What Did I Write Today?

YA author Medeia Sharif, with a bazillion (or maybe it’s six) books to her credit, does a fun summary of her weekly writing activities on her blog. I love reading it. It’s a peek inside the daily workings of a published author. In a nutshell:

  • she’s always working on multiple books
  • she’s always thinking of how to market one or the other–or all of them
  • she’s always involved in some sort of marketing (by this I mean, past the planning)
  • AND–she constantly reads and reviews books to share with her blog readers

Amazing, innit? Medeia inspired me to keep track of what it is I do on a daily/weekly basis. Here’s one day:

  • read and review books in my genre. I track completed tomes using Goodreads’ 2014 Reading Challenge. I’d add the interactive widget here, but WordPress doesn’t support it. Click the image below–it’ll take you to the Goodreads page:

reading challenge

  • research for my much-delayed techno-thriller WIP.
  • draft between nine-twelve posts for my three primary blogs (Ask a Tech Teacher, WordDreams, USNA or Bust!). I do this when inspiration strikes. If I don’t memorialize them in draft form, I won’t have sufficient material for my commitments.
  • work on my non-fiction Technology-in-Education series. There’s a deadline here so I have to keep this project moving forward. Here are some examples:
  • draft/edit/format articles I contribute to several online ezines (like TeachHUB). These, too, have deadlines. I like to wait for inspiration to strike because I write more quickly then, but my muse doesn’t always accommodate me. Then, it’s research-write-edit: Get ‘er done!

Where Do I Start Concept

  • visit my efriends on social media to support them, check in, and learn something new. I use this as breaks in my writing activities. It rejuvenates me to see what the rest of the world is doing.

social media

  • spend ‘some’ time every week marketing, be it an email campaign, a brochure, or images for my books. There’s more than I can keep on top of, so I chip away at it. When I reach a deadline, I put everything else down to complete the project. I end up with a lot of posters like these:
  • about once a week, read and write a review for my Amazon Vine gig. Since I pick these books from an offer list, I am usually inspired and they go quickly.
  • at least once a week, I attend webinars and/or Tweetups in my areas of interest. This keeps me up to date on topics I write about.

social mediaIt doesn’t seem like that much when I list it out. Where DOES all my time go? What do you do with your day?

If you’re curious what other writers do all day, here’s Lynne Hackles post. And here’s Lucy Santos from the Crime Readers’ Association.


More on a writer’s day:

8 Things Writers Can Do No One Else Can

15 Traits Critical to a Successful Writer

A Writer’s (Holi)day

Jacqui Murray is the author of dozens of books (on technology in education) as well as the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com and TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. In her free time, she is editor of technology training books for how to integrate technology in education. Currently, she’s editing a techno-thriller that should be out to publishers next summer.

Follow me.

The Fear Chronicles: Go Small or Go Home

Photo Credit: Joe Sass

Photo Credit: Joe Sass

I’m not really one for New Year’s resolutions. I don’t like failing and the attendant guilt (who does?), and I don’t like that the biggest resolution so often has to do with weight loss. As if January were the best month to start getting active. Anyone in the mood for a frigid game of tennis? A lung-shattering winter run, perhaps? January really should be the month you decide not to lose weight, the month you curl yourself into a chair, read books, and eat.

The other reason I’m not such a big fan of New Year’s resolutions is because when we make them, we bite off more than we can chew. There’s nothing wrong with dreaming big, but to look across the great expanse of your coming year and expect that the resolution you make in January will be going strong in December is not altogether realistic. It’s also incredibly daunting; perhaps this is why many resolutions fall by the wayside. Since we are increasingly a culture of immediate results and gratification, our resolutions must be, too. We need to whittle them down to monthly, weekly, or even daily goals. My goals this month: stop biting my cuticles, and do yoga every day. That first one is probably going to be harder than the yoga. I’ve been trying my whole life to stop biting my cuticles, but I’ve never given myself a timeframe. (Incidentally, I wonder if the underlying message with these shorter goals is that maybe after those 30 days, I can go back to my bad habits, like cuticle gnawing. Being able to return to bad habits is strangely comforting. Whether I do or not is yet to be seen, but the thought that I could somehow frees me up to relinquish the old habit or start a new one.)

So, smaller goals.

How does this apply to writing? I’ve been thinking about my writing goals, and noticing that I currently have none. Each April I challenge myself to write a poem a day, and in November, there’s NaNoWriMo, which I’ve done twice. Besides that, I have never set myself a writing goal. As I type that, I realize just how plain bad that is. I set myself work goals and fitness goals and food goals, so why no writing goals? This has to change. I realize I’ve been looking at my writing as this huge thing, and if I’m not writing, I’m not a writer. I need to handle it the way I handle other goals: make them small, give them timeframes, and make them life-altering, but realistic.

Here are some things I’ve been wanting to do: finish revising my chapbook of poetry, and send it out to presses; put together a full-length book of poetry and send that out to presses; write more; submit more single poems to journals; read more poetry; go to more writing conferences; present at a writing conference; write more; write a play; reconnect with my thesis advisor and convince him to be my mentor; get back into reading at or at least attending poetry slams; write more, write more, write more. And so, you see, as the multitude of things I want to do in relation to my writing grows and grows, my desire to do them lessens. Nothing gets done, because there are too many things to do. Daunting. It’s the whole year without chocolate, as opposed to the week. So, the thing to do here is to reign myself in, and choose one. Just one. If I want to do more, I have to focus on less.

So, because I’ve been in a dry spell, as I mentioned in last month’s post, I am going to give myself this goal: write five poems by February 1. The poems don’t have to be polished or ready to submit to the world, but they do have to be written. Five by the first. I can do that. It doesn’t sound too scary, I’ve given myself a reasonable timeline, and I will be writing, which will be a noticeable and rewarding change in my life.

As you look toward this coming month, try for these smaller writing goals, as opposed to the really big ones. Try for daily, weekly, monthly goals. Don’t go for yearly goals—they’ll swallow you whole. And you know what? Here’s the really great thing: all those small goals, plotted out day after week after month become a year’s worth of accomplishments. All the little stuff adds up. You’ll realize that when you focused on less, you were able to accomplish more. What will your small goal be this month?