Project Management For Writers Pt. 9: The Priority Trap

CalendarLast month I sent my book, The Bow of Destiny, to my editor for a structural edit. I expected the book to be out of my hands for about thirty days. This meant it was a perfect time to work on the next book in the series, An Arrow Against the Wind, as well as some of my short fiction projects.

I set a schedule to complete the rough draft of the second book and got started. I also began a hefty overhaul of a short story that was a very rough draft. I worked into a balance with these projects after weighting their priority according to my available time.

By the time I was in a steady rhythm with these projects I had accomplished a great deal. I had written several chapters in the second book and revised the short story into a cohesive draft. I expected to finish the rough draft of An Arrow Against the Wind by the time The Bow of Destiny came back from the editor.

WritingBut to my surprise, the editor returned the manuscript several weeks ahead of schedule. There was good news as she far fewer structural issues than previously so the book is rounding into shape. I just needed to address these structural issues and be ready for the next round of detailed editing.

But now I was faced with problem. Should I finish the rough draft on which I was working or pivot to edit the manuscript in progress. I had allotted time to complete An Arrow Against the Wind but I also needed to have The Bow of Destiny ready for the editorial schedule. What should I do?

This question stopped me cold for a few days while I weighed the options. I thoroughly enjoyed writing like I was on book 2. However, the first manuscript needs to be completed.

Dueling priorities had me trapped. The quandary had to be examined. I took a serious look at An Arrow Against the Wind. I knew there would need to be some structural changes to the manuscript. I decided to go ahead and do these to find out how much writing was still needed to complete the rough draft. In the end, I found that I needed much more than I originally thought. I could still write higher word totals each day and finish the draft by the deadline.

Puzzle Pieces.jpgNext, I considered all that needed to be addressed on the first manuscript. I started a fluid schedule to determine when I could finish the changes and be ready for the editorial schedule. I found that I would be well ahead of the schedule.

In the end, I’ve chosen to complete the edits for The Bow of Destiny. It needs to be completed first and be ready for the editor’s schedule. This weighed much more to me than the second manuscript. The advantage to completing the editing was that I would have the manuscript waiting for the editor and I could already have pivoted back to completing the rough draft of the next book, even have that completed.

The take-away here is that you can make a solid schedule but circumstances change. A project schedule should be fluid enough to allow for shifts in priority. Learning to be flexible with your schedule is necessary to managing projects – and for me these books are parts of a larger project. How you prioritize your projects is up to you but flexibility may be necessary.

Book Cover Green Top & Bottom Cover - CopyWhat unexpected events have you encountered that required changes to your schedule? How have you adapted to circumstances to move in a different direction while still accomplishing your over-arching goals? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section. I’d also love to connect with you over social media so check my Contact page for that information. See the News page for announcements and remember to sign-up to receive news and posts by email. I’ve added a new sign-up tab on my FaceBook page to simplify the process. New followers can download The Black Bag via free coupon today! Also, the cover of my book, The Bow of Destiny, was revealed recently so take a look.

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Project Management for Writers Pt. 8: Schedule & Productivity

TypingIt’s been a while since I wrote about project management. I recently had some thoughts about the subject and wanted to share some tips for better project management and productivity.

1. If you often find that you’re unable to focus this could mean that you’ve got a lot on your plate and just can’t get it organized in your mind well enough to be productive. You know how you open tabs on your web browser and then open more? Sometimes you may even have some open for a long time. Your browsing and your computer might slow down as a result. The same thing happens with your mind – too many mental tabs are open – work to get them closed by organizing your day.

2.Daily goals and schedule – use a schedule to know how and when something will be dealt with – otherwise you can flounder under the uncertainty. What needs to be done gets mentally assigned time, place, function, etc so that you can eliminate uncertainty. Now you may notice your mind some spinning and getting nowhere – you’ve just planned how to go about your work.

3. Follow the schedule as much as possible. There will be need for changes so be willing to be flexible. But follow the schedule as best you can and start closing those mental tabs. Clear these and productivity improves. You’ll find that you’re getting more accomplished by addressing all the items on your mental list. The importance part is that you get them out of your mind and scheduled so you can work on them.

4. How this works on a long-term schedule – this type of schedule doesn’t change as much nor does it require quite as much management. I might set goals/deadlines for some writing projects but this can – and does – get adjusted due to intervening events. However, my managing your daily schedule and goals well you may find that your bigger plans are more on target and you start closing those bigger tabs with greater regularity.

Want to be more productive but find yourself distracted with a reasonable schedule? Try working in a space that’s tidy. Avoid the internet while working – there are several tools you can use to help discipline your activity. Don’t research during your writing time – do it beforehand. Make sure you get enough sleep – being too tired means it’s harder to focus and writing takes lots of mental acuity.

Available at Amazon, Smashwords and All Major E-Book Vendors!

Available at Amazon, Smashwords and All Major E-Book Vendors!

How do you address issues of productivity? What do you find important with scheduling your day? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section. I’d also love to connect with you over social media so check my Contact page for that information. See the News page for announcements and remember to sign-up to receive news and posts by email. I’ve added a new sign-up tab on my FaceBook page to simplify the process. New followers can download The Black Bag via free coupon today! Also, the cover of my book, The Bow of Destiny, was revealed recently so take a look.

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RRBC SPOTLIGHT Blog Tour – Jump, Jive and Wail

Today, I welcome Kathryn Biel to Archer’s Aim as part of her SPOTLIGHT Blog Tour with Rave Reviews Book Club of which she and I are members. Take it away, Kathryn!

The prospect of being an Indie author can seem daunting. And it is. But not really. When I first published Good Intentions, I had that moment of feeling like I was standing naked in front of a crowd. That was me—my words—out there. I thought writing a book was the hard part of indie publishing. I had no idea. My book was not properly edited. I thought it was, until I started finding typo after typo. My cover was, for lack of a better term, horrendous. With the help of time, research, a good editor (thanks Karen!), and some very supportive people on social media, I’ve learned tremendous amounts over these past two years. I would be nowhere without the support of other writers and bloggers that I’ve met along the way. I had to learn to ask questions, no matter how silly. I had to learn that I had to spend money on this process. The first priority is on editing, and the second is on cover design.

I love being an indie author. Unless some huge deal (with lots and lots of zeros) comes along, I can’t see that changing. Even though it’s a lot of work, I’ve surrounded myself with a good team (of my choosing). I love that I have control over my titles, pricing, covers, and promotional materials. I love that I can reach my readers without waiting on the whims of people who may or may not like my book depending on the day they look at it. And I love that I have the freedom to keep writing.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00070]I’d like to share an excerpt from my new novel, Jump, Jive, and Wail.

I’ve been told I have an anger problem. Yeah, so what. You would too if you were living my life. Once destined for greatness—for gold—now my life is crap. Complete and utter crap. So, yeah, I’m angry. Angry all the flippin’ time. I also have a swearing problem. I’m working on that.

The focus of my anger at this moment is two-fold: the TSA and my brace. My stupid brace. Always that. If it weren’t for the brace, I’d only be mildly annoyed at the TSA right now. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’d still be annoyed. What kind of idiot puts a bomb in his underwear or shoe? Why’d he have to go and spoil it for the rest of us? That kind of imbecile deserves to have his frank and beans blown off. Okay, so my anger here is actually three-fold and includes the eejits who attach bombs to their privates to blow up planes.

Struggling to manage my overstuffed carry-on while holding my bulky winter coat, boots, and the brace, I finally manage to get through the security gates. Careful not to let my right toes drag on the ground, I step aside, drop my load, and set about donning it—that damn brace. Kirby. That’s its name. Or at least what I call it. Because having to wear a brace sucks more than an expensive vacuum cleaner. Shoving the bags off to the side and not wanting to sit down on the airport floor, I bend forward at the waist and precariously balance on my left leg while I lift my right one into the air. I’m out of the habit of squatting these days, since the plastic of my constant companion doesn’t let my ankle bend that way. Sliding Kirby beneath my dropped foot, I quickly get my limp, numb, useless right leg safely encased in its flesh-colored plastic tomb. It reminds me of a coffin because my foot just lays there for all to see—dead. One nylon Velcro strap across the ankle, another around the calf and I’m good to slide my useless appendage into my Ugg. Yes, I know; it is like the worst possible choice in shoes, other than flip-flops, which I’ll never be able to wear again. But I rationalize, like I do with so many other things, that my bad foot is fully supported in the brace, so the supportiveness of the shoe itself doesn’t matter. (I do completely ignore the fact that I have another leg and foot that is working, for the most part.) My physical therapist doesn’t buy my rationale but whatever. Let her walk—or limp—a mile in my shoes and see how she likes it.

I am getting lightheaded from being bent over, and I’m sure my ass in the air isn’t the most flattering view, but a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. I’m sure the underwear bomber felt the same way, but I mean, who would ever think that that was a good idea?

The real reason I like the Uggs is that they hide the ugliness that is Kirby. I look pretty normal wearing them. They’re totally flat, which I need anyway, and they’re in fashion. Don’t know what I’ll do when they become passé but, like so many other things in my life right now, I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

So here I am, keister in the air, just getting ready to lift my left foot up. Balancing on my right leg is always a bit dodgy so I have to mentally psych myself up for it. The brace gives me some stability, but it is still not a skill in which I excel. The last thing I want to do is fall down in the middle of a busy airport. I open up the mouth of the boot and as quickly as I can, slide my left foot in. When I put my foot down, my weight shifts back slightly and my rear end bumps into something.

Not something, someone.

A man, to be precise. A man’s crotch to be even more precise.

IMG_1439 (2)Author Bio: Telling stories of resilient women, Kathryn Biel hails from upstate New York and is a spouse and mother of two wonderful and energetic kids. In between being Chief Home Officer and Director of Child Development of the Biel household, she works as a school-based physical therapist. She attended Boston University and received her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from The Sage Colleges. After years of writing countless letters of medical necessity for wheelchairs, finding increasingly creative ways to encourage the government and insurance companies to fund her clients’ needs, and writing entertaining annual Christmas letters, she decided to take a shot at writing the kind of novel that she likes to read. Her musings and rants can be found on her personal blog, Biel Blather. She is the author of Good Intentions (2013), Hold Her Down (2014), I’m Still Here (2014), Jump, Jive, and Wail (2015), and the short story, Fly Robin Fly (Part of Cupid on the Loose!: A Valentine’s Anthology of Short Stories, 2015).

JUMP, JIVE, AND WAIL Links: Amazon B&N Kobo iTunes

Kathryn’s Social Media Links: Twitter Facebook Website Pinterest

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