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Thursday, August 23, 2012

A TASK BASED PLAN by Lynn Crain

            Such a formidable title for such an essential tool. Most of you know this as a ‘To Do’ list and it’s imperative every writer have one.

            There are many different types of these lists. I have them for my works-in-progress, for my daily writing goals and a general one that I use for the bigger writing picture. Every writer has their own ideas and priorities that are important to them. I will be going over the top ten items that I believe I want to accomplish daily and how they can relate to you.

            Here are my top ten:
            Write ~ While this may be obvious to everyone, I know that I need to put this down as my number one priority. I tend to be a visual person and by putting this down on paper, I have made it the most important item. I see it daily in the number one spot and realize this is the task to be worked on most...it’s in black and white...there is no confusion or uncertainty as to its priority in the overall scheme of things. Notice I have this open as far as what I write but the aim here is to write my stories first as the other items on the list involve various forms of writing as well.
            Read ~ For me to recharge my writing battery, I need to read every day. This reading also can be a combination of items but mainly fiction as I am like most writers, I devour books and often read one a day.
            Tweet ~ Yes, this is one of my top ten as this is how I interface with others of my profession as well as readers. I can be extremely chatty in 140 characters and give people news both about my writing and some more personal items.
            Facebook ~ Six months ago, I would have never had this on my list but have come to realize there are a lot of people on this form of social media. With me being in Vienna, Austria, it has become one of the main ways for me to talk to family and friends in the States. I’ve also discovered that readers Facebook too. Many feel that an author can apply a more personal touch here than anywhere else. While it may take me a while to understand all the ins and outs, I love using this powerful social media tool.
            Blog ~ This is another area where my writing skills are used daily. I blog for myself and guest all over the internet for others. This is beneficial as it spreads my reach a little further as every blog appeals to different types of people. While you want to do this often, there is a point where one may over saturate a market. True, it is essential to get out there when you have a new release, but you don’t want to be known as the in-your-face writer as people tend to ignore and avoid you when you are. A few YouTube videos have been going around the internet talking about those types of authors and how it can hurt one’s overall plan. You want readers jumping for joy, not groaning in displeasure when they see your name.
            Take Classes ~ A writer, actually any person, will never know it all. Learning is a lifelong skill and my opinion has always been that the day I stop learning is the day I die. For me, I will look at my current WIP to see if a particular class can help me make it stronger. I also use courses as a form of motivation to keep me moving forward as well as enhancing research skills.
            Revise/Edit ~ At least part of my day needs to be spent going over what I’ve written to assure the article or story is the best it can be before I send it off to the appropriate party. During this time, I will also look at anything an editor has sent back to me. The time I spend on this daily can be a few minutes to a few hours and totally depends upon the items in this task list. I have been known to set aside all items and spend a day exclusively editing.
            Research ~  This is an area I am very fond of doing. Many of my stories are science fiction and I love looking up the latest discoveries on the internet to see how I can use and twist them to my advantage. Here I also look at the market, making sure what I’m doing hasn’t been done before and if it has, how I can do it new, fresh and different. My time spent on this task will be as interesting as possible, inspiring me to do better.
            Exercise ~ Now this may seem out of place in a writer’s list but for me it is not. One issue that writers, and women in general, tend to forget about is taking care of themselves. The point is if you don’t take care of you, there are no stories. I find that when I take the time to exercise, I plot and think about how I’m going to work a story as I walking or jogging or doing an exercise video. Sometimes, the more I exercise the better a story may become. I’ve been known to work out plot holes, why the characters have stopped talking to me as well as a host of other items or problems related to writing in general.
            Getting Enough Sleep ~ This goes hand-in-hand with exercise but is actually more valuable as far as personal care goes. Sure, I’ll write some evenings until I drop but if I don’t get my eight hours of shuteye, I find myself vague and unfocused the next day. Writers need to be on top of their game every day to create compelling content. While I may not keep 100% of what I have written on any given day, if I haven’t gotten enough sleep the content I’ve written more than likely will be trashed as  unsuitable.
            As a writer, each of us must find our balance and focus. Task lists can channel that focus because you have a map of what needs to be done daily. If you are a visual person, one who needs to see things in black and white, then making a task list would work well for you. Just take a quiet morning, or if like me a moment amidst the chaos, and start working on a list.
            At first, it may be trial and error until you find the right balance. The idea isn’t to box yourself in where you must do all these tasks daily, but striving for doing most of them may be all you can accomplish in the beginning. There are days where the writing will take over and you may never get to the revision part. If you exercise daily in the morning first thing, that may be the only other task that you do besides the item in your number one position.
            The idea is to make the list inclusive enough without ever boxing you in because let’s face it...life happens...things go awry. One needs the flexibility a list like this can provide but having a road map will keep you going and moving forward.
            So there you have them – the top ten items on my general daily task list. I do try to touch on each and every item during the day. Some days are harder than others, some days I don’t have a project to revise or an item on the list isn’t doable. Just having the list on my desk reminds me of what I need to complete, to manage and helps me to stay on track.
            If you think you are unfocused and aren’t performing your best, a task list would help to harness your passion into focus. Being on course can help you achieve your writing dreams, making you happier than you ever imagined. I wish you the best of luck in pursuing that dream and hope I’ve helped you in some small way.
Lynn

BIO:
Lynn Crain has penned over 25 novels in  romance in the genres of science fiction, fantasy and contemporary romance, erotic to tame in nature. She always knew that writing was her calling even if it took years at other professions to prove it. She has belonged to EPIC and RWA for more years that she cares to think about. Currently, she lives in Europe while her husband of nearly 30 years pursues his dream of working internationally. Her state-side home is in Nevada where family and friends wait patiently for their return. You can find her hanging out at A Writer In Vienna Blog (www.awriterinvienna.blogspot.com) and various other places on the net (www.theloglineblog.blogspot.com; www.twitter.com/oddlynn3 ; www.lynncrain.blogspot.com ;  www.facebook.com/oddlynn3 ) as well as her website www.lynncrain.com. Still, the thing she loves most of all is hearing from her readers at lynncrain@cox.net.
Check out Lynn’s latest book, The Harvester:
Princess Sky Xera Nerezsh came to earth to avoid the normal succession path to the throne. Being the oldest daughter, she will be required to murder her mother in order to secure her path to power. Sky loves her mother and refuses this path, choosing instead to disappear in the vast reaches of space. When her past collides with her present, she has to think quick on her feet, claim two men and a whole planet just to avoid the inevitable: a meeting with her mother. Along the way, she discovers true love and a burning need to be there for them always. Now if the other Harvesters can just keep to themselves, they’ll have no problems. But who said true love was ever easy.
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8 comments:

Diane Burton said...

Awesome list, Lynn. I just wish there were enough hours in the day to accomplish everything. I totally agree about exercise and taking care of oneself. Too often we put everything & everybody ahead of us. We need to be "selfish" about our time. Thanks for a great To Do List.

sarah-madison said...

This was an excellent post! I've been mulling over some of these same concepts lately, and it is nice to see them backed up in writing.

I'm also severely overdrawn in the 'doing everything for everyone' department, and the stress of knowing everything I'm committed to doing is gnawing its way through my stomach to my backbone as I type these words. The things I want to do are superseded by the things I need to do.

But no excuses here. I am going to have to change some things, and learning how to tell people 'no' is part of that. Thanks for the timely reminder!

Lynn Crain said...

Thanks, Diane...and I understand exactly what you mean...I have lots to do. It's one of the biggest reasons that I finally went back to these lists as I needed things in black and white.

Now, I concentrate on my daily list and can only add something when one of the original ten is marked off as done.

I agree that we need to be selfish about our time. By doing a little planning, we can certainly make it more productive and take care of everything.

Thanks for stopping by!

Lynn

Lynn Crain said...

Sarah,

One of the hardest things I ever had to do was learn to say no. I like doing things for people but there were times when nothing I needed to get done that ever got completed.

Lists help me focus on what I need to do for myself and what I can do for others. I also use an extensive calendar as well and it puts it all in perspective.

We all have the same amount of time. How we choose to use it, plan it and succeed are the only differences between those who are successful and those who are still trying.

Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate it!

Lynn

K.R. Morrison said...

This was a terrific blog. I'm glad you put in exercise and getting enough sleep. I have been a walking fanatic for several years, and it's while doing this type of exercise that most of my story ideas come up. But getting the time to write--that is the problem. Twitter--that is a venue I haven't tried yet. Eventually, but right now I am just starting to get some recognition in other places. I am on Facebook a lot, and it's starting to work for me. Good to see a practical list like this.

Lynn Crain said...

K.R.,

Thanks for stopping by, I appreciate it!

Another walker! Yeah! Since we don't have a car here in Vienna, Austria, I walk everywhere. Then I got a dog and now I walk even more! LOL! But it's true that I get a lot of my ideas and thoughts for writing projects when I'm walking.

I have to keep these lists otherwise I wouldn't know which way was up! LOL! I've found over the years, it helps me to keep focused and on track.

Happy to note that someone else sees it as a practical list as well.

Hope to see you around!

Lynn

Nancy Lee Badger also writes as Nancy Lennea said...

After spending the entire morning promoting my books and checking email I really want to write. Guess I need to make that #1 on my List!

Lynn Crain said...

Nancy,

The hard thing about being a writer is that one has life items and writing items they must do. Writing needs to be at the top of the writing list every time. Everything else needs to come in after that.

I know it's a hard thing to do...I too have just done all my promotion for the day...with myself and the blogs I sponsor. Thank goodness, one of the promotion items did involve writing. Not the type I should have been doing...but writing none the less. Still, I should have started my day writing then did the other items. But today was Sunday and I did one even better...I slept in...LOL!

Thanks for stopping by Nancy...I appreciate it!

Lynn