Weekly Report: Unqualified Success!

It’s that time again!

1-Write 500 words on Book the Second.

Success! I have cleared the very low bar this time. I just have to do that maybe 160 more times and I’ll have a manuscript!

2-Tech Bible: Found my solution, it works like I want it to, and I’ve begun transferring the data in. Let’s call this one a success too.

3-E-publishing Research: Fail. Didn’t get anything done there at all.

4-Paid Writing Project: Success. Not done yet, but the finish line is very close.

5-Secret Project: nothing done.

Overall: I got my 500 words, and completed 3 out of 5 tasks. So by my rules it’s a success. Also, it’s really over six days, not a full week, and I didn’t touch the easiest (by my reckoning) task, and it was another legitimately busy week. So I think calling it a success is fair, but I think I ought to raise the bar a bit for next week.

Goals for next week:

1-The AMAZING 600 WORDS CHALLENGE. Yeah. I’m raising the bar by a whole hundred words. As before, this is a must-do.

2-Tech Bible: get the totality of my word file transferred over in the New Tech Bible. For this task to be a success, I must officially have deleted the word file.

3-Notes on e-publishing: same goal as last week: I need to set down the structure of the blog post on this subject.

4-Finish the paid writing project. I need to have sent in the work by next Monday.

5-Secret Project Blog: I need the post to be written. Not posted (that will come later, but it should be ready to go.

6-What’s that? ANOTHER DIFFICULTY INCREASE? such insanity. The goal is to post the next A Dad and a Writer post.

Passing grade for this assignment is 4/6, including the 600 words. Crazy, I know!

Weekly Report: Almost Successful

How productive was I this week? Well, let’s look at last week’s goal list:

1-Write 500 words on Book the Second.

Status: I did get some writing done, but didn’t get to 500 words. Pathetic (but I had an extremely busy week, so I don’t feel as bad as I should about that.)

2-Book the Second tech bible: I didn’t do what I wanted to do there, but I put in quite a few hours to figure out a better way to organize my creative stuff going forward. So it’s a “Did way better than what I had planned” – enough that I can call this a success.

3-Another Bonus Creativity post: Done.

4-Review my agent list: Done.

5-Notes on e-publishing: some work, but nowhere enough not to call this one a fail.

So… 3/5 successful tasks, plus enough work put in on the others to call that a 4/5. But the 500 words were mandatory, so it’s still a Fail overall. Close call, though (and given the week I’ve had, I feel okay about it.)

Goals for next week:

1-500 Words Redux. Same deal as last week.

2-Get the Tech Bible structured properly (and with some of the content put in) – there’s a lot of work to be done there, but I need to be satisfied with what I’ve done to call that a success.

3-Notes on e-publishing: at this point, I need to get at least the structure of the blog post completed. Which means finishing up the research.

4-Put it some work on the paid writing project. Not sure if I can finish it this week, but I want to be within sight of the finish line at least by next Monday.

5-Hammer out another blog post for my Secret Project – this represents at least 4-5 hours of work, but it’s very enjoyable work.

Well… let’s get to work!

Goals for the Week

Well, returning to work has been tough on my energy level and general motivation. As in, I didn’t get anything done this week.

In part this is due to general disorganization (and a stupidly large amount of stuff on my non-writing to-do list that I just don’t feel like handling… leading to copious amount of time wasted on the Internet.)

There’s one cure for that: an OFFICIAL TO-DO LIST!

So, by next Monday, I must:

1-Write 500 words on Book the Second. That’s a ridiculously low bar. But it’s a reasonable target given the rest.

2-Finish the last details I wanted to do on the Book the Second tech bible. That’s just copying manuscript notes into the Word document, so it’s a “whenever I have time” task.

3-Another Bonus Creativity post. I already know what it will be about, so it should be a couple of hours top.

4-Review my agent list – just basic maintenance work, again a matter of minutes.

5-Formalize my notes on e-publishing, and plan my blog post(s) on the matter.

Five goals. The passing grade is 3/5, but completing task 1 is mandatory. Let’s see how well I’ll do.

Back to Work

All good things come to an end. My paternity leave ends today, and so I must head back to work.

(Full disclosure, I have an easy first week, so don’t pay too much attention to my whining.)

So – did I do everything I wanted on my vacation?

1-Blogging:

Almost made it. In fact, I have another post already written up so technically I did everything I wanted there.

2-Writing:

Total, abject failure. I was more tired than I thought, but the real kicker was how exhausting being at home with the baby for entire days could be. Once I got past the initial sleep-twelve-hours-a-day period of my vacation, I had some time off in the evening, but my brain just wasn’t there.

And when I finally found energy again, well, we instead decided to put that energy to socialize a bit.

The good news is we now have a start date for daycare. So starting in June I should have prime quality time at home without the baby.

Now that the excuses are over… I did manage to work on the support documentation for Book the Second. Solved my main plot issue for the series, drew the world map, and even got started on the synopsis. But actual word count only went up by a few hundred (although I did get through a tough scene, so there’s that.)

3-Querying:

On track with what I wanted to do, but no movement on that front. Still, it’s not because I didn’t do my part, so I call this a win!

4-E-publishing:

I did some research. Surprisingly easier than I thought, but I still need to do more and write that post.

5-Other projects:

Started on some of the projects I had in mind (that’s the “in reserve” post), also stumbled into surprise projects that could generate me some money. So another net positive here.

So that’s what I did on my vacation.

A Dad and a Writer: Month Nine

This month has obviously been easier for me, what with the whole “paternity leave” thingy. Then again, I was exhausted, so maybe it’s a wash.

On the baby front, it’s been a fun few weeks. Lots of small steps forward (that translate to a few more seconds of free time every day.) We’ve made the switch from formula to cow milk, my son can now sit up without support which makes bathtime less time-consuming, and so on.

I’ve been able to put in more time on the “becoming a writer” front as a result. Not as much as I’d like, because I wanted to give this blog more attention and because I’ve taken on some paying writing work, which means that Book the Second is still progressing at a snail’s pace.

But the real lesson of this month is the importance of setting up a writing schedule and sticking to it. It’s a good approach to writing in general, but it’s never so apparent that it’s really a necessity as when external pressures play havoc with your time.

Since I’m on vacation, I’ve allowed myself some time off. But my girlfriend also (rightfully) wants me to spend time with her. I’m also spending more time with my son… which means that my schedule has changed. And so, I end up wasting my free time on the Internet because it’s not my usual writing hour.

Still, progress is happening (and for what it’s worth, catching up on my sleep and taking some actual brain-resting time off does help with my productivity.) And each day brings me closer to the glorious first day of daycare!

The Gameplan

Well, I’m on paternity leave. But I should have known that wouldn’t mean much more free time.

Objectively, I have about forty more hours per week. But I obviously wanted to spend some of that time with my son. We also had a fairly impressive backlog of household tasks that I had to get through. Plus, I’m apparently exhausted (surprising, I know) – I didn’t realize it in the high-speed grind of the work-fatherhood-writing lifestyle, but now that I have time to take it a bit easier, I’m barely making it through my days.

But if I want to accomplish anything in my remaining three weeks and change of “vacation”, I need to plan my workload out. So here we go:

1-Blogging:

My goal here is simple: two posts a week for the five weeks of my vacation. That should suffice to catch-up the few weeks I’ve missed this year, and to build a small buffer for emergencies.

There’ll be one Bonus Creativity post, one A Dad and a Writer, the Yeruldegger Just my Opinion, and at least one update on my queries. Beyond that… we’ll see.

2-Writing:

I sorely wanted to challenge myself to 300 words per day for the duration, but I’m just too exhausted. Instead, the goal is now “reach 8000 words in Book the Second.” I’m at slightly over 2000 now, so I feel that’s an achievable goal.

I also need to take an evening to work on the setting bible for Book the Second. I need to draw a quick world map, formalize how magic works in that universe, that sort of stuff.

As a tertiary goal, I really should write out a first version of the synopsis. It’s the kind of writing I could easily improve upon during my breaks at work. Plus, it’s a good way to spot any plot issues prior to writing out several thousand words.

3-Querying:

Well, I found one other agent which may be interested in Book the First, so I’ll query her in the next couple of days. Then I’ll spend a few hours reviewing the status of my last batch of queries. Except a query report at some point.

4-E-publishing:

As mentionned, I want to start looking at e-publishing Book the First. I need to do some research on that, so that’s likely to be the subject of a blog post at some point. Depending on the amount of work required to turn my manuscript into an e-book, I might want to get started on that during my vacation too.

5-Extra content:

I’ve got some ideas for additionnal material for this blog. We’ll see how that goes.

So that’s what I’m trying for in the next month or so. We’ll see how it goes.

A Dad and a Writer: Month 7 or so

A major change this month: we’ve moved my son’s crib back into his own room, which allowed us to also reorganize a lot of baby stuff and furniture. The net result is that we suddenly have a much, much less messy home – which shouldn’t matter, but it helps me focus. Cluttered house, cluttered mind indeed.

It also helps that the baby has settled into something ressembling a routine. I can generally expect three hours or so of uninterrupted time when he goes to bed, which translates to about an hour an a half of creative work (now that I’ve officially sent off my last queries for Book the First.)

Which means that my latest attempt at writing a second book is actually going well. I’ve managed to plan a series, to figure out the plot of the first book of said series, and to put a little over a thousand words on paper in a week and a half. How sustainable that rythm is remains to be seen, but it’s encouraging.

Agent Search Pre-Mortem: Three Mistakes

It’s a bit early to call Book the First dead (and besides, even if I don’t find an agent, I’ll self-publish it.) But I think I made some mistakes in my agent search, and I wanted to put them out there. Hopefully, this may help someone else.

So, if you’re pitching a book, avoid the following mistakes:

1-I failed to research what agents want:

That’s probably my biggest mistake: I think I wrote a great book, and one I think many people would enjoy… but it’s not one that many agents are looking for.

It’s New Adult (a category that agents shy away from), the main character is a young white male (in other words, exactly like the hero of fifty other manuscripts any given agent has looked at today), the book series which would make the best comparative is too big and popular to be a useable comp so I’m stuck using less appropriate comps… Those are all strikes against my manuscript.

Now… Some of those elements are why I managed to write my book. I wanted to tell a specific tale, and I did. But going forward, I need to be aware of agents’ preferences.

2-I rushed my query (and especially my synopsis):

I probably screwed myself out of at least one or two request for manuscripts by sending out a weak query and a frankly unacceptable synopsis early on. I really should have sat on my manuscript for a month or two while I perfected my pitch.

3-I didn’t manage my time properly when querying:

I should have been willing to wait before sending my queries… but I also should have been a lot more organized and efficient while sending them. I didn’t have a good workflow, which made it hard to push out custom-made queries, and I also tended to waste time hoping for responses (especially after sending my full or partial manuscript.) Bottom line: I should have been done with queries several months ago.

A Dad and a Writer: Month 6 and Change

Two small steps forward, one big step back.

That’s how fatherhood feels sometimes. The big step back, in this case, is the return of the broken nights and the associated sleep-deprivation. It’s a common issue as babies enter their sixth month: they begin to feel anxious when they wake up at night and their parents aren’t around.

It’s obviously hell on my ability to achieve my goals: I have some free time now after my son goes to bed… but I’m often very tired, or stressed out, plus I can’t plan on actually having a long stretch of uninterrupted time to write.

Still, so far, I’ve managed to stay on top of my goals for the year (if barely.) My last few queries are going out mostly on schedule, I’m reading regularly, posting content on time (more or less)… I’m not progressing as much as I’d like on my writing projects, but that’s in large part because I’m focusing on the other parts of my yearly plan.

Besides, I have paternity leave time coming up. I can’t imagine that five weeks of free time won’t let me make some major progress…

A Dad and a Writer: Month 3

So, as is painfully obvious from the posting hiatus, this isn’t working so well.

Don’t get me wrong, being a dad is awesome, my son is awesome, and life has been pretty good lately. But there’s just not enough time in the day to do anything anymore!

I’m not worried too much for the long term – we’ve secured a spot for the kid in the quite-awesome Quebec daycare system, so starting from next summer I’ll have entire days free for writing every week. And really, in a few months we’ll be out of the need-constant-attention phase, so I’ll be able to scrounge an hour here and there. But for now… even throwing a quick blog post together is a challenge.

… which means it’s time to adjust. Starting from now, I’m bringing my laptop to work. A thirty minute lunch break isn’t long, but it’s enough to get a few sentences out every day. And it’s really what I need – constant progress every day, so that I’m also motivated whenever I get time at home to write. Because right now, it’s hard to find that writing drive.

Hopefully, we’ll see that word count creep up soon.