Writing Accountability

Writing Accountability HeadIn January I wrote about a method I planned to try to increase my writing output. The basic idea (which comes from Jerry Seinfield) is to work every day on your writing. Every day you work, even a little, you put an X on a calender, until you have a chain of Xs. Here’s the link to my original post. –Link

I have since evolved the method for myself. I want to share that with you as well as my results.

First, I discovered I didn’t like Xs. They had too much of a negative connotation for me and didn’t give me that “I did it!” thrill I wanted. I changed to a star for a day I work on writing. If I miss a day, then I put an X. If I have to miss a day, for example, I’ve had some doctor’s appointments out of state, then I just put a scribble. Neither positive or negative.

Second, I decided after a month or so to write what I did that day. My calendar is small (I just bought a monthly calendar from the Dollar Store), so it’s often in shorthand. “Read thru JS,” or “plotting FT,” because all my stories have code names. I’m sure everyone does that–it saves time.

Third, by the time I got to March, I decided to schedule two critiques per week for my critique group and to plan on the calendar to write blog posts ahead of time. (It’s May 26 as I write this.)

This method has made me wildly, exponentially more productive than I have ever been as a writer.

I HATE breaking my chain. I hate seeing those Xs. I kind of even hate the squiggly–if I can squeeze in work those days, I do. I’m all about the stars, baby. If you want to see evidence, here’s a copy of April from my calendar.

I have three Xs. That’s 1/10 of the month. I had seven squiggly days (it was a busy month), but I still managed to write on two of those. That means, according to my calendar I wrote 23 days from a month in which I spent five days out of state.

I wrote a little more than 3/4ths of the time. In May, I missed three out of 31 days. I know some people, even on this blog, can say they do that well. I can promise you that before I started my calendar, I’d have been lucky to write more than half the time.

This year

I finished a 41k word novella and and rewrote a 95k word novel. I’ve completely plotted another novella. I have never accomplished so much in my writing career and never expected to. I just assumed I was slow. Turns out, I just wasn’t accountable.

What do you do to stay on track and be accountable for your writing?

About Lori Sizemore

Lover of nail polish, pens, her Kindle, and fresh coffee. She likes romance filled with messy, real characters and lots of snarky banter. Reading was (and still is!) her BFF; when she discovered writing she fell in love. Come for the snark. Stay for the story.

The 5 Best Sites for Bloggers

fbsfbWhen you’re a writer, blogging inevitably comes across your path at some point. It’s always something we “should be doing,” and there are a million opinions about what to blog about. Do you blog about writing? Cooking? Do book reviews?

I’ve been blogging since 2007, and I’m going to point you to some of the best resources I’ve found.

Fabulous Blogging www.fabulousblogging.com

This blog has it all. What you should be writing, how to present it, how to get it out there, and how to make a blog. Can’t recommend this site highly enough; I spend days lost in the archives.

Kristen Lamb’s Blogwarriorwriters.wordpress.com

This site not only offers spot-on writing tips but has easily become the writer’s go-to for blogging advice.

Hubspot’s Blog Topic Generatorhubspot.com/blog-topic-generator

Give this site 3 nouns and it will spit out 7 titles to help you decide what to write. Pretty catchy, SEO empowered titles, as well.

Pixabaypixabay.com

At this point, we all know pictures are crucial to blogging. With the increased use of pinterest to allow others to share your content, you want a solid, professional image. You will find them, free, on this site.

Canvacanva.com

I use this site all the time. Speaking of images, don’t just grab an image, take it over to Canva.com and add your title, name, even your twitter handle or url. Canva can help you quickly make graphics for your site without paying a dime. (I made this graphic with Canva in less than five minutes.)

About Lori Sizemore

Lover of nail polish, pens, her Kindle, and fresh coffee. She likes romance filled with messy, real characters and lots of snarky banter. Reading was (and still is!) her BFF; when she discovered writing she fell in love. Come for the snark. Stay for the story.

My Guilty Pleasure

I’ve always had guilty pleasures. Maybe I just have bad taste, but I like to think if I recognize the badness, then I have good taste, I just don’t employ it often. A guilty pleasure, per wikipedia is:

“something one enjoys and considers pleasurable despite feeling guilt for enjoying it. The “guilt” involved is sometimes simply fear of others discovering one’s lowbrow or otherwise embarrassing tastes, such as campy styles of entertainment.”

guiltyMy latest one is… real housewives. As in -of Orange County or -of Beverly Hills. It’s not the people (although, Heather Dubrow, my freaking idol), or the catfights, or the bad taste. Or the good taste. It’s all of it and none of that. It’s knowing that, really, it doesn’t matter how much you have or how easy your life appears, it’s only as happy as you choose to be.

That being said, my oldest daughter and I have spent many an evening, mouths agape, asking, “Did she really just say that? Go back.” Maybe it’s the catfights a little bit.

What are your guilty pleasures? Please make me feel better.

About Lori Sizemore

Lover of nail polish, pens, her Kindle, and fresh coffee. She likes romance filled with messy, real characters and lots of snarky banter. Reading was (and still is!) her BFF; when she discovered writing she fell in love. Come for the snark. Stay for the story.

Seriously, Winter?

Spring. It’s 14 days away and it can’t come soon enough. I’m not an outdoor person. I enjoy my central heat/air year-round for a constant room temperature 68 degrees F.

Unfortunately, even I can’t ignore Mother Nature or Old Man Winter or Elsa or whoever it is having an emotional weather breakdown and ruining my life.

winter-boyfriend-girlfriend-funny-ecard-tpt

I have lived through several feet of snow. Like, that’s not an exxageration. It’s all  still outside if you don’t believe me. Know why it’s still all outside?

Crazy extreme temperatures. Remember when extreme became this cool thing to be or do? Extreme sports. Extreme home makeovers. Extreme caffeinated drinks. Well, trust me when I say extreme and weather should never be in the same sentence.

desperately-feeling-body-sun-funny-ecard-cJ4

And then, there were locusts. No, not really. But there was flooding. Anyone else starting to wonder if we’re the victim of some crazy mummy-plague-curse thing? Just me?

I spent the entire day and night (sort of; I passed out at 2:30 a.m.) watching my yard for rising water and trying to explain to my kids that our possessions were just things we could replace. Turns out, they’d prefer not to do that.

miss-hating-the-summer-heat-seasonal-ecards-someecards

Please, please, someone else join me in complaining about the weather.

complaint-weather-comparatively-less-annoying-seasonal-ecards-someecards

About Lori Sizemore

Lover of nail polish, pens, her Kindle, and fresh coffee. She likes romance filled with messy, real characters and lots of snarky banter. Reading was (and still is!) her BFF; when she discovered writing she fell in love. Come for the snark. Stay for the story.

Lyrical Empowerment

lyric1Once, I went through a colossal break-up. It was shocking, and awful, and I’d been dumped. I told my friends I wanted to make a CD for myself of strong women singing empowering songs. I added some songs, they suggested some songs.

There was a lot of range in those songs, from Aretha Franklin to Pat Benetar to Avril Lavigne. They were perfect, because I knew he’d be sorry one day and I knew I would only move forward, even if it did feel like someone was literally ripping my insides apart with a butcher knife and a cheese grater.

Then a friend of mine pointed out that I wasn’t collecting strong women songs; I was collecting angry strong women singing empowering songs. It was true, but I was okay with that.

I’ve decided that I can’t make all of you CDs, because that’s illegal, but I can make a Pandora station. If you’ve ever had your heart broken and know you deserved better, I hope you enjoy it. Or, you know, if you feel like listening to some angry strong people (because Pandora is difficult and won’t let me use gender as a qualifier) singing empowering songs, you might enjoy it as well.

Click to listen on Pandora

*You’ll need a free account

About Lori Sizemore

Lover of nail polish, pens, her Kindle, and fresh coffee. She likes romance filled with messy, real characters and lots of snarky banter. Reading was (and still is!) her BFF; when she discovered writing she fell in love. Come for the snark. Stay for the story.

Seinfield, Chains, & Writing

SeinfieldbgI’ve been trying a new technique to increase my writing output with quite a bit of success. Let me clarify, I measure success by working on writing in some way, every day. That’s been my goal. (I wrote last year about how important it was to set goals and then create a plan to achieve those goals, a road map of sorts.) I have finally found a very simple method that works for me.

I first heard about this technique on the website lifehacker.com. Basically, the site covers everything from how to put an altoid tin to use when you’re finished to how to land your dream job (in case you’re one of the five people who hasn’t heard of it). I’m an organization junkie and I’m in love with efficiency. I’m always searching for ways to accomplish more in more efficient ways.

This bit of advice hit my radar last year sometime.

[Seinfield] told me to get a big wall calendar that has a whole year on one page and hang it on a prominent wall. The next step was to get a big red magic marker.

He said for each day that I do my task of writing, I get to put a big red X over that day. “After a few days you’ll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to not break the chain.”

“Don’t break the chain,” he said again for emphasis.

I noted it, did a little nod that it was likely good advice, and promptly filed it away. Fast forward a few months to me being utterly disgusted that I could not find a writing schedule that worked for me. I’d write for a day or two, slack off for a week, and start over.

I finally decided to buy a calendar and try this technique. I can tell you that making those chains is more addicting than candy crush. Or chocolate. Or Downton Abbey. Whatever you find irresistible, you will also find yourself compelled to add another link to your chain. There were those days, and we’ve all had them, that writing anything seemed so huge that the only reason I opened my laptop to do it was to create another link in my chain. And I got good, solid work done because of it. I started seeing real progress.

If you’re struggling, I suggest you give it a try. I also (again) recommend Jamie Raintree‘s writing progress spreadsheet to help you keep up with your work on various projects.

Do you have any other tips that might helps all of us get butt in chair?

About Lori Sizemore

Lover of nail polish, pens, her Kindle, and fresh coffee. She likes romance filled with messy, real characters and lots of snarky banter. Reading was (and still is!) her BFF; when she discovered writing she fell in love. Come for the snark. Stay for the story.

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