Saturday, 29 August 2009

The Calendar for September

Before the start of this month I organised what I was going to be working on and what deadlines I needed to meet and it seems to have been incredibly successful! Through August and part of July I have been a lot stricter at following a writing routine, mostly spending at least one hour a day at my desk a day.

I quickly found, although the one hour a day was good, alone it was not enough. I started planning what I would be doing in that hour in advance, meaning I would not waste time during my hour trying to prioritise my work which was an easy method of procrastinating.

As a result this month I have been able to complete five separate pieces, three of which have been submitted to either competitions or publications. This is compared to two in July, two in June and one in May. I have more than doubled my output between July and August!

So I have been working a lot harder and dedicating more time but it has not been at any great strain. I don't feel I have had to work flat out and because I have set myself realistic deadlines and planned my work I have spent most of the time feeling good about myself for being on target or even a head of it.

What's more because I am planning my work I can be flexible with it. Last night the other half took me out for a posh meal (I know I am very lucky). The problem was I had planned to finish two pieces of work. Now I can hardly turn round and declare this but it was not a problem, because its Saturday today I have simply been able to put it off until today as well as doing what I had planned to do today anyhow.

I hope I have not made that sound too complicated or nerdy. What I am basically trying to express is that August has been a very good month for me productivity wise and it would seem it is down to being well-organised.

With this knowledge I have already planned how I will be spending September. I have produced a calendar for the month, inputted any deadlines I need to meet, took into consideration appointments and holidays and then organised what work I will do around them. September's calendar at the moment is looking very full and I may be being overambitious in hoping to achieve it all but, if August is anything to go by, I should be having another productive month.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

The Office Makeover

So after a morning of sorting out various errands I sorted out my own space. My home office has been needing a major overhaul for some time. Although useful and home to the essentials for getting writing done it was hardly welcoming.

For some time now the office has been housing an extra computer chair, various scraps of paper, a toy mouse (for the cat) and just general mess. Not to mention the printer being on the floor (not good) as well as a large pile of magazines.

The plan had been to buy a magazine tray and an extra table but that has never happened. These sorts of things go on the list, I occasionally remember that they need purchased but it never actually happens. In the end I came to the ingenious solution that it would make much more sense to use the shelving unit already in the office. I have no idea why this has taken so long to think of.

So I spent a short amount of time (short because I wanted the office sorted so dusting was not essential) rearranging the unit, moving the CD tower etc etc and dumping the excess books in the spare room.

And hey presto.... a great smart looking work space complete with an off-the-floor printer and a map that has been thoroughly blu-tacked to the wall. I have visions of hearing a strange noise in the night only to find the map is no longer on the wall (it is a very large map that took my several attempts to put up straight).

The reason this is all so important, apart from hosting some guests next weekend, is that a tidy room means a tidy mind. Of course that probably is not actually true but it does look MUCH better, unlike the spare room. Please keep an eye out for the pictures I will be posting!!

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

ASCA Counselling Writing Competition

ASCA Counselling & Therapy Services are running a writing competition to find 100 short stories and/or poems for inclusion in an anthology.

If have experienced abuse and managed to overcome it, you can enter this contest by writing a relevant poem or short story of no more than 500 words. The anthology of the top 100 entries will be published later this year and revenue from the competition will be used to enable lower-income clients to receive counselling.

Entry Fee: £5 each, £10 for three.

Prizes: £100, £50, £25.

Closing Date: 28 August 2009

Thursday, 6 August 2009

I must have been busy

So with no blog posted in over a month I know I must have been busy. This is of course a good thing.

I spent much of July working on a short story for entry in a competition. I know a lot of people are not keen on writing competitions, more so those that require a fee. I understand their viewpoint as what is the point in paying to submit a piece when you could submit it for free to a magazine and have a much higher chance of success.

Generally I only go for competitions that inspire me, are not too popular (meaning there is less chance of winning) and where the fee is a small amount (as some can be as much as £10- which I find hard to justify as fair). Only if at the very end I genuinely feel I have a chance of winning do I actually submit the piece.

I did submit the piece in the end so it is no simply a case of waiting to see if I get lucky. The other negativity about competitions is the lack of guidelines.

Other projects last month included working on a piece for People's Friend which I now have sitting in a drawer and hope to be submitting later this month. I did enjoy working on this as the magazine's style is quite different so it was demanding trying to get something that I felt would work for the readership.

It's with pieces I am unsure about that I am glad to be part of Talkback. I knew several members on the forum had previous success with People's Friend so it was great to be able to get some constructive feedback and I have put this to good use.

The other writing community in my life is of course 'Lakeland Writers' (or I think that is what it is called now). They meet once a month in Papcastle and I have only recently started attending again after sorting the house out. Each month we set a homework for the next session. That was another thing I was working on in July. The homework was to write about 'things we'd like to know'. I did a poem about 'knowing' a person and I was overwhelmed by the feedback I got. It is reassuring when you get good feedback to know that at least you're on the right track.

This month the homework is to write a war poem, which I imagine will be challenging but it encourages me to write something out of my comfort zone. That will be just one thing I will be working on in August.

Other August projects include two pieces for competitions, a piece for an American magazine and researching My Weekly. No doubt it will be an even busier month in that case. Somewhere on my list I do have my blog but it is sadly lower down I am afraid.

The problem I have when I am this busy is that however much I want to have a regular, successful blog inundated with followers, my other projects hold the possibility of publication and even (drum roll) payment!

What makes my blog more promising is that I now have a much more organised and active writing schedule. So all being well I should be able to fit my blogging in somewhere...