Month: December 2013

Social Media and Me

radio-antennaAs may have been gathered from the image illustrating my post about where my time goes, I spend a certain amount of time using social media. These are the sites I use and what I use them for:

  • Twitter: water-cooler conversation, stalk… er, paying attention to industry personalities, and occasionally making terrible puns. Follow me on @DunxIsWriting.
  • Google+: staying in touch with writing groups and personal contacts.
  • Facebook: personal contacts, and writing groups.
  • LinkedIn: mostly for software networking, although I can see using this for freelance networking at some point.
  • Feedly: I only use this as an RSS reader; I really don’t touch the social element at all

Of these, I probably spend most time on Facebook, and Twitter*. I like Google+ in theory, but in practice it is too time-consuming for me to use a lot so I don’t. Honestly, I think Google missed a trick by not rolling RSS feed streams into Google+ instead of killing Reader outright – that would have had me using the Plus constantly.

The thing I haven’t done yet and am still thinking about is setting up author pages on Facebook and Google+ – book pages too, once I have a book to call complete. That will come in time.

How do you employ social media?

[*] I also spend time using the business social system my employer has in the office, but that’s not a public profile.

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Allocating Time

clock-face-segmentsI’ve talked before about planning what to do next, but something I occasionally find useful is setting aside particular times for particular tasks.

This is a technique that works especially well when there are a lot of things to be done in a fixed amount of time and the tasks are independent of each other. For example, in my last week before NaNoWriMo, all of these things needed to be done before the end of October:

  • blog posts: I had two NaNo-related series I needed to finalise that week, a goals update, a NaNo bell ringer to start the month, and another idea to round it out to a full week.
  • gaming – I had agreed to run a game on the evening of the 1st November. In retrospect this was a crazy thing to do, but I did want to round off the story so we would be able to take a break for a few weeks. So I had a bit of prep to do there.
  • NaNovel – outline needed to be finished before the bell rang.

(and this is all separate from what I was doing at work – it was a busy week there, too – and with my family)

What I did was to nominate particular groups of tasks to particular times of day for the week:

  1. do outline and gaming work on the bus
    1. outline on the way in
    2. gaming on the way home until that’s done, then outline
  2. work on blog posts in the morning and evening
  3. do some blog planning and image creation during lunch

This simple plan really got me through the stack of work

Where this approach does not work is if you have a lot of tasks which are dependent on each other (i.e. they have to be completed in order) or where you have just one task to work on (e.g. write the manuscript for NaNoWriMo).

I also find that this is a technique which works for me over short time periods. I’ve successfully done hour-by-hour day plans before now, but those are only usually effective for a few days. Similarly, this time-slot approach works to keep me focussed on the work for a week or two but tends to get stale after that.

Where I can see this being an effective long-term strategy is if you allocate particular times of day to specific types of work, if you have enough self-knowledge to know when your brain works best on certain things and if you have enough control over your schedule to choose when to work on what you want, but neither of those conditions holds in my case.

Do you have techniques to help with chewing through a big pile of work in a limited time?

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My 2013 NaNoWriMo Maze Tracker

You may recall that I like to use a maze tracker to publish how I am doing on my word count.

Here’s how my 2013 one looked after it was filled in.

2013-nanowrimo-trackerThis is the one I had at work where I had highlighter pens to hand (and you can see how some of the colours have faded since earlier in the month – but not that blue!). I also had one on the fridge at home, but that’s just done in red, blue and black text.

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Dispatch From the End of Madness

2013-nanowrimo-statsNational Novel Writing Month 2013 is done, and so is the zeroth draft of my novel Shapes of Chance.

The final word count was 100,088 according to Scrivener, 100,666 according to the NaNoWriMo validator. That’s an average of 3,355 words a day, and a new personal record for the number of words written in a month (up by about 25%, in fact).

As I said on day 13, the story has gone in some interesting directions. I have a much better sense of how things fit together to make things more engaging. The tough part, looking back at the story I started with, is that a lot of the early parts will get trimmed because they are not really the meat of the story: they are important, because they are part of the MC’s discovery of her self, but they currently relate only tangentially to the larger story.

The worst thing about this draft is that the later parts of the narrative are abbreviated. I realised a few days ago that I had something like twenty scenes left to write, and only about 16,000 words to relate them in. I couldn’t commit to continuing into December, so I ended up trimming out a lot of the character conflict in favour of a bare delineation of the plot. That’ll have to get put back in on the edit, but it’s an edit I am looking forward to.

Right at the moment I am thinking that this story will be replacing Bluehammer on the writing goals for the next year or so. It’s much clearer where the story needs to go than with the Kissilturi stuff, and since my continuing goal is to have something actually finished then I think it is time to let the older story go.

Still, a good month’s writing.

On to the next thing, while Shapes rests in a drawer for a few weeks.

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