What I'm Reading: 
Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan (last book in Heroes of Olympus which is the sequel to Percy Jackson and the Olympians) arrived Friday. I started it around two and read it in one unstoppable spree of nine hours. I considered slowing down, actually savoring it since it's the last book, but it just wasn't possible. I wasn't going to sleep that night without finishing. This could not have been a more perfect ending to the series. I don't think I have ever loved a conclusion this much, and that's including Deathly Hallows. I haven't actually started reading anything else since.

What I'm Writing: 
Still LP, though I've been taking this week off writing.

What Works for Me: 
To do lists. I have multiple sets of them in an Excel spreadsheet so that I can stay organized. There's one for the day, one for grad school stuff, one for homework, one for things to get done that week, and another for things that I need to do but don't have a set time frame.  It helps me to make sure that I don't forget to do anything and makes me feel accomplished when I delete things from the list.

What Else I've Been Up To: 
It's been an insane week. I just got a job as a tutor for a stats class that I took last year, overseeing a study group. I started yesterday and it's been a steep learning curve. The class I'm tutoring for has a different professor and let's just say she has different methods from the one I had. I'll be doing a lot of stats review this weekend.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

What's Up Wednesday - October 8

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly blog hop created by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk to help writers stay in touch.

What I'm Reading: 
I finished Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher in a few days and I'm still reeling. I haven't been so absorbed in a book in a long time. It's not one I'll read often but it is one that I'll carry with me. Now I'm biding my time waiting for Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan to arrive. Really hoping it's going to be here Friday because I need it.

What I'm Writing: 
LP hit 50k a couple days ago. I'm aiming for 70k (my first drafts tend to be on the short side and I was hoping this one might be a bit more substantial, since it's high fantasy) but I think it might actually end up being longer. There's quite a bit left to go. 

What Works for Me: 
Brainstorming sessions. I got stuck on where to go with LP so I sat myself down with my little notebook (in class...shhh don't tell my professor) and jotted down everything that came into my head. Some of it had to be thrown out because it wouldn't fit with the rest of the plan, but I have a lot of great ideas for scenes and a general direction for the rest of the plot. 

What Else I've Been Up To: 
I had family up for the weekend. It was a horrible weekend weather-wise, cold and rainy, but we still decided to hike out a short distance to a waterfall that I'd never seen before. 


Have a great week, everyone!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

What's Up Wednesday - October 1

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly blog hop created by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk to help writers stay in touch.


What I'm Reading: 
I finished Micro by Michael Crichton and Richard Preston over the weekend. It was good but underwhelming. I could definitely tell where Preston took over the writing. I loved the characters and the concept but the execution was a little disappointing. Now I'm on Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher to tide me over until Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan arrives next week. 

What I'm Writing: 
LP

What Works for Me: 
Keeping bulleted lists of future scenes. I've always been a pantser when it comes to writing fiction, but sometimes I get ideas for scenes or think of questions that need to be answered or bring up things early in the story that I can't forget to tie in later. Instead of writing out an outline, I just keep a bulleted list of these scenes in a rough order. That way I don't forget anything but I don't feel restricted to sticking to an outline. 

What Else I've Been Up To: 
Fall TV season has started. Agents of SHIELD started last week. NCIS LA last night. Once Upon a Time started on Sunday but I haven't watched that yet. I'm giving it a few episodes before I decide to give it up. The Flash and Arrow start next week. I've also started watching Forever. Not sure if it'll last but I'm starting to like Henry Morgan so I'll give it a chance.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

What's Up Wednesday - September 24

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly blog hop created by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk to help writers stay in touch.


What I'm Reading: 
I'm going to finish Micro this week. It's going to be a thing that happens.

What I'm Writing: 
LP is still progressing. I've also had a very strong urge the past few days to pull out an old WIP and just give it a read to see exactly how extensive revisions are going to have to be. Haven't given in to the urge yet because LP has my attention at the moment and classes have kept me pretty busy this week.

What Works for Me: 
Word count goals. Every day I write a goal on my to do list and then I use Scrivener's session target feature to keep track of how much I've written. I like to keep my goals small and manageable, between 250 and 1,000 words. When I'm really busy or having trouble finding the words, I shoot for 250. So far this semester I've been building up my goal, raising it every week. I'm up to 750-word days at the moment.

What Else I've Been Up To: 
NHL pre-season started yesterday! Hockey is my favorite sport and the only one I avidly follow. I've had to listen to the games on opposing teams' radio stations because the Red Wings' usual station doesn't carry most pre-season games. Can't wait for the regular season to start so I can watch on TV. It's going to be a great season.

Have a great week, everyone!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

What's Up Wednesday - September 17

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly blog hop created by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk to help writers stay in touch. Leaves are changing, I had my first pumpkin spice latte on Friday (though I actually get more excited about the salted caramel mocha), and my denim jacket is hanging on the back of my chair. It must be fall. I swear summer was here yesterday but it seems to have run off again.


What I'm Reading: 
Still Micro. I really need to finish that.

What I'm Writing: 
LP hit 40k yesterday! I might have to do some more plotting soon. I know where it's going but I only have a vague idea of how. I have a few new characters thrown into the mix, one that I like and one that I'm really starting to hate.

What Works for Me: 
I completely missed this last week, but I really love the idea. Something that works for me is carrying around a little notebook for jotting down writing ideas and scenes on the go. I wrote 1k of a scene in class yesterday. I like keeping my writing ideas separate and together rather than jotting them down on the paper I use to take notes for class.  

What Else I've Been Up To: 
I had too much free time on my hands so I watched an entire season of Supernatural in four days. I'm still not entirely sure how that happened. Also, I defeated Demyx in Kingdom Hearts 2. It only took me about six hours of gameplay and some intense level grinding. I enjoyed my time off but now I've got a lot of work to be done.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Blocking Out Distractions

The hardest thing about being productive and getting work done is blocking out distractions. Friends, family, TV, Internet, distractions are everywhere. With classes and work, I don't generally have much time to allow distractions to take away from my work time and then that cuts into my free time.

First things first, change your workspace if you can. This might mean using a different computer, sitting at desk rather than the couch, going into another room, or maybe leaving home to hit the library or coffee shop. I like a low drone of background noise so I used to get a lot of work done in Starbucks.

Then shut down the Internet. I like to keep a lot of tabs open to email, Facebook, forums, etc.and those tend to serve as major distractions for me when I'm using the computer for work. I think "I'll just check my email real quick" and twenty minutes later I find myself on Tumblr. Only open those tabs that are actually necessary for your work.

Make a list of tasks. I find this helps me keep organized with what I need to get done each day. The list usually includes homework, any chores that I have to get done around the house, my target word count for the day, blogs post I need to write, and anything else that I need to do.

Use a timer if that works for you. Some people find it helpful to set a timer for 30 or 60 minutes and then work the entire time. Then when the timer goes off, you take a break and start it again.

While you're working, give intermittent breaks--but preferably not the Internet. That's an easy black hole to get sucked into. Read a couple chapters of a book, watch an episode of a TV show, go for a walk, do whatever you like as long as you'll be able to come back from it refreshed and ready to work.