Progress, But Is There Purpose?

It’s been a busy couple of weeks at school. End of semester, final exams, last minute makeup work to grade, then the start of a new semester and a whole crop of new students. I’m starting my check-in this way because all of this may actually be why I’m not feeling a lot of focus around my goals even while I’m getting some things done. My perceptions may be skewed at the moment.

These were last week’s goals and what got done:

  • Write and publish a blog post for MuseCraft–DONE
  • Write at least the bare bones of a second post–STARTED
  • Spend at least 15 minutes working on the web page for the new offering I want to put up–NOT DONE
  • Do writing practice at least twice–NOT DONE
  • Find three recipes to make and freeze next weekend for future meals–NOT DONE (although I did get a giant box of frozen meatballs to use for easy dishes and made a list of dishes to use them in)
  • Get my embroidery project stuff reorganized so I can get back to that and eventually finish it.–STARTED

So, things done. Things not done. But I’m feeling like it’s all been in the background of doing all the things I need to do every day. I don’t actually know if this is a problem. It feels a little bit like a problem. I think I want a shining light that I’m aiming for. Instead, I’m just moving along, but I don’t see anything I’m heading toward. Anyhow, these are things to think about. Meanwhile, I’ll keep moving.

For the coming week, some more pointed goals (experimenting here):

  • Write another MC blog post
  • Share the post more than once
  • Share older posts at least twice
  • Rearrange my couch working area and put a notebook for blog post notes in easy reach
  • Do writing practice about what I want to aim for
  • Set up a work pouch for the embroidery project

I like the feel of this list. I’m looking forward to seeing how it feels as I work through it. Hope we all have a great week!

The Little Things

Embroidery floss organizing project in process

I love details. No, I need details. I need things to be just so. Not everything, but my important things. Notebooks and pens and paper and how I keep things like embroidery floss and my most-used and loved art supplies.

Sometimes my need for the just-so makes me take a long time to get started or do things. And for many years I thought that this was part of my procrastination tendency. I thought it was a way of stalling or not starting at all. And just today–actually just about a minute ago–I realized that’s not what’s happening. At least not all the time.

When I figure out exactly how I need a thing to be so that it works right for me, then I use the thing and do the thing. And for years, especially in recent years with the growing deluge of productivity articles and coaches, I believed that I needed to stop working to find what’s just right and just plow forward. Get things done! Just do it!

I don’t stick with those things, though. Or if I do, I don’t like it. I don’t feel happy with what I’m doing. Things feel off. So it’s important for me to allow for the daydreaming time and the experimenting with different things so I can find my just-so spot. The trick is to find a balance between getting what I need and using this for procrastination.

Right now I’m trying out keeping a single notebook, and I have paused several times because I’m working out just how I need it to be. Until today and my lightbulb moment, I thought I was just avoiding doing work. Today I realized that I’m creating the tools and containers that will let me do the work. Funny thing is, as soon as I noticed this I figured out how to handle one of the issues I was hung up on (taking notes from a book I’m reading while also continuing daily notes) in a way that will let me do both kinds of notes while also feeling workable and comfortable for me.

This past week has been about organizing and putting things in place to be used. There’s also been some writing practice and a bit of blogging. Mostly, though, it’s been about readying those containers and tools. This coming week, this is what I’m planning to do:

  • Create at least the template for the image for my new creative dream tarot spread offering
  • Write a MuseCraft blog post
  • Participate in the Instagram Colour My Everyday challenge I ran across today
  • Continue daily decluttering through the end of January

It’s finals week, so there will be lots of grading of late work that kids are finally turning in. There will also be lots of making sure everything is ready to go for the first day of the new semester next week, so I think this short-but-sweet goals list is enough for this week.

I hope your week is sweet whether it’s short or long!

Choices

I’ve been thinking about something, or maybe around something, for a couple of years now. About the need to give one thing priority over the others in my list of things I want to do. Not stopping any of them, just making one the thing that gets the most time. But I haven’t been able to get myself to do it, because the thing I want to put at the top of the list isn’t writing, and somehow that makes me feel guilty.

But I’m ready to say it now. I don’t want to stop writing, but I want to put my writing on a lower rung than my teaching and coaching work. Why am I ready to say this now? I’m reading Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done by Jon Acuff. In Chapter 3, “Choose What to Bomb,” he says, “The only way to accomplish a new goal is to feed it your most valuable resource: time.” This followed on the heels of talk about how you really can’t do it all and all sorts of other good advice and good ideas. And I knew that I’ve been fooling myself by pretending that I can get a blog and website up and thriving while keeping my fiction writing my top priority.

So my goals are changing. Not really that much, all the same things are still on there for the most part, but they are changing. This is where I’m leaning right now:

  • MuseCraft: write blog posts or copy at least twice a week; share things on social media at least twice a week.
  • Writing: continue writing practice several times a week; work on flash fiction when time and interest converge; I want to see how it feels to just write for fun and brain clearing and not think about writing stories, finishing things, any of that.
  • Making things: fit in time regularly, at least twice a week, to work on creative projects just for me.

I have other areas I’d like to work on. I’m not sure how they will fit in with my job plus trying to build up the blog and website and coaching business. But I’d like to have a clean and welcoming home. I’d like to go out and do things more; I let my pain and ongoing exhaustion and general ennui keep me at home and alone more than is good for me I think. I want to make clothes for myself.

I need to work on professional development hours for keeping my teaching license up to date, and I need to find a full time position. I want to do more photography. I need to have food more organized and easier so we have decent meals even when I’m tired.

Most of all, I need to find ways to make this all feel more organic. I’ve been feeling like my life is just checking things off my list. I get a lot of things done, but too often it doesn’t feel like it goes together. It’s just separate little check boxes, and I don’t like the way that feels. So a more amorphous goal is figuring out how to get things done without feeling like all I’m doing is moving from task to task. But for now, I am going to focus on getting things done while enjoying things more. As Jon Acuff says in Chapter 4, “Make It Fun If You Want It Done,” “Make sure there’s laughing and smiling involved with that thing you’re going to do.”

Goals and Wants

Last week on Sunday I set goals for the week. Somehow, I forgot (or disregarded) the fact that I had a big event this weekend where I was running a meeting, arranging and manning a display table, presenting projects and documentation of my own, and helping evaluate projects and documentation for two other people. I actually did not have time for the goals I wrote up last week.

They were really nice goals, though, so I’m using them again this week. I should have time to actually work on them even! I think it will go better this week. So, this week’s goals:

  • Clean out my working pouches of embroidery floss and detangle it all
  • Do some writing about writing practice to figure out why it’s feeling dull
  • Write a blog post for my MuseCraft website
  • Create a page for a MuseCraft offering I want to put out in the world, find an image for it, and do a list of things I want to include in the copy
  • Continue the declutter project

One thing I did do this week was continue my 30 day 5-minute declutter project. That is actually going really well, and I have some clear spaces and a fe things organized now that weren’t at all that way on January 1. I’m really happy with this 5-minute decluttering because I know I don’t have to do a lot so I don’t feel overwhelmed, yet it’s getting things done. I don’t think I’ll continue an every day version after the 30 days, but I’m definitely adding this into my weekly schedule.

Now about those wants mentioned in the subject. I have so many things I want to try or do or make! I am constantly enticed by new and fabulous things (mostly crafts, really). I want to do so many things, and I gather too many supplies and tutorials, and I don’t do much of any of it most of the time because there’s just too much. So I’m having a notion, not solidified or ready to be a plan yet, that I need to decide on my primary crafts and get all of the supplies and tutorial and books and whatnot gathered in one spot for each of them. Everything else needs to either get given away or stored away for the possible, occasional use in the future. I don’t know how this will look, but it’s a direction I want to move in, so at some point some of these tasks will go on my goals list.

That’s about it for this week. I hope everyone’s having a lovely Sunday. Have a great week ahead!

What’s the Plan?

It’s already time to start the first ROW80 round of 2019! And I don’t have goals set. I’ve been sick for three weeks, so that’s really sidetracked me. Last week I was so sick I didn’t even get to go to the family Christmas. I’m back to the base level congestion and headache that started it all, but the cough from last week is lingering, too. Bleah.

That’s not actually what I was planning to talk about, though. I wanted to talk about all the things I want to do. The list is huge. So I’m going to start with a general list and say that I want to work on all of these areas:

  • Writing practice
  • Writing fiction
  • Blogging (for MuseCraft and here)
  • Putting up coaching offerings on MuseCraft
  • Art journaling
  • Embroidery
  • Sewing
  • Decluttering

Getting more specific, I am going to try out setting some quarterly, monthly, and weekly goals. The new planner I got for the year is set up to help with that kind of planning, and I think it will be useful for me. I’m also going to set weekly goals for myself in my Sunday check-ins.

This week’s goals:

  • Find all the stray embroidery floss that’s roaming around the house
  • Set up a project pouch for the next embroidery project I want to work on
  • Do writing practice at least twice between now and Sunday
  • Spend 5 minutes a day decluttering studio things (this is to go with my first 30 day challenge of the year, decluttering every day; I’m keeping it small and simple)

My overall goals are a little bit amorphous right now, but I feel like since I at least have categories that will let me set weekly goals. I’m going to take the next few days before school starts again to get clearer on these goals and work on those quarterly and monthly goals to help me keep with the weekly goal setting plan. Hopefully Sunday’s check-in will be all about how I got that all set up–that’s the plan, anyhow.

Pre-planning

Is there actually such a thing as pre-planning? I mean, isn’t it just planning? You’re planning what you’re going to work on, right? Pre-plan is actually in the dictionary and means to plan in advance. Isn’t all planning done in advance?

I didn’t mean to start off on a tangent, but as I was thinking of titles, the whole pre-planning weirdness really caught me. Still, I guess I’m pre-planning right now because I’m working on figuring out what I want to work on in 2019.

I have a list of nine (NINE?!) novels in some stage of progress. Some of them I had completely forgotten about, but when I went to the NaNoWriMo site to see what I’ve worked on over the years, there they were, titles just hanging around waiting for me to remember their stories. 

So, nine novels to choose from (if I can find all of the relevant notes and drafts for all of them–there’ve been some computer changes over the years). And four short stories that I’d like to get finished. 

My plan is to pick one of the novels to work on for the year. I don’t know if that means I won’t do NaNo in November. I think that will depend on how work on the chosen novel goes. I don’t know exactly how I will go about diving back into an old, partially completed novel. That will probably depend on which one I choose. But for right now I have the list of titles for both stories and novels all in one place, so it feels like the start of getting organized. 

Next step (after Christmas) will be to find the files and documents and notes for the various novels and see what exactly I have to work with. Then I think I’ll be able to set some good Round 1 ROW80 goals. 

Round 4!

I can’t believe we’re already in the last round. This year swooshed by me! But here we are, time for the final round of ROW80 for 2018. At least goal setting for this round is always easy. It’s NaNoWriMo season! The goals practically set themselves.

The only hard part about goals for this round is what to do about December. I have so far never done a good job of keeping things rolling after NaNo, and this year I’d really like to change that.

I am mulling over how to make December not feel like a flop this time around. I’m thinking that separating my goals out by month might be useful, so I’m going to try that out.

So, here they are! My Round 4 Goals:

October:

  • Work on NaNo planning at least 4 times each week
  • Continue writing practice at least 3 times a week
  • Blog at least 3 times

November:

  • Work on my NaNo story at least 4 days a week
  • Run a weekly online write-in
  • Go to or host at least two in-person write-ins
  • Blog at least 2 times

December: 

  • On December 1, write a blog post with more precise December goals
  • Include some sort of work related to my NaNo story
  • Blog at least 3 times

Pretty Close

I came close to my goal of having a name for my character. I’m not quite there yet. I have it narrowed down to two, and I’m hoping that as I do a little work getting to know her I’ll figure out what her name is supposed to be.

This part, figuring out whose story I’m telling, always gets the excitement building in me. I can feel that buzz in my stomach, and I’m starting to see images of scenes. I can’t wait to start the planning on this one!

I still have some work to do on my NaNo planning class, but I am far enough along that I can say it will be ready to start on the 24th. And I will have a registration page tomorrow. So that goal is pretty close to met, too.

I didn’t have as much time as I expected for working on all of this because I got a three-week sub job! I was not expecting that so early in the school year, but I’m really happy it came along. I may have to readjust my schedule a bit, but it’s so worth it. I am so glad to be back in the classroom!

For now, though, I’m going to go out and enjoy this sunny and warm-but-not-hot beautiful late summer day. Happy writing everyone!

Stirrings of Fall

I love fall. I think I’ve mentioned this a million or so times before. But this time of year hits, and I come alive. I have ideas, I’m ready to do things. And one of the things I do in the fall is NaNoWriMo. This year, I’m taking part in their fun Instagram challenge in September. Today’s prompt was “cover art,” so I made this for my horror story.

I’m also gearing up to teach my “Plan Your NaNo” class after a couple of years off, so most of my writing is centered around updating and touching up the materials for that. But I also made a cute graphic for it (apparently this week is for making graphics). I’ll share that below, because I’m kind of proud of it.

So not a lot of writing is happening, but there’s a lot of writing-adjacent activity. But after a really droopy summer, I’m feeling like things are moving again, and that feels very good.

I got a new idea for NaNo just over a week ago, so I need to get moving on fleshing it out. I’m going to set a goal of having a character name and some background on her by Sunday. See you then with an update!

Checking In

I don’t really have anything to report, but I haven’t written a post in so long. I figured now’s a good time. Job hunting and the inherent stresses of that and of being unemployed are weighing on me. I do some writing practice, I do some MuseCraft™ work, I do things around the house.

Sometimes writing doesn’t get to be the priority. Sometimes there’s just not enough brain power and mental space for it. I feel like this is an important message, so I’m just reminding myself and maybe you, too. The writing is always there. It will be there when you can make space for it again. We’ll do just fine. Don’t worry.