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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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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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Project Management Pt. 11: Making Up Time

This is an ongoing series to help authors manage their projects better. Previous posts have covered a wide range of subjects over several months. Please see below for a list of those related posts.

TimeTime is a precious commodity and it seems we wrestle with managing it daily. Just when we seem to get things into order and have a daily rhythm any number of events can interrupt what we’re doing. As I write this, I’m suffering from the flu and have taken my daughter to the doctor for the same illness. It’s really interrupted my calendar since I’ve felt so listless. I’ve tried to work through it anyway but haven’t been able to keep up with everything. I had the same trouble last month when I was sick with a cold that disrupted my energy for my daily schedule.

It can be hard to have your schedule disrupted and then try to get back to where you were. If you had a delay of several days it can be frustrating or even difficult to re-orient yourself to what you were doing previously. Here are few tips to getting back in the swing.

CalendarIf your deadlines and goals were set in a calendar, take a few minutes to update that to the day where you are and adjust your deadlines if possible (these should be somewhat fluid since the nature of things is to encounter delays). Be realistic about your deadlines and don’t try to make them all up at once if they have a definite date. However, if you are making some time up on a few of those deadlines then prioritize – decide what can be delayed and for how long.

Once you have an idea of how you need to proceed then make a schedule for the day. Don’t over-schedule thinking you’ll get it all done at once. Consult your calendar and how you’ve adjusted your goals and then schedule your time accordingly. Follow the schedule as best you can and at the end, if you have some spare time then add something else to make up but not something out of priority. Stick to your priorities and be diligent with your schedule and you’ll find you’re working like you were before you delay.

Also, during your delaying event, if you can find time to work do what you can. For instance, I haven’t felt too energetic for several days and that’s inhibited my daily progress. But while I’ve been in the doctor’s office I’ve been working on several posts and social media via a guest wifi. It’s better than sitting around wondering when they’re going to call us back and I’ve been able to catch up some in the middle of the distraction.

One last thought – when you set your calendar and daily schedule try to be flexible enough to handle any sort of problems that can delay you. You can’t plan for – or foresee everything that will happen – but some built-in accommodation may make your disruptions less stressful in the end.

Related Posts:

Office Clocks Showing Different TimesProject Management Pt. 1: Learn To Juggle

Project Management Pt. 2: Analyzing Time

Project Management Pt. 3: Balancing Projects & Tasks

Project Management Pt. 4: The Jigsaw Puzzle

Project Management Pt. 5: Putting the Pieces Together

Project Management Pt. 6: My Own Medicine

Project Management Pt. 7: My Schedule Mole

Project Management Pt. 8: Schedule & Productivity

Project Management Pt. 9: The Priority Trap

Project Management Pt. 10: Eat, Sleep, Write

The Black Bag by P H SolomonWhat disruptions do you frequently encounter as a writer? 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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