Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Happy 2019!

Crazy asparagus growing in my garden: January 2019
Happy New Year, Y’all!

Well, its ten days after the first, but you can say "Happy New Year" all throughout January, right?

If you’re anything like me, you are probably already a bit overwhelmed with the tasks of everyday life. Over the last few weeks I’ve been closing out my goals for 2018 and getting them solidified for 2019. Some of my goals for 2019 are repeats from previous years. If you watched my Facebook Live on December 30th over on the Rachel Pilcher Writing WorkshopsFacebook page or the replay on YouTube, you already know that I picked five goals for my writing year:
1.       Create workbooks for all of my online classes. (speaking of, my first workshop, Write Fearlessly in the New Year, is coming up on Saturday, January 19th. Join me!)
2.       Blog at least once a week (and…I’m working on that.)
3.       Do more than just business writing.
4.       Submit to my critique group every month.
5.       Finalize my screenplay.

None of this is unrealistic. I just have to work on it. I need to use those open times when I’d normally mindlessly flip through Facebook or Instagram and write. By analyzing how I use my time, I can certainly do all that I have planned. I think the most challenging goal will be #3-do more than just business writing. I do a lot of writing for my business. In teaching writing, you have to do writing. Sometimes this tricks my brain into thinking that I’ve done my writing for the day if I’ve spent two hours writing. Nope. I need to do creative writing, as well.

On Sunday I participated in an online live workshop called Tranquility du Jour Live with Kimberly Wilson. This is a free seasonal offering where she guides the participants through setting intentions for the season. I always have a takeaway from this, and this time around was no exception. I’ve been trying to set my word of intention for the year for the past couple of weeks. I kept bouncing back and forth between several words, but Sunday I finally settled on one: Focus. All of my issues that I have with writing, reading, or even completing some simple tasks can all be attributed to a lack of focus.

Focus. Something we all need more of in this multitasking world.

I like it.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Winter Break Means Time to Think and Write!

It’s the day after Christmas and I’ve given myself two days of my winter break to relax. Today is a workday for me. I’ve never been so excited to get into my office and get to work! In preparation for winter, I moved my citrus trees in the house. I currently have a fully blooming Meyer lemon tree directly behind my desk. It smells lovely and in a few months will give me quite a nice supply of lemons. It's definitely a scent-spiration to work!

Just a quick bit of promotion: If you’ve ever taken my Write Fearlessly course in person, or always wanted to, but just couldn’t make it out on the day it was scheduled, I now have an online class scheduled on Saturday, January 19, 2019 at 10am CST that you can take from the comfort of your home! To read more about it and to register, click here.

I’ve been contemplating my work- as a librarian, a writer, an instructor, and publisher. There are certain goals that I’ve set in place for myself when it comes to my work and I'm pretty cut and dry when it comes to thinking those goals are being met. I do well in structured environments. I do well when I can have a daily or weekly checklist and accomplish tasks every day, marking the tasks off that list. I do well with few interruptions. I do well when the job that I’m supposed to be doing is the job that I am actually tasked doing.

The day job, as a librarian, is morphing into something that it was not originally and I’m not sure that I want to do that particular job- If I did, I would have applied for that job! It’s not that I can’t do it. I can. I just see that eventually the gig will be up and the powers that be will decide that they don’t need to pay someone as much as they pay me—or librarians, in general—to do the work they have cornered us into. I’m not 100% sure what I’m going to do about it, but I know that it won’t be sitting around, just letting others decide what my job responsibilities are. For now, though, I’m doing the work until another option becomes available.

As for my work as a writer, instructor and publisher...there will be a renewed focus on this in 2019. If only I could make those my day job!?! Well, I’m going to push the limits to see how much I can grow them. I see this particular work like sourdough bread starter: you can let it go dormant a bit, but if you begin to feed it, the growth will take off. I’m looking forward to that growth and I hope you will join me on that journey.

Oh, and coming up this Sunday, December 30th at 6pm CST, I will be live discussing writing goals for the New Year over on the Rachel Pilcher Writing Workshops Facebook page. Let’s talk!

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Online Classes are FINALLY Coming: January 2019!
It’s been a long time since I was last excited about teaching a workshop. If I looked at my calendar, I could probably say exactly when the last live class I taught was, but off the top of my head, not so much. I’ve been working for almost a year to develop my first stand alone class via Udemy. I’ve had a few setbacks, mostly due to me prioritizing other tasks in front of getting the class ready, but also just being unsure how everything will translate from my live class. For anyone who has ever put something important off, you know how down it can make you feel to not accomplish something that you really wanted to do. I’ve gotten downright depressed about it.

Today, though, it finally hit me that I could still do online classes, and actually do them live instead of pre-recording them! I really don’t know why it didn’t come to me sooner, especially since both my school district and several other classes I’ve taken online have used Zoom to do online conferencing webinars. It was like hitting me over the head with a brick when I figured this out. Why hadn’t I thought of it sooner? I will still work towards getting my classes on Udemy because they will be accessible at any time anyone would want to take them, but live online classes will definitely be happening in January 2019!

The signup will go live in a week or two for my first online class, Write Fearlessly in the New Year. I’m so thrilled to finally be back in the teaching game!

Friday, November 2, 2018

NaNoWriMo Day 2: I’m Already Ahead (But I’m Not Going to Let it Go to My Head)

Day 1: I woke up. I wrote.
It’s quite surprising to find that, when I put my mind to it, I can actually accomplish something! Well, it’s really all about having the discipline to make something happen. This is how I’m seeing this year’s NaNoWriMo- I’ve decided to have the discipline it takes to complete the goal for each day. How do you write a 50,000 word rough draft of a novel? You break it down by how many words per day that you have to have. In this case, it takes a minimum of 1,667 words every day to get all the words in by 11:59pm November 30th. For me, since I did plan and do a basic outline per chapter/story, it comes to a little over an hour of writing. My goal is to write more than that over several days. I’ve been writing this paragraph for about three minutes and right here…that’s 148 words. It is that easy! And…it is only Day 2, so I may be getting ahead of myself with the back patting.
The hardest part I’m finding for this whole process is not just doing the writing, its making the time to write. For me, I have to get up extra early—by 5am—to get things done. I’m most creative when I’m not tired, and I absolutely love sleeping, so going to bed early is a must. You may wonder, when do I socialize if I’m in bed by 9pm? Well, when do most people who keep regular hour jobs socialize? On the weekends!
I think the other disciplinary action I have to take with this is to try not to edit while I write. Editing breaks the flow of ideas, which will definitely impact the word count. It also takes up precious time that I could be working on something else.
My goal with doing NaNo for this year is to see exactly how much I can get done by doing the minimum, or close to it, a day. There are a few days, like on Fridays when I meet with Shut Up and Write, that I know I will bust those numbers and possibly double them. That’s okay, because that will help me down the road when Thanksgiving break comes and I want to have a bit of fun.
My hope in doing the 5am writings will be to help me get back into an early morning writing habit by the end of the month. To know that if I actually try, I can get the majority of a novel rough draft written in one month of disciplined writing. If I can do that, there is no reason why I couldn’t do it every month.

Join me over on the Rachel Pilcher Writing Workshops Facebook page  on November 4th at 6pm CST for Facebook Live Episode 15, where I’ll be discussing more about my writing process, which includes what I’m doing for NaNoWriMo! I hope to see you there!

Friday, October 26, 2018

National Novel Writing Month is Coming...Are You Ready?

Watch the video from our Facebook Live Episode 14: Should You NaNoWriMo?

National Novel Writing Month is just around the corner and I’m actually contemplating participating this year. I’ve never successfully completed a NaNoWriMo, but it looks like this year will be different—I am determined for it to be so, at least!

My plan for NaNo this year is to write at least one short story a day for a book of vignettes I've been planning for a while. How I plan to do this is fairly simple-
Get up by 5am every day (should be easy if I am in bed by 9pm!). Do my morning ritual of pet care and coffee making.
Do my morning pages for 15-20 minutes.
Write for 1 hour.
Get ready for work.
At work, on any downtime I may have, write a few lines, especially at lunch.

When the ideas are there, I tend to write pretty quickly. The key to making this happen, though, is to plan way ahead so that all I have to do is sit down and work on the story. This means outlining. I’ve already made a list of short story topics I want to explore and I’ve been adding. I’d love to be able to be a Pantser, but unfortunately I have a problem with concentration. This means that I must outline so I can quickly figure out where to pick up from where I left off.

Recently I did a Facebook Live video (linked above, but also posted to the RachelPilcher Writing Workshops YouTube channel- which I'd love for you to subscribe to!) about participating in NaNoWriMo. Check it out and let’s cheer each other on!

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Should You NaNoWriMo? On Facebook Live, October 21st at 6pm CST

Just a quick announcement: Join me on Sunday, October 21st at 6pm CST over on the  Rachel Pilcher Writing Workshops Facebook page for Episode 14: Should You NaNoWriMo? I’ll explain what it is for the uninitiated and will help with strategies to make your attempt to win a success.

Monday, October 1, 2018

The Queen of Making Do...

Deviced Up.
There comes to a point when your brain just shuts down. You aren’t able to really function with anything other than autopilot, taking care of just the most immediate problems right before you.
I am in this mode right at this moment. I can’t do a “to do” list because I may only get to one item on that list. Too many other issues are taking over my life right now: student laptops, teacher technology issues, voter registration, conference room reservations (or lack thereof), or meetings. The day job is just wearing me out! My last entry was about the Cult of Busy. It seems as if my life read that and said, “Here, hold my beer.”
I have been so tired, I haven’t felt like exercising, writing (either creatively or in my journal), cleaning my house, or anything really productive other than making dinner, getting ready for bed, sleeping, getting up, and going into work. I’ve actually had to take a few mental health days just to relax enough to do any other work.
In saying all of this, even though I know that my life is going through one of those busy periods, it has really depressed me not to be able to do what I need to do in my personal/business life. My brain does not function well on multitasking, so the moment that I have more than three things going at once, I start to shut down. That began to happen about two weeks ago. It’s not the best feeling in the world. I begin to have thoughts of running away when that happens. The whole “anything is better than this” idea begins to float through my head. Managing a Taco Casa starts to actually sound realistic and less stressful.
Obviously, running away is not the solution. Figuring out ways to get it all done is also not the answer. What will make this better? I’m not sure at this time. Perhaps just taking a few of my personal/business duties off the table for now will work—I am the only one who will be disappointed if those don’t get done. Maybe taking a few extra mental health days will do, as well—if I don’t do it for mental health, it may actually make me sick to keep on this track.
Meanwhile, I pray that the new Chromebooks the kids will be getting soon will alleviate the issues with student laptops. That has been the biggest headache. The rest, well…I can make do on those. I just have to.