Brida Anderson

Urban Fantasy

Tag: productivity

After NaNoWriMo is before NaNoWriMo … or is that Christmas?

My loves,  what’s been going on here? Beside life in this little desert town that has been as chaotic as ever ;-)

50.000 words — one of them must be right

I’ve written a novel for NaNoWriMo that wasn’t planned at all. I switched it at the last minute because the short story I wrote for Witches in Fiction 2014 just wouldn’t leave my thoughts. So I dove into world building, character building and motivation for a week for “Witches of Riverdale” , then set out. Ended up writing 60.000 words in 3 weeks in November. I’m still stunned by that. My highest wordcount in the shortest time so far. And some days of writing more than 6.000 words in one day — that hasn’t happened ever since I became a mom.  :-D *happy dance*

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NaNoWriMo is always a great teacher, to any novel writer. What I take away this year? That it’s possible at all to write so much for a novel in such a short time. That I can create about 10-15 pages per day, even with kids. What helped me immensely was Reverse NaNo WriMo. (Here’s a suggestion how that goes.) I didn’t do it by the letter, but I started out using their wordcount goals. Then kept going with the high goals until our visitors arrived. Didn’t write at all for a few days. Visitors left — I picked up using the 1st week of Reverse NaNo WriMo once more. Caught up, then kept going to write a padding for the next 4 days of visitors.

If you do NaNoWriMo, give the Reverse idea a try. :-)

Elves or witches? Tough call

For December, I’m at the crossroads of two projects I love very much. Should I use December to turn the Zero Draft of NaNoWriMo into a real first draft? Or sit down to complete the 1st draft of Rule of Thorns, book 2? Gah, choices.

 

Adventures of the Fae Cat

On the non-writing side, we had our kitten spayed. There were complications and I spent a lot of November in and out of the vet’s with her. She kept taking off her cone, worried at the wound and they had to redo surgery. Poor cat.  :-( Now things are looking up; hopefully we can remove the cone in four days so she can go back to her normal slinky, playful life.

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Before the cat surgery we also had visitors here in Qatar. It was huge fun to see the country from a tourist’s point of view and to take tours we hadn’t because as an expat you get so caught up in managing the move, then the day-to-day.

I’ve also started (a few months ago, actually) to volunteer for an hour per week in the German school. In German the work’s called “Lesepatin”. Sort of like a “reading fairy” or “reading godmother”. Someone unrelated to the kids and not a teacher coming in once per week to practise reading with the children who can’t do that at home. Because their parents don’t speak German, or because the parents don’t have time or can’t be bothered. Can’t say a lot of moms get into it, maybe because you can’t phantasize yourself as this great storyteller who reads to the kids but instead  you keep very much in the background, just listening to the kid struggle through the text, only gently correcting when the right word doesn’t come fourth, even after several attempts. It takes a lot of focus — you have to imagine someone who needs ten minutes for half a page of text. But it’s very rewarding to see the children improve — and their joy, when with the improvement, they start to enjoy reading. And hey, what better use of my time than to create future readers? ;-)
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If you’d like to leave a comment on this blogpost, please leave it on the Facebook page or through Twitter instead. I’d love to talk to you.

tendril_small

brida_anderson_photo_babs_huber_thumb Brida Anderson’s novel, Hedge Games, released in December. You can find her at www.brida-anderson.com, Facebook, and Twitter. She and her family currently live in the Middle East with the newest addition to their household, a fae-cat called Robin.

Mom-bloggers and mom-writers unite!

Wow, it’s been crazy here, trying to write on deadline while the kids are on school/nursery vacation.

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It’s the first year of school for our oldest son, so I’m used to a maximum of 3 weeks vacation from his kindergarten days back in Germany. Here in Qatar, he has almost 9 weeks of summer vacation. 9 weeks!

We enrolled our youngest (3) in summer camp at his nursery. Which whittled his 8 weeks of vacation down to 4 weeks …

Whatever possessed me to agree to a deadline for a project that falls into my boys’ vacation? Well. I had planned to be done with the book before vacation even started. While moving thousands of miles abroad … Cough. Still, I almost managed. But that last sprint to the finish line kept eluding me.

So, here we are. 4 weeks of trying to write a nonfiction book and blogposts alongside a constantly prattling 3-year old. Who, of course, has just he entered into the infamous “Why?”-phase.

“Why’s that?”

“But why?”

“And why’s that?”

“Why don’t you know?

“Why …?”

… on and on  ;-) (Do you know the Louis CK sketch about the WHY?)

I’m also entering the last corrections into my Western-Aetherpunk short story … or I would be, if we hadn’t left for vacation. Where we promptly caught a stomach-bug and took turns being sick. (“Why are you holding your stomach, mom?” “Why do you need this bucket?” … LOL)

The crux is: We’re back in Qatar now. Here, it’s too hot, humid and sunny during the day to do anything outside. Even swimming is out of the question. Sunshade over the pool or the playground? That’s for sissies, apparently.

You’d think that the Qataris would have long caught on and built pleasure domes for families. Every bigger city in Germany has those artificial rec spaces, usually with indoor swimming pools, sauna, kid activities. But also with aquariums, Lego Centres, you name it. Here, everything is out under the sun, except for the malls. Weird. No, don’t get me started on the cramped indoor playgrounds in Qatar … I dubbed them Las Vegas for kids. = :-/

So life outside starts at sunset. Going swimming. Going to the playground. (The lights at the playground have been broken for a while. “Don’t hworry mamsir, we fix it.”)

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Playground after dark in Doha, Qatar

And I write during the kids’ afternoon siesta. Or I try to. A day of “why? why? waaaah! want X, want Y! Moooom!” isn’t exactly helping to write with a fresh mind.

It’s been a week only since we got back but we’re running out of indoor-activities that can hold a 3-year-olds attention. It wouldn’t be hard to entertain my 7-year old indoors. He’s fallen in love with crafting, he loves playing boardgames and painting. But the day is loooooooong when matched against a 3-year-old’s attention span and you can’t take him outside.

I tried my NanoWriMo routine of getting up before the kids but that only worked while we were on vacation. In Qatar, our youngest has started waking again in the night repeatedly – from nightmares, the air-condition or the crushing heat. So he ends up staying with us — and gets up with me. “Why are you sneaking off to your computer?”

(On the other hand – who can resist this little guy? :-)

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If you’d like to leave a comment on this blogpost, please leave it on the Facebook page or through Twitter instead. I’d love to talk to you.

tendril_small

brida_anderson_photo_babs_huber_thumb Brida Anderson’s novel, Hedge Games, released in December. You can find her at www.brida-anderson.com, Facebook, and Twitter. She and her family currently live in the Middle East with the newest addition to their household, a fae-cat called Robin.

Slipping back into frazzled working mode – Procrastination-Challenge Day 3

I’m blogging this days after the fact — due to working in “chunks”. Some days are for blogging, others for working on my non-fiction projects. Lessons learned from the Procrastination-Challenge so far. As you can see in this post.

Brida's Procrastination Challenge


 

Day 3 of the Procrastination-challenge started with meeting three other women for coffee. I’m yearning to get to know more people here in Doha (dare I say: more people who fit my tribe? ;) and I’m always happy to see other adults :-), so that was a much-needed outing.

Two lessons learned from this day for the Procrastination-Challenge:

  • I need the first morning hours for work. Starting when my brain still feels fresh and, creatively speaking, close to the landscapes of sleep/dreams.
  • Starting after 10 is too close to lunch (even if I ignore lunch and only stop working when I have to pick up my kids at 1:30); after 11 is even less productive. Even if coffee-fueled ;-)

How do you feel about that? What’s your experience today, after 3 days of No-Procrastination?

Today, I kept slipping back into my old mode of working. Just because I kept thinking “oh well, I don’t have that much time for work today anyway”. Which was just the usual bull our inner procrastinator tells us – I had ample time.
Several emails from the publishing house flew in about my Mom-Wellness-manuscript which is currently being typeset. They were urgent but not that urgent — still I repeatedly stopped what I was currently working on to answer the small questions in the emails (about spelling a certain word, layout for the index, and such).

After the third email, I never went back to focussed writing. I answered other emails, connected with new friends on Facebook, lost at least an hour commenting and reading in Facebook, researched a new blog platform for this blog, researched how to transfer the blogposts …

New emails in between, more research for silly workflow stuff, like: “how much does a full Adobe Acrobat version for the Mac cost” — because the publishing house had said that the PDF with my corrections didn’t print properly.
Does that sound familiar?

Only because I had worked for 2 days following the No-Procrastination rules, I realized for the first time how frazzled this way of working makes me feel!

You do accomplish a lot of different tasks in one day and manage to get all the urgent, niggly stuff off your desk. But there is no (or: not much) brain-capacity left for really working on the projects that matter. The projects that require concentration and inspiration.
Perhaps a good mix could be 2 rounds of focussed writing and then devoting one hour to such urgent but non-creative stuff each day. (Or more, if you have more hours at the office than I do.)

During the remainder of the No Procrastination-Challenge I’ll keep trying out different rhythms of focussed writing, different projects and urgent stuff to see which works best.

Ways to work fast / write fast

Just came across two interesting info-graphics from Funders and Founders.

Not sure about the picture-rights, so I’ll link to them instead of reposting them here:

How to work fast — a lot of what I found out works for me during the 31-Day-Procrastination Challenge

Why don’t People do? Thoughts that get in the way of creating — especially important if you’re battling with a strong inner censor/inner critic

 

Day 1 — Go for it! (Procrastination Challenge)

Day 1 of the Procrastination challenge means: taking stock so you can apply the rules (for rules, see The Procrastination Challenge: Day 0).
Take a deep breath and check: What’s on your desk? (literally and metaphorically speaking)

Brida's Procrastination Challenge
Pile it all up, favorite  projects and “grrr, must do this” alike.
Focus on the “creative” projects in your given field. What you always wish you had more time and calm for.

Non-creative projects like inbox-cleaning, bill-paying and such are also better done in bulk, but you can do them anytime, not especially in your precious full-concentration-no-procrastination hour/s.

What’s important? What brings you closer to your goal or dream?

Use helpful tools like Leonie’s Amazing Year-Planner (“Create your Amazing Year”, there’s a biz and life edition), Getting Things Done or whichever speaks to you most to hone your list of Most Important Tasks.

Whittle it down to two or three tasks you will focus on for this week/this month. Make a list.

Two projects for my 3 rounds of no-procrastination

Day 1 sees me picking two projects from the list: Writing on my current non-fiction project “Finding Calm inside Myself” (deadline is end of August, but there’s school vacation for all of August, so the deadline for me is end of July).

And reworking my entry for the Aetherpunk Western anthology (“For a fistful of Feathers”). I got detailed feedback from critique partners and the next round of critiquers is waiting for the improved version of the story.
What are your two or three projects you’ll tackle in today’s 3 rounds of no-procrastination writing?
So, setting the timer for the first (and longest) round of 50 minutes and off we go. (For “rules” see The Procrastination Challenge: Day 0.)
See you on the other side.

The Procrastination challenge. Day 0

Half a million projects on the plate, a small kid who is always sick, with outside temps at 40°C and rising? We’re arming ourselves with Leo Babauta’s no-procrastination ideas, putting on sunglasses and add a tank full of gas. Let’s hit it!
From today till the day our school and nursery close their doors, it’s 7 weeks. 7 weeks with 5 working mornings per week (if no-one gets sick. again. %-) * That’s 35 possible no-procrastination days.I’ve procrastinated my little heart out already today, with Facebook, eMails, blogposts, so this is day 0 not day 1. ;-PSo, huh? What is this?
Check out Leo’s blogpost on procrastination (while you’re at it: his posts on forming good habits are also great).
Back?
Great.
So, essentially what Leo’s post boils down to for me (you might have a different take-away):

What does it mean to have “No Procrastinaton”? Does that mean an unbroken stream of work from waking until bed?

It means I’m going to define things I can’t procrastinate on, even for a minute, and set a time period I have to work without distraction. And after that work period, I get a break.

An example: Let’s say the next thing on my list is to write a chapter of my book. I set a timer for 20 minutes, and I have to start right away, and work without cessation until the timer goes off. Only then can I check email or do any online reading, though I can work longer if I’m in a groove.

That’s Leo’s words. (Source: http://zenhabits.net/procrastinateless/)
Because I don’t have a whole day and several projects, I’ll be stricter with social media.My rules for the next 35 working “days”, based on Leo’s but moulded for my situation, are:

  • List my Most Important Task. I have to pick 1 thing from my “Do this week!”-board for that day.
  • Do it early. As soon as I start my working day, I will write for the chosen project without stopping for 50 minutes.
  • Do only empowering breaks. I’ll do 15 minutes break, but without Facebook, Pinterest. I can do yoga, prepare a coffee, water the plants outside.
  • After fifteen minutes, I do the next writing-bit, for about 30 minutes. I’ll play around with duration of the writing sprints depending on project.
  • Next break. Rules see above.
  • Next round of writing, this time for the 2nd project on my list, for 40 minutes.
  • Break. This time, Facebook, E-Mail, Pinterest etc. allowed.
  • The rest. I now should have about two hours, give or take, left of my morning. Now I’ll turn to the “other stuff” on the board (bills, text feedback, emails) and to household chores.
  • Every day I manage the schedule, will be one token for reward. ((I have a private list set up at Amazon where I add stuff I’d love to have and how many tokens it’s worth. Books, LARP accys, elfish jewelry. Lots of Etsy finds :-))
  • If there’s a “higher force” (kids sick etc.) and I don’t meet my quota, nothing happens. For every day I mess up without external interference, I pay back one token into the stash.
We’ll have to see how it goes and adapt the rules accordingly.
This is based on how I work during NaNoWriMo in November and when I am close to a deadline for a project.What do you think? How’s your battle with procrastination going? Want to join me for a final writing sprint before summer vacation?

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