Trying Out a New Program

I know this blog has been pretty quiet lately, and I apologize. I’m back to freelancing/looking for a new job, so there’s been a lot of changes in my life. But I’ve decided it’s a great opportunity to also devote more energy toward self-improvement and creativity.

Coincidentally, I recently was able to see Victoria (V.E.) Schwab on her recent tour stop at One Page More Books (By the way, everyone go read her books, especially A Darker Shade of Magic and A Gathering of Shadows).

During that evening, she mentioned her calendaring method. It rang a bell in my mind, so I made note to look it up when I got home. Here’s what I found.

To get a better sense of it, check out this tweet. And considering her productivity–I think she has something like 16 books under contract, and she was able to write three books while also attending grad school–I had to give this a try. So here we are.

Schwab Christensen calendar

My code is as follows: a yellow sticker for writing 500 words, a green sticker for reading 25 pages, a red sticker for 10 minutes of meditation, a blue sticker for going to the gym, and a purple sticker for writing a blog post or commenting in a genre forum. Yeah, yeah, I know. My standards are lower than Victoria’s. But I’m going for the “floss just one tooth” method–start small, and then grown the habit. I already got a double sticker yesterday, although I want to get more yellows–I don’t want to take nearly a year to write a first draft of my novel. And then every month I can revisit my standards and adjust accordingly.

But as you can see, it’s already having an effect: discipline, consistency, accountability. It makes it harder to skip weekends. and it keeps me on my program at the gym. Victoria was right. Productivity has gone up, and I expect it to keep going up. One step at a time, every day.

Forget Finding the Time. Find the Motivation

Time for a very cliche bit of writerly whining, so feel free to keep reading, nodding your head all the way, or you can just wait until my next blog post.

So as I mentioned recently, I started a new job in December, and since then, I’ve been trying different ways to rebalance my schedule. But answer to the question of “where can I find the time to write?” is easy. I get 30 mins for lunch, and I have my evenings. It’s not a ton of time, but it’s enough. It adds up. I just need to fill that time writing.

But what I’ve been more surprised with is the fact hat my job is writing and editing. I spend all day doing this. Even better, I get to write and edit pieces about material that I find interesting. So it’s a pleasure to do this job. The problem becomes that when I’m off the clock, I find it hard to keep writing and editing. It’s so much easier to read, watch TV, or just hang out with my wife or friends.

Like all writerly whining, I think the answer might just be to get mind my right so I can get back to work. I need to make sure my stories are as exciting and compelling as possible so that writing them is a pleasure and not a chore. And maybe I should make time for crazier experiments–those really weird stories that are perhaps indulgent, but they make me smile. If nothing else, it will help me maintain a daily writing habit and positive attitude.

And speaking of indulgent, I should probably wrap up this whining. Good night, everybody.

My First Blog Post at the New Job

So last time I posted, I mentioned that I had a new job. Well, I’ve hit the ground running at the Aspen Institute: meeting people, learning about the programs, and even sitting in on some of the events. And I even have written a blog post about one of those events–a discussion between NYT Chief Washington Correspondent David Sanger and WaPo Associate Editor and Columnist David Ignatius, focusing on Ignatius’s latest novel, THE DIRECTOR; the hacking of Sony; the Torture Report; and more. Check it out if you’re a fan of spy novels, national security, or are as fascinated by the Sony thing as I am.

As for writing, well, I’m still reconstructing my broken NaNoWriMo novel, and I’m working with a writing group, so more to come on that front as it develops.

Have a great holiday everyone! Look for me once all the festivities have passed.

New Job and New Schedule

So this past week was my first at my new job. It flew by–meeting co-workers, filling out administrative paperwork, and getting started on projects. The real trick is going to be attending to all the other parts of my life.

I know, I know. Those of you who work full-time jobs are thinking, “Yeah, so?” But after freelancing since early 2012, I’ve kind of forgotten how to make sure I blog, I write fiction, and other things while also getting my job done and taking care of my household.

That explains why the blog went quiet. But, I think I’ve got a better handle on things. So expect more posts. And as for writing, well, my production has gone way down since the end of October. So I need to make up for that. But the good news is that I’ve reconnected with a few folks from an old writing group, and a new one is in the works. That will keep my toes to the fire.

All right, it’s Sunday night, and I’m tired. Go enjoy what’s left of your weekend. I’ll see you next week.