Saturday, March 26, 2011

Writing Ninjas

A while back I had the pleasure of meeting Ali Cross in a TPR session where we swapped blogs and Twitter. She is an amazingly determined writer that can pound out an ungodly word count each day (I'm insanely jealous).
Ninja I doodled corresponding with my current belt rank.
About a week ago I was blog hoppin when I ran across something on her blog that caught my attention. Ninjas. How cool are ninjas! I even have the ninja job in Final Fantasy XI that I love to play just to smack things around. And in the Ninjas vs Pirates debate, ninjas totally rule.
Ali's ninjas are different. Her ninjas are writing ninjas! She developed The Dojo to be a lot like nanowrimo, but has added on to the concept. For one, it can be any month of the year. Next she adds different ninja classes depending on what you are doing with your writing.
Writing- ninowrimo
Revising- ninoremo
Query- ninoqumo
Every class can be followed on twitter with it's own hashtag.
On Thursday of every week, Ali hosts a chat at the dojo for all the ninjas to meet, greet, and tell how they are doing on their goals.
Ali has developed a fabulous writing group that grows bigger every week, and they are all so supportive to their fellow ninjas.
I just want to thank them all for the warm welcome into their dojo, and say what an honor it is to write alongside them. *bows*
Ta!
A.McBay

Friday, March 25, 2011

With the determination of a one year old


This week my one year old son learned to climb. Before he was good at getting in bed, or up on the couch, but this week I have been pulling him off the kitchen table, and more importantly my office desk. He screams like a banshee when I pull him from his latest conquest, but as soon as I put him down he is back to climbing. He loves my computer, and this morning I lost thirty minutes of writing time trying to fix it, but as soon as I got up to refill my coffee cup he pulled out the bottom drawer (it doesn't lock like the rest), and was bashing away at my keyboard before I could dash across the kitchen, and to the back of my office to pull him away. I am at the point that I move the table chairs to block my office so that he is unable to get on the table, but it doesn't stop him from plowing through the barrier and getting to my desk. His single minded determination is astounding!

During one of the times when I was digging him out of my desk drawer, I got to thinking, when do we lose that determination? When we are young we believe that we are able to do anything we set our minds to, but as we grow doubt sets in, and we begin to give up more easily.

My mother has always encouraged me that you can do whatever you set your mind to, and it's something I have come to live by. When I joined the military, everyone doubted I would make it through basic, but I stuck with it and proved them all wrong.

I hope to regain the determination of a one year old. Right now, I'm determined to finish WF!

What goals are you determined to achieve?

Ta!

A.McBay

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Thuper Thursday: Will resume next week

With the move, travel, my new writing regime, and of course my little monsters demand for attention, I got a little off track with my Thuper Thursday posts. It's times like these that I am thuper thankful for the amazing people in my life, and I really need to keep recognizing them individually here on my blog.
While unpacking the garage of our masses of boxes I finally found my Thuper Thursday Box, and had Allyssa pull a name from it today. I look forward to writing about the lucky star of next week!
While I did end up removing one person from my box (for constantly letting me down and hurting those I love), I'll be adding more names of people I adore in the next week.
On a side note, I've joined the Ninja's over at ninowrimo, giving me more push to up my word count each day.
My Pomodoro technique continues to work for me and I'm getting more done each day on WF. Can I finish by the end of the month?
We'll see!
Ta!
A.McBay

TechJunkie

I love new electronics. Since I was a kid, I was always saving for the newest gameboy (I loved and still love Pokemon) and other gaming systems, I learned the basics of fixing computers and how to make them work for me and my art, bought one of the first e-readers from ebookwise.com (back before there were smartphones, nooks, and Kindles), and now am obsessed with my smartphone.

You would think a person who stays home 90% of the week wouldn't need such a phone, but I'm on the thing from the time I wake to the time I go to bed. Like this morning for instance, I woke at 4:30am when my allergies refused to let me sleep, so while I sucked down some coffee (no sense in going back to bed when I can get some work done in the quiet) I was blog hoppin on the greader app.

After catching up with the happenins of my writer buds, I jumped over to my writing app and worked on WF's current chapter only using one hand, holding a coffee mug in my other hand.

I could have even written this blog from my Galaxy S, but I was ready to get to my recently rearranged office, and see how the fung shuy felt. Arrangement of a room can have a huge impact on how the creative juices flow ya know! So far it seems comfortable enough, but I do miss the way it was. Unfortunately until I find the curtains I want to put up in my office, the morning sun's glare on my screen becomes a major distraction.

Somewhere along the way I got distracted on where I was going on this post…

Oh ya! Phone obsession, I got it.

Oh look! It's TPR time! Time to get a couple Pomodoro in this AM. Start the PomoApp!

Ta!

A.McBay

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Wanna Play?

Yesterday I started using the Pomodoro Technique. I used it for cleaning, for studying, and for writing. Did it work? I like to think it did. I managed to cram a lot into my day yesterday without overwhelming myself.
When I started using Pomodoro this morning for my writing sessions, I had the idea of making it a game. Each 25 minute Pomodoro I log how many words I managed in that section, and try to beat that number in my next session. At the end of the day you can tally up your total. Did you do better or worse than the previous day?
There are no rewards other than your own self-satisfaction, or loathing if you didn't do as good.
Here is a Pomo Writing Game score sheet you can download.
I hope someone finds this useful and fun. Let me know if you play, what your scores are, and if it helped you to be more productive.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Pomo Productive

I'm a huge procrastinator, especially when it comes to my writing. I often let myself get distracted by kids, dogs, tidying, blogs, and of course Facebook and Twitter. It was during on of my major procrastinations of blog hopping that I stumbled  across a technique to help you be more productive called the Pomodoro Technique.

You can check out the downloads page HERE that has the PDF download, to-dos sheets, worksheets, and more.

Here is the basics for how Pomodoro works:
  1. Choose a task to be accomplished
  2. Set the Pomodoro to 25 minutes (the Pomodoro is the timer)
  3. Work on the task until the Pomodoro rings, then put a check on your sheet of paper
  4. Take a short break (5 minutes is OK) 
  5. Every 4 Pomodoros take a longer break.
This technique organizes your time, and helps you to eliminate your tasks one at a time, keeping you focused by using short timers with the reward of a break at the end. If you failed to finish your task at hand, then you can start another 25 minute session after your break and continue until your timer rings again.
I'm still trying to figure out if it would be best to set my writing tasks by how many words I write, or if I should go by how many pages I can write in my 25 minute Pomos. I guess I will just have to test them out throughout this week and see which works best.
Hopefully this will help me mange my time better so that I will get more done in the day, including more writing.
What techniques do you use to help you stay productive?
Edit:
While trying to find a timer on my android phone, I found an app called Promodroido that makes your promodoro times a game that you can achieve levels. What fun! I can definitely see this app working for me!


Ta!
A.McBay

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Where was I?

This blog has been unusually quiet the past few weeks. It's been a busy year what with the move, then my sister's humongous wedding, road tripping to OK and back, then when I get back I get orders for Muster Duty from reserves (It's just spending a day on base updating my reserves info, but hey, at least I get paid for it). I haven't had time to do Thuper Thursday, but hopefully things can start to settle down enough that I can get back my routines. I would still like to rearrange my sleep schedule so that I go to bed before 10pm and get up at 5am. This way I have a bit more quiet time and I'm not so exhausted from the day. Yeah, that plan isn't going so well. My body refuses to accept the change.

Unfortunately, my writing has suffered and I have lost the direction I was going with the end of this book. I miss the days when my characters screamed at me until I wrote the scene they demanded. My head feels lonely as I sit around mooping all day, a resounding echo through the empty chasm, "Hellooo? Where did ya'll go? We're not done here!"

Yesterday I spent most of my time cleaning, and plotting. My husband can always tell when I'm stuck. He says I get this vacant look, as if I'm looking for something that's not there. It helped somewhat to shove my headphones on last night while I lay in bed and listen to my MS through my Kindle. I always enjoy going back, finding things I can change and treasures that I had forgotten about. I'm hoping that will be enough to jumpstart my writing battery.

As always, my TPR gang has been there pushing me along and giving me the support needed. Sometimes we all just take a day to moop together, and some days we celebrate our productiveness.

I'm reading a great self-editing book called Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Second Edition: How to Edit Yourself Into Print. It has some great advice and I'm already looking forward to going back and revising. I love reading books on the craft. They lift my spirits and give me the courage I need to keep going. Just knowing that I learn something new every day that I write, gives me purpose to write more.

I had the pleasure of asking the wonderful Kim Harrison (The author who inspired me to write in the first place) what she did when she got the end of the draft blues. Here is what she advised:

"It might help to take a few days and plot out just how you want the story to end, and then write a few pages about what you want to write afterward, just to get you excited about the next project. Sometimes, though, you just have to tell yourself that you will sit in your chair, ignore all distractions, and chuck words onto the page to get it done. Don't worry about making them good words right now. Just get them on the page so you know what needs to be fixed." – Kim Harrison

So that's what I'm doing, plotting. I take notes, I delete notes, and I make more notes. Soon maybe I will find the right path and finally make it to The End.