NaNoWriMo: Day 9 (63,782 words)- BackUp Your Work!

NaNoWriMo2016A Cautionary Poem

We backup to our hard drive;
We backup to our mail.
We backup without thinking;
We backup without fail.

We backup to a DropBox
Or similar device;
We backup to a flash drive;
We even backup twice.

We send it to our family;
We send it to our friends.
They send restraining orders
And then the fun begins.

Unless you like retyping
A thousand words or more
Backup your words this instant
I beg, beseech, implore.

Backup when you’re done writing;
Backup the in-between.
Backup before web browsing;
Backup your words, your dreams.

If you forget to backup
(And everybody does)
Then post this short reminder
Wherever you have cause.

And now I’m off to backup
My own words places three,
And life will be less stressful
If you backup like me.

My computer had major issues yesterday. Major, won’t boot, issues. Fortunately, I had saved all my work for the day on a flash drive, so I wasn’t worried about losing my progress. Unfortunately, it limited how much I wrote for the day.

Off to make up for the loss. Go back up your work, then get writing.

NaNoWriMo: Day 8 (59,787)- The Healthy Edition

NaNoWriMo2016I kept running into that wall yesterday, so I finally cut myself a little slack. I went and played four miles of Pokémon and watched football (and was quite disappointed that only a couple of players seemed to use their feet) and went to bed early instead of obsessing about word counts. I’m behind… and that’s okay.

When I committed myself to crazy word counts for this NaNoWriMo season, I promised I would also practice self-care. I wanted a real body– to be a Real Person– I was certainly going to take care of it.

That’s harder than you would think when every instinct you have says to sit in the chair for 12-14 hours a day.

But I have mostly been managing it, other than being a little behind on cardio exercise. It helped that I started with a plan:

  • Every morning I get up, make a big cup of tea (I cheated once and had coffee instead and felt less hydrated all day). I take a probiotic, a multi-vitamin high on Omega-3s, and (because I’m a Figment trying to turn real), a special vitamin for skin, hair and nails. (You have no idea how funny you look without those three things until you don’t have them).
  • Most mornings (I have been lax at times), I then do fifteen minutes of yoga or strength training, followed by five minutes of meditation.
  • Then I do this blog.

What does this do? Well, I start off hydrated and, by holding off my caffeine (and sugar), I don’t head toward an energy crash until later in the day. The vitamins help make up for those times when, instead of eating a real lunch, I grab a pastry from the coffee shop (where I’m having my coffee with too much sweet stuff). Starting out with exercise stretches out all the kinks from the day before and means I’ll get some exercise no matter how distracted I get by all the glorious words flowing from my fingertips. The meditation and blog get my mind in the right place to have a good, productive day.

I also throw in a few other things, already planned for:

  • I’m rather addicted to Pokémon Go, so I get in some walking on a daily basis. Unfortunately, it’s often slow walking, as our area is inundated with gyms, poke stops, and creatures, so it doesn’t count as true cardio, but it does count as exercise.
  • Other than lunches, my meals are planned out and healthy. I have a pre-planned grocery list for each week. I really don’t have to think about what I’m going to eat, so I eat what I should.
  • I have no snack/ junk food in my place of residence. This does not stop the siren call of num-nums when I’m out at a write-in or escaping the construction ninjas, but it still helps.
  • I use this wonderful stuff called Arnicare Gel to massage my hands daily. I’m sure just the massage does wonder (as do breaks),  but the gel works well for me. Don’t take just my word for it, though. WebMD says: “Early research shows that using an arnica gel product (A. Vogel Arnica Gel, Bioforce AG, Switzerland) twice daily for 3 weeks reduces pain and stiffness and improves function in people with osteoarthritis in the hand or knee. Other research shows that using the same gel works as well as the painkiller ibuprofen in reducing pain and improving function in the hands.”
  • I use a Pomodoro-style timer (25 minutes work, 5 minutes break) or word crawls to do my writing. Yes, it’s hard sometimes to stop mid-creative flow, but the frequent breaks give my eyes and hands a boost. I also find that stopping mid-thought sometimes makes it easier to start up again.
  • I’ve planned on down-time/ social time. Sometimes this is just going to the local write-in. Sometimes it’s taking a walk (see Pokémon). Sometimes I even let myself watch one (just one!) episode of television.

Even if you haven’t already been taking care of yourself, it’s not too late to start. Remember, the words will be there whether you write them in November or January. If you damage your body– assuming you’re not a Figment– you’re stuck with that damage forever.

How do you care for yourself?

NaNoWriMo: Day 7 (55,802)

NaNoWriMo2016I have run into a wall… and it wasn’t all friendly-like.

Sundays are traditionally a recharge day for me, but it’s NaNo. Recharge means I wrote a little over 4k, finished up the cover and formatting for The Wicked Witch of Whatever, and hit the shiny “publish” button.

Today, I don’t want to write.

And this is honestly the thing that will separate me from the pack when it come to the long-term. Because I’m going to sit my rather fluffy butt in the chair and write anyway. I may grouse. I may kill off Eric in new and exciting ways. I may even deny the Bobian (and myself) ice cream.

But I’m going to write.

Take a chill pill, those of you who just went all full-defensive.  There’s no judgement in this. The only writer I get to judge is myself. But I want to be a full-time Writer. (I also want to be a Real Person, but that’s a different blog post.) Are there writers who manage a good living without writing when they don’t want to? Absolutely. But there are more who make themselves write when they don’t want to, because the road to success isn’t paved by Muses, it’s paved with sweat, tears, and the blood of our Characters.

So I’m off to write some words. Actually, I’m off to write a lot of words. Hopefully that inspires you. If it threatens you, why? We have the same 24 hours in a day (except on the days I cheat and write myself into a world with 37-hour days… you didn’t read that).

Yes… but you get to write full-time.  Actually, I write full-time now and then, but a Figment who wants to be Real has to spend time at a day job, same as most of us. I have orientation for a new job today.

Yes… but you don’t have babies or toddlers or small demon spawn running around. I don’t, but I have done time in the world of parental units. When I did, I wrote during naptimes. I got up early. I settled for smaller word counts. But I wrote a little every day… and the experience added up, even when the words were unusable.

Yes… but you aren’t as sick as I am/ don’t have my mental illness/ seem perfectly healthy. First of all, I work really hard to seem this healthy, both mentally and physically. In fact, tomorrow I’ll post about that. But I have dental issues, eye issues, ulcerative colitis, the niggling start of what may be rheumatoid arthritis, and a few other concerns that I can’t get into a doctor to work on because, well, I don’t have a regular full-time job with insurance. I also struggle with being overly sensitive behind this debonair, devil-may-care exterior and suffer from depression, especially in the fall months when all the glorious sunshine takes a vacation somewhere else. Helen Keller wrote books, blind and deaf. Stephen Hawking wrote books and he has trouble with basic functionality. An excuse is an excuse is an excuse. (Also, if you’re creating yourself as a Real Person, only add in so much angst. Yes, it makes you a better writer, but it wastes so much perfectly good writing time.)

So, get off your “yes… buts” and get on your writerly butt and write some words. Or don’t. But don’t come whining to me about it. I’m busy writing.

NaNoWriMo Prep: Learning to Prioritize

NaNoWriMo2016

I have let you down, dear Readers. I am late. But I’m not going to apologize because, as much as I adore my adoring public, I had my priorities straight this time.

You see, I have a deadline that has to be met by tomorrow, so I was up late, burning the 2 am electricity, trying to get closer to that deadline while the inspiration was burning hot. I knew what my priority was, and that’s what I put first.

And that’s what the prep post is about today: learning to prioritize.

Any other time in the year, it makes perfect sense to squeeze writing in here and there (unless you are  Professional Writer ™, in which case you squeeze everything else in). During November, however, you have to learn to make writing your top priority.

I am not saying to neglect Real Life. If you have small spawnage, a Day Job, or educational pursuits, those have to come first. It just means you have to work even harder to make sure that other pursuits are neglected during November.

Here’s what I mean: apparently, Real People must eat and sleep regularly. Showering and other self-care is advised. But there are a large number of people who manage these things without giving up dream pursuit. They do not have more hours than everyone else, even though it seems like they might. Instead, they learned how to prioritize.

So I’m going to give you a (very-mini) course in prioritizing for November. This is going to feel a little like work. Congratulations. You just learned one of the hard things in writing. It’s not always pursuing your Muse over fields of deepest violet. Sometimes it’s plain, boring work.

Sit down with a free fifteen minutes or more. Don’t rush this. List out your hourly obligations for each day of the week. Then fill in the things that normally take up the rest of the time. Be honest with yourself. Do you spend 16.2 hours on Facebook while calling it “writing”? Put “Facebook” on the page.

Now go through and highlight the things that you cannot change. Job time. Eating. Sleeping. Physical activity.

Rewrite your schedule and only put in the highlighted things. See everything else? This is where you put writing time.

Your weekly (or daily– I’m not judging) binge with the Winchester brothers? Save it for December. The 43 minutes you spend playing Video Slot Dice in Hell RPGs? Get it out of there. If you spend two hours getting dressed in the morning (I might be judging a little here), figure out a routine that lets you cut it down to 1.5 hours.

Look at your schedule. Can you double-up anywhere? Maybe you commute on mass transit. Write while you commute. Even if you only get in ten words while commuting, that’s ten words you didn’t have before. List it on your schedule. Just make it one of those things you do. Lunch break? How about 15 minutes to eat and 15 minutes for a word sprint?

You get the idea.

That’s all for today. Just set your priorities. Tomorrow, we’ll go over how to set up some routines and shortcuts (I’m looking at you, two-hours-to-get-ready people) to make daily things a little easier.

Trust me. You’ll thank me for this later.

A to Z Blogging Challenge: O

A to Z Blogging Challenge: Ocular Impairment. Do Not Adjust Your Station

A to Z Blogging Challenge: O

Yesterday was the first time since April started that I wrote no words. Zero. Zilch. Zip. Less than one.

This is okay.

I’ve been pretty hardcore about getting in my one poem a day and not missing any days of the blogging challenge. Yesterday, I missed my poem, but I’m pretty sure no one else will miss my attempt at a Petrarchian sonnet.

On Friday, I had an event that challenged me to move 5k (walk/run) and write 5k. I got the words in, but it was a hectic day and I abused my eyes.  I also did it on four hours of sleep.

On Saturday, I got to play host and I was a guest at a thirteen-hour online event. On three hours of sleep. I took one 30-minute nap, one 15-minute Starbucks run, and a quick dash to the mailbox. Beyond that, I was in front of a computer all day.

Last night I tried to get a book cover finished, do a social media graphic, and write up a short story before I got to my poem for the day. I didn’t finish. By the time I got through my social media graphic, my eyes were burning and I was seeing in double-3D (I don’t know any better way to describe it). I was done.

I have to get my words in today– after all, I am a professional writer. That brings me to the hard choice:

I’m going to be retiring as a professional writer, at least until I figure out how to work with macular degeneration.

Don’t get me wrong; I’ll still write. In fact, maybe I’ll write more, since I won’t be spending time on book covers, editing, formatting, and marketing. I just don’t think I should put out sub-par work and I can’t afford to pay someone to do the quality of work I would do myself. Not right now.

So… Beta Beware is the last novel I have slated for publication in a year when I was shooting for six books. And I’m okay with that.

It all comes down to priorities. Priorities are the difference between the wannabe writer who never finishes anything (I just don’t have the time) and the prolific writer who puts out books on a regular basis. Priorities are also the difference between an ex-writer (I need to save my eyes) and the prolific writer who puts out books on a regular basis. In none of these options are the priorities bad. The priorities just determine what gets done and what doesn’t.

I’ll still write. I’ll always write. I just can’t put out quality right now, so I won’t publish. Again, priorities.

What are your writing priorities? Have you ever sat down and written them out?

A to Z Blogging Challenge: N

A to Z Blogging Challenge: No. Nope. Nyet. Nuh-uh.

A to Z Blogging Challenge: N

There is a time when you just need to say: NO!

Today is going to be one of those times.

I’ve been doing relatively well keeping up on this challenge (I hate doing anything on a daily basis, so it’s been a challenge). Today, however, I am spending all day at an online event and I just can’t even.

There will be days you can’t even either… or that you shouldn’t even. People are always going to want your time (or money or skills) and you only have so much.

You have to know where your priorities are so you can figure out when to say “yes”, when to say “no”, and when to say “maybe later”.

Blogging regularly is pretty low on my priority list, so it’s getting a “no” today. Supporting my friends for promotional events is pretty high and I didn’t even have to think about it. Sleep is important, but I can get by for one day, so I told sleep “maybe later”.

Getting in the habit of labeling things this way will keep you happier, healthier, and more able to do the things you really want to do.

What things do you need to say “no” to?