February Accountability Roundup, or: Bring it, March!

February, oh, February, where did you go? While I definitely got quite a bit of editing in, overall I only added about 10,000 words to this draft. This is what happens when all the conferences and writing events happen in a month. castle-you-should-be-writing

On a happier note, I also had some major break-throughs, which should make work in March much more streamlined and effective. Either way, I have some serious deadlines to crack in March, including:

  • Finishing these revisions by 3/31
  • Finishing my master's coursework for this semester by 3/20
  • Help planning a writing conference (and giving two workshops for said conference)

So, basically, this will be me in March: cat-deadline-is-coming-animated-gif

I may be a bit of a masochist, but I actually work better under pressure, mainly because I'll be utterly out of excuses to dither or to become wholly absorbed in the crush of self-doubt. Here are some other things that work for me when things get crazy:

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  • Coffee. Lots of it. Obviously.

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  • Obsessive planning. To-do lists are my friend and my bullet journal my trusty side-kick. Checking off things is incredibly satisfying.

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  • Scrivener word count targets. Also, I'm going to start using this spreadsheet to tally up my daily work.

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  • Noise-canceling headphones. It also serves as my signal that I'm working, so my wife, whom I'm sharing an office with, will let me be (fortunately, she's great about that.)

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  • Getting up early. Yeah, 5 a.m. is cruel, but I feel so energized when writing is the first thing I do in the morning. So, instead of giving up something for Lent, I'll instead commit to those early morning hours and deal.

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Bonus: Spring break! I'll actually be off for 10 days at the end of March. This will be my "dead week" of edits. So, yeah, March. Bring it!

Anyway, that's my list, what's yours? Tell me all your secrets to getting stuff done, because I definitely need them.

On that note, cheers and happy writing!

Monthly Accountability Roundup: What I Wrote and Read in January 2017

Okay, I haven't been doing these for a few months and I don't know about you, but I always am SO much better at staying accountable to my own goals whenever I publicly share them with someone. So here I am, back at monthly accountability posts due to go live the last day of each month, so I can briefly recap what I read and wrote this month. I'm also still doing my calendar, complete with color-coded magnets. I've changed up the way I use my green magnets though to account for either 500 words written or one hour edited to better keep track of time spent editing. In my bullet journal I log both hours edited and words added each day to help keep track.

Before I launch into what I did get done in January, here is a quick overview of my goals I set for myself for the first half of the year:

  • Finish up this revision of my Bi Agent Carter book by 3/31
  • Draft a sequel/side project by 6/30
  • Write pitches and plot out two new ideas

That said, here's how January went down:

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Writing:

  • Goal: Add at least 20k in edits/revisions to MENTAL NOTE
  • Words added: 21,145

Since I'm switching between counting hours edited and words added for each day, I can't really average things out, but looking at my calendar shows that January definitely had a bit of a slow start, but once I got back into the swing of things (and had my house and writing nook back to myself after my house guest left!) everything really started to take off. This draft of MN is currently sitting at 44k and I am hoping to add about 25k to this through February, bringing it right around 70k.

Also, I have started using weekly writing goals to set weekly goals that I keep track of with #WeeklyWritingGoals. This method is based on the Agile Project Management approach and really helps to make up for those days where writing just has to take a backseat. By setting a weekly goal, it's okay to miss a day--as long as you figure out a way to catch up at the end of the week. Anyway, my goal for this week is to add 10k to this novel and I am about 2.5k into it, so here's to that.

Reading:

I love signing up for the Goodreads Reading Challenge every new year. Usually I like to shoot for 100 books a year, but given that I made it to 135 in 2016, I decided to shoot for the lofty goal of 150 books read in 2017. January definitely was a good month for reading. Between binge-reading some m/m romance and participating in #DiverseAThon, I managed to read 20 books altogether. Here's a list of what I read:

  • Ms. Marvel Vol. 6: Civil War II - G. Willow Wilson
  • No. 6 The Manga Vol. 1 - Atsuko Asano
  • Widdershins - Jordan L. Hawk
  • Threshold - Jordan L. Hawk
  • Stormhaven - Jordan L. Hawk
  • Moon over Soho - Ben Aaronovitch
  • Necropolis - Jordan L. Hawk
  • Bloodline - Jordan L. Hawk
  • No. 6 The Manga Vol. 2 - Atsuko Asano
  • Hoarfrost - Jordan L. Hawk
  • Maelstrom - Jordan L. Hawk
  • Whispers Under Ground - Ben Aaronovitch
  • Your Inner Critic is a Big Jerk - Danielle Krysa
  • The Summer Palace - C. S. Pacat
  • Hunter of Demons - Jordan L. Hawk
  • Fallow - Jordan L. Hawk
  • History Is All You Left Me - Adam Silvera
  • When the Moon Was Ours - Anna-Marie McLemore
  • Of Fire and Stars - Audrey Coulthurst
  • The Left Hand of Darkness - Ursula K. Le Guin

So, yes, lots of reading. I hope to keep it up, because reading begets writing for me and I love to be in the zone like this. Unfortunately it often means far too little sleep, but who needs sleep anyway.

So, anyway, here goes to writing and editing 25k in February and reading just as many books!

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What are your goals for this year? For next month? Let me know in the comments!

Cheers and happy writing (and reading)!

Alex

Let's talk about accountability! #WeeklyWritingGoals

weeklywritinggoals Okay, I am probably not the only one slightly thrown by the end of 2016 and the start of the new year. Still, apologies for the impromptu blogging hiatus as I had to prioritize writing for a bit.

Be that as it may, January 2017 if already half over and many a lofty new year's resolution probably already lapsed. Let's make sure writing doesn't go the way of half-hearted new year's resolutions--especially for those of us who have deadlines to uphold.

I'm a huge goal-setter and a bit of an accountability junkie myself, so here's something new I want to try and I'd love for people to join me in sharing their weekly writing goals. The idea is loosely based on the Agile project management approach in which instead of setting a daily goal, you instead break goals into manageable weekly project goals, just in case you have a day where writing does have to take the backseat.

In 2017, I will still do monthly accountability roundups at the end of each month, but I'll supplement that with brief weekly check-ins. I'm expanding this to Twitter and Facebook using the #WeeklyWritingGoals tag and invite you all to join me.  The whole point is that it's quick, easy, and communal so we can all cheer each other in. I'll post my goals and checkins every Monday but feel free to use whatever day best works for you. Just tag it with #WeeklyWritingGoals

My #WeeklyWritingGoals for January 16-22 are: 

  • Add 7k in revisions/rewrites to MENTAL NOTE, my Bi Agent Carter WIP
  • Outline and begin drafting the sequel to EMPIRE OF LIGHT, tentatively titled REPUBLIC OF SHADOWS (This will be my side project as time allows; I'm planning to get the first chapter or so drafted by Sunday.)

What are your #WeeklyWritingGoals? Share them with me on Twitter (follow @AlexHarrowSFF), FB or in a comment here.

Happy Writing and see you next week!

Accountability Roundup: What I Wrote and Read in August

So, August. The end of summer. The beginning of a new school year and a new semester of my master's degree. And yet, I set out with the ambitious goal of writing 25,000 words this month to bring my current draft of Mental Note to 40,000 words. Here are my stats: 2016-08-31 21.25.01

Writing:

  • Goal: 800 words a day or at least one hour of editing a day
  • Total word goal for August: 25,000
  • Total Words written: 24,571
  • Total writing (and editing) days: 14 (+3 pure editing days)
  • Average words/writing day: 1,755
  • Best writing day: August 24 (3,872 words)

Okay, so, even though I'm 429 words short of my goal, I am considering this month a huge success. Yes, that includes the fact that I am finding that I totally have to go back and edit the shit out of the first 40,000 words of this new draft, but that's okay. Thanks to writing group feedback I've pinpointed some of the underlying issues with this draft that I really need to fix before moving on and that's a good things.

Another pattern that's apparent is that my writing and editing momentum tapered off dramatically once school started. Seriously, my writing to nap ratio basically grew in the inverse. I am fixing that. As a matter of fact, today was the first day where I felt my old stamina and energy come back. With the beginning of the new school year and getting used to 240-ish new students that much was to be expected. As I'm facing September, I aim to do better. Also, huge shoutout to #AugWritingChallenge and the awesome people who have helped keep me accountable. Looking forward to September already! Plus, fall! My favorite writing season!

Reading:

  • Goal: 8 books/month toward a total of 100 this year
  • Total books read in August: 15

Holy writing and reading month Batman. I guess writing begets reading. I do love when the two go hand in hand. I completed the fun Pokemon-inspired #ReadThemAllThon challenge, which was an added boost. Here's what I read in August:

  • Kiersten White - AND I DARKEN: I seriously cannot rave enough about this book! Just go read it!
  • J.K. Rowling et. al - HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD: What can I say? I am a sucker for HP fanfic and probably always will be.
  • Dahlia Adler - UNDER THE LIGHTS: Not my usual, but I enjoyed it. Vanessa was awesome.
  • Kameron Hurley - THE GEEK FEMINIST REVOLUTION: This book incensed and inspired me. So much yes.
  • Stacey Lee - UNDER A PAINTED SKY: I loved the prose and tense action in this one. Again, I don't usually read Western, but this YA was just a lot of fun.
  • Tanya Huff - THE HEART OF VALOR (Confederation, #3): This series just keeps getting voicer and more and more character-driven. Love the audio.
  • Sarah Kuhn - HEROINE COMPLEX: Yes, I'm a sucker for subversions of comic book tropes. This was lots of fun.
  • Sabaa Tahir - AN EMBER IN THE ASHES: I positively devoured this in one sitting. Could not put down.
  • Sara Farizan - TELL ME AGAIN HOW A CRUSH SHOULD FEEL: I really liked how this book played with some tropes and twisted it into something that both made me happy and was totally unexpected.
  • Kekla Magoon - HOW IT WENT DOWN: I mostly read this for my students. I think this fictionalized Trayvon Martin-esque story is important and I'm glad to have it in my classroom.
  • Kate Elliott - COURT OF FIVES - I loved the nuanced way this book treated classism and family ties. More, please!
  • Roshani Chokshi - THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN: The prose in this is gorgeous. I just wanted more plot to go along with it.
  • Matthew Quick - FORGIVE ME, LEONARD PEACOCK: Yeah, have to say,  this book wasn't for me. I thought that the treatment of mental illness and gay relationships was highly problematic, so, not for me.
  • Heidi Heilig - THE GIRL FROM EVERYWHERE: This was such a cool, diverse twist on the pirate YA genre. I loved the world building and the writing. Also, Kashmir!
  • Pat Schmatz - LIZARD RADIO: This read like dystopian conversion camps with lizards! Fast-paced and fun!

Okay, wow, that's quite a list for this month. Anyway, I'm going to try something new for September and try to track my time edited instead of words written, because that's basically where I am at with this WIP. Also, I upped my reading goal from 100 books in 2016 to 150. This might be as lofty as my TBR, but we'll see. Challenges abound!

Until then, happy writing!