Monday Mayhem: Uhhhh

So, yeah. In the last two weeks I’ve completed revisions on one manuscript, approved and completed copyedits on two others, added 15k to my WIP via dictation, and there’s a galley to proof in my inbox.

Yes, it’s safe to say I’ve hit the Kahn level of tired.

So I’m taking the rest of July off. Yep, a whole day.

In the meantime, I have this to keep you entertained:

Lyrical Press is so excited about my upcoming Play Dates series, they are doing a special pre-release giveaway on Goodreads. You can enter to win here: http://bit.ly/2tPeJpg

Oh! And don’t forget to join my Facebook reader group, The Margaritas, if you haven’t already. I haven’t be slaving away on a whole bunch of nothing, you know. There’s going to be some good stuff coming up!

 

 

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Working 9-5 and 5-9 (Or, don’t quit your night job)

This is a compilation of the tweets I shared this afternoon as part of an online writing conference called #notRWA17. I’m collecting them here, but will include a link to the actual tweet thread at the end. 🙂

Welcome to Working 9 to 5 and 5 to 9. Or, Don’t Quit Your Night Job. #notRWA17 #notQuitting

I’m Maggie Wells, and I am THIS CLOSE to completing the 1st draft on my 38th contracted novel/novella. #notRWA17

I am published with Kensington/Lyrical Press, Harlequin-E, Carina Press, and in 2018, Sourcebooks. #notRWA17

I’m also indie publishing my reverted titles. Throughout this entire process, I have worked full-time as a mid-level manager. #notRWA17

This discussion it geared to those of us who are committed to spending 30+ hours per week doing something other than writing. #notRWA17

That includes those who take home a paycheck, as well as those who hold unpaid positions as primary caregivers. #notRWA17

I just want to spend my days writing. Who among us hasn’t said something along those lines? #notRWA17

But the dream may never be a reality. Not because we lack the drive or talent, but because life is messy and complicated. #notRWA17

My situation: My husband is self-employed. His income is fairly steady, but subject to the whims of the economy. #notRWA17

I’d need some SERIOUS BANK to be able to leave my job. I make good money, a steady paycheck & I carry our health insurance. #notRWA17

I’m not saying I don’t dream about it, but dreams are free, and groceries cost money. This is my reality. #notRWA17

The writers who cling to the dream and rail against reality are the ones who give up. But you don’t have to be a quitter. #notRWA17

Now, I’m not saying I don’t THINK about quitting the author gig. I do. A lot. But I won’t. 2 reasons: #notRWA17 A) I’m stubborn as a mule. B) It’s not like I can just shut it off, so why not try to make something of it? #notRWA17

And a 3rd: I know it’s possible to balance the day job with a thriving writing career. They are not mutually exclusive. #notRWA17

Goal setting is essential IMO. Time is a limited commodity, and you need to know exactly what you are after. #notRWA17

Remember, goals should be S.M.A.R.T. – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Result-driven, and Time-based. #notRWA17

Experiment with various writing practices to know which work for you when you need to turn on the faucet. #notRWA17

Examples of practices: Journaling, sprints, group writing, morning pages, dictation, etc. #notRWA17

A writing practice is a tool that can help you get into the groove of your story. My current fave is dictation. #notRWA17

I dictate the next scene in my story on my 13min commute. It’s bare-bones, but I have something to work with when I get home. #notRWA17

Now, the big one: motivation. I spend all day at a computer. There are days when the last thing I want to do is write at night. #notRWA17

We all have days when the motivation isn’t there. The trick is to find a way to spark it. #notRWA17

This is where things like word counts or scene-by-scene book building (I’m using this in combination with dictation) come in. #notRWA17

I swiped one of my new faves from @KarenBBooth . A kinder, gentler approach to word counts. Read it here: http://bit.ly/2uxgbLO

Learn to love leftovers. Never stop when you finish a scene or chapter. Try to start the next so you can hit the ground running. #notRWA17

But the biggest challenge is always time management. If work and writing were the only things in our lives, it might be easier. #notRWA17

We have laundry piles, oil changes, t-ball, and flu. There are babies to squeeze and dogs to walk. And naps. We need naps. #notRWA17

Life is for living, and you cannot let your work/life balance tip into work/work mania. It’s not healthy for you or your stories. #notRWA17

There will be times when work wins, others when life takes the wheel, but that doesn’t mean you can’t manage them. #notRWA17

Real life example: This is my summer of revisions. I have 3 finished manuscripts in editorial with 2 pubs, and a WIP. #notRWA17

I’ve already gone through developmental and line edits on 2 of the 3. In the last 2 weeks, all 3 were returned for the next step #notRWA17

After curling into a tiny ball and moaning, I reviewed the work requested on each ms and agreed that the deadline was feasible. #notRWA17

I tackled & returned 2 copyedited mss first, leaving me free to focus on the more in-depth revisions on the last. #notRWA17

And, using the dictation and transcription method I mentioned earlier, I was able to add (a very rough) 15k to the WIP. #notRWA17

This works for me. Your mileage may vary. The important thing to remember is that it is do-able. #notRWA17

Keep your goals in front of you. Set your expectation dial to ‘realistic’, and be kind to yourself. #notRWA17

We may never get to quit the day job. But that doesn’t mean we haven’t achieved something tremendous. #notRWA17

If you have started a book, you are ahead of most people. If you have completed even one ms, you’ve done something magical. #notRWA17

I wrote more about accomplishment vs ambition on my blog. Here’s the link if you are interested: http://bit.ly/2tYKwPZ #notRWA17

Thanks to @OliviaWrites for organizing this wonderful event and to you for watching me babble here. #notRWA17

I’m happy to answer questions or just commiserate. #notRWA17

If you’d like to enter to win some of my books, enter here; http://bit.ly/2uXkssN I’ll pick the winners Sunday evening.  #notRWA17

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Monday Mayhem – Discipline: The Modern Love Edition

For those of you who have been following my blog for the last few weeks, you’ve heard me mention Elizabeth Gilbert’s term, “the song of the disciplined halfass.”

That section of her book, BIG MAGIC, really spoke to me. Not that I consider myself half-ass. In this case, she’s referring to half-assery as an alternative to perfectionism. As I’ve grown older, I have let go of my quest for perfectionism. I believe it’s corrosive to one’s psyche.

That’s not to say that I don’t get tied up in it every once in a while. I’m not perfect, after all. But, I recognize it for the trap it is, and I try to dial my expectations down to a more reasonable level. Because, let’s face it, the quest for perfectionism can make a person even more imperfect than they already are. Or worse, it can stop them in their tracks.

And this train is not stopping.

I am a disciplined person. First, let me say that my brand of discipline has minimal leather (way too hot) and no actual flogging (only mental self-flagellation). I think of it more in tune with the line from David Bowie’s MODERN LOVE. “I know when to go out. And when to stay in – get things done.”

This week has been a test of that discipline.

First, it was an extremely busy week at the day job. And hot as Hades out there.

8:30am

The increased in pace and soul-sucking heat meant I came home pretty wrung-out, and basically not ready to think really hard about anything. A detrimental state of mind to an author whose writing is pretty much a full-time night job.

Remember how I mentioned before that this would be my summer of revisions? Well the heat is on, both outside and in.

In the last ten days, I received full editorial revisions on one manuscript, as well as copyedits on two others. I knew they were coming, but…EEEP! All this, while trying to complete my work in progress in the month of July.

This is where my Dragon, Desdemona, swooped in to rescue me. Because I have been doggedly limping along with this dictation software, I’ve been able to keep pace with my work in progress in the midst of all this editorial madness. Here’s how:

I dictate on my way to work in the morning, edit my transcribed words first thing in the evening, and add them to my work in progress before moving on to the my editorial work.

So, both rounds of copyedits will have been turned in by the time you read this, I am knee-deep in revision on the other manuscript, and I added a total of 9,874 words to my work in progress over the course of the week.

I’ve also watched a couple episodes of LAST CHANCE U on Netflix. In reading the new Sarah MacLean book. So, you see this job is when to be disciplined, and knowing when to be a half-ass.

Is there anything you’ve learned to let go of lately? Anything you’ve added to your repertoire to make achieving your goals more reasonable? Anyone else googling the video for MODERN LOVE right now? Here, let me make it easy for you. Enjoy, and have a good week! https://youtu.be/1hDbpF4Mvkw

 

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Monday Mayhem – Accomplishment vs Ambition

Good morning! This blog post is brought to you today once again by the letter D. Hi! I’m here with Desdemona, my Dragon software, and I’m talking to myself again. After last week’s post, a few people have asked how it’s going, so here’s an update:

I’ve been working with it all week, I’m not sure that I’m getting any better, but I’m doing it. I’ve been dictating during my approximately twelve minute drive to work each morning. That time has netted me about 900 words on average each day this week. I’m only dictating basic punctuation, and not using the dialogue marks as of yet, but, yeah, progress. When I come home, I have Desdemona transcribe what I’ve dictated into my phone, I edit it, and add it to my work in progress. So far, so good. I’m finding that dictation allows me to get the bones of the scene in, and when I go back to edit it, I’m adding the color, character, and voice to the story.

In other news, at a great time the ladies from the Diamond State Romance Authors yesterday. it had been a couple of months since I’ve been to a meeting, and I really needed this one. Being around other writers helps to recharge the batteries.

We had an interesting discussion at lunch about ambition, expectations, reality and our accomplishments.

When you’re waist-deep in the publishing industry the disparity between an author’s ambition, expectations, and reality, can be…disheartening. And in those moments of despair, we have a tendency to downplay our accomplishments.

So if you are in one of those funks where you feel like a failure, ask yourself these simple questions:

1. Did I try?
2. Did I finish?
3. Did I dare to show my work, even if only to one person.

If you answered yes, to any of these, then you are an accomplished person.

It’s easy to lose sight of our accomplishments when we hold them up next to our ambitions. Most of the time, our ambition and expectations are waaaaaay up here, and our reality looks something like a royalty check barely big enough to cover lunch. But that doesn’t mean we still haven’t accomplished something spectacular.

I’m speaking directly to my novelist friends now, but I believe this applies to any creative endeavor:

Look at what you have done. You are amazing. Literally, one in millions. A percentage so minute, most people don’t even count it on a chart. The year I signed with my literary agent, Sara, she tweeted her 2015 query statistics in December. The numbers were so staggering I broke out the calculator, and did the math.

I know! I voluntarily did math.

You know what? I am one of the .003%

One-percenters may think they are something because their checks cover more than lunch, but you, me, and a handful of others? We’re in an even more exclusive club.

As writers, we build a career one word at a time, one book at a time, one series at a time. What we need to do is stop using yardsticks to measure a game played in millimeters. It doesn’t covert properly.

It’s not wrong to have ambition or expectations. Reality can sometimes be better than we expected. But please, oh please, don’t sweep your accomplishments under the rug because they didn’t jibe with the rest of that jive.

Feed your ambition.

Temper your expectations.

Plot what you can do to enhance your reality.

And celebrate your accomplishments every damn day. Because, wow! Who knew you had this in you?

You did. That’s who.

So, yeah… *steps off soapbox*

Right now I’m working on revisions for novel number thirty-seven and adding words to number thirty-eight. See what I did there?

I’m totally high-fiving myself as I eat the peanut butter sandwich I brought from home.

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Monday Mayhem – Dictatorial Behavior

About a year ago, I purchased Dragon Naturally Speaking software for my computer. I messed with the little that first week I had it, then I walked away because it seemed too complicated.

A number of friends also purchased the software at the same time since there was a deal going on, so over the course of the year we’ve had many, many discussions about our different hangups about using dictation software. The biggest one being that you have to speak your punctuation. Every mark you’re seeing in this post, has been verbalized.

Awkward!

I get particularly mush mouthed when trying to dictate dialogue, which is a bit ironic if you think about it. The commands are  just so unwieldy.  I’m sad to report that a number of us gave up on training our dragons pretty quickly.

Did I tell you that my Dragon’s name is Desdemona?

Desdemona wasn’t cheap, so it’s been hard for me to walk away from her entirely. Over the course of the past few months  A few of us have tried different things to try to make dictation work for us.

Why bother, you ask?

First, I type all day, then I go home and type all night. That takes a pretty hard toll on your wrists and fingers and I’m starting to feel a little bit of arthritis in my hands. Nothing I can’t deal with, and I actually do yoga stretching for my wrists and hands that has helped quite a bit with keeping them limber, but I can see the proverbial writing on the…page.

Then, there’s the oh-so-tempting productivity aspect of it.

It’s amazing how many words you can speak faster than type. And, I’m a fast typist. With hands on keyboard I can usually put up about a thousand words in an hour. With my headset on, and just free-flowing speech, I can dictate that same thousand words in about ten minutes.

Now, I won’t pretend that the storytelling part of writing a novel comes as naturally as speaking. At this point, it’s easier for me to make the story come out of my fingertips than it is to make it come from my lips.

But, the increase in productivity keeps drawing me back to Desdemona.

One of my goals for this summer was to get better at dictation. I started last week with a voice recording application on my phone. Each day, I have a ten minute ride commute to work. I’ve been using that ten minutes to do what some writers call morning pages. Morning pages or were you pretty much info dump everything your thinking about your writing onto the page. The point is to clear your head so that you can move forward with the work.

I then would have Desdemona transcribe the mornings babblings into a document. The results were sometimes hilarious. And not on purpose.

Still, practice makes perfect. Or, at least a 90% accuracy rate.

I’ll probably be using dictation to write this blog posts each week, because, like anything, the more you practice the better you become.

So this blog post is brought to you by the D: Desdemona, and dictation, and discipline.

A couple weeks ago, I spoke about the inspiration I found in Elizabeth Gilbert’s book called BIG MAGIC. One of the bits in her book referred to her attempts at eschewing perfection as ‘the song of the disciplined half-ass.’

I totally ganked that one.

So, here I am, a disciplined half-ass stumbling my way around using this new tool. I can tell you that I am better at it than I was last week. I also have new toys – a swanky headset and a fantastic adapter that will allow me to speak into my phone or iPad if I want to use transcription.

I have everything I need to really rock this disciplined half-assed effort of mine.

Tell me, what dragons will you be taming this week?

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Monday Mayhem – Poised on the brink

Here we are in JULY. Can you believe it? Yeah, I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around it myself. Camp NaNoWriMo started 7/1/17. I’m hoping it gives me to motivation/momentum I need to finish drafting A RING FOR ROSIE (Play Dates #3).

Tomorrow, we celebrate Independence Day. I’m working today and the rest of the week, so that means it’s one of those weird mid-week holidays, but I don’t mind.  We’ll party it up tonight, then I can spend the holiday lounging in my chair watching The Music Man. 🙂

Have a safe and happy Fourth of July, my fellow Americans!

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