So Long For A While…

My family situation necessitates I step back from some of my writing for a while. Unfortunately, the first victim is this blog. This will be an indefinite hiatus where I will focus most of my energy on my fictional Onyalum Series.

However, I am not deleting this blog in the hopes that future editions of my book will once again require me to assist others in pursuing their publishing dreams, assuming my family situation changes for the better.

For anyone who has experienced cancer or knows someone who has, then you’ll understand why I must step back. I love this blog because it provides me an outlet for another side of my writing voice, one that is more whimsical and fun. It also fits well with my day job, teaching. I love helping others unlock the potential inside themselves whether it is in mathematics or writing.

My final words of wisdom are a warning that the publishing industry is going through major changes as the eBook market begins to erode the traditional book market. Fear not for this will be an opportunity for you, the writer. Pay attention to the trends, keep on writing, and always keep your Appointment To Write! In fact, I am writing this during my appointment.

To show my appreciation for my fans, I will be dropping the price of my eBook to $2.99 through Amazon.com Kindle. Future editions are on my Task List, but the dates have been drastically moved into the future. Still, everything I have offered up till now still applies to all who want to pursue their dream of writing. Never give up your dreams, life is far too short.

Wish me well and please visit my Science Fiction blog, Onyalum Wars, to enjoy the short stories I post as a lead up to book six in my series. I sincerely hope to revisit this blog in the future, but that future is still unknown.

Goodbye for now, but hopefully not forever!

NB VanYoos

Plan for a Great Day

Clickety-click clickety-click clickety-click…

“Honey?”

Can’t a man just work?

“Yes, dear?”

“The puppy needs to go out!”

Just when we are almost done with diapers. Sigh…

Klever Kahlua

Klever Kahlua

With the passing of our last dog, we now find ourselves with a new puppy and a new set of problems. Welsh Corgis are wonderful dogs, but they are almost too clever for their own good. They work things out quickly and never forget. Grrrrrr…

Well, if you are not as sharp as a Corgi, fear not, the modern world will assist you with wonderful tools. You won’t have to remember everything and you won’t get bogged down by the minutia that will plague your writing career. Heck, we have tools that will do that for us!

Last time, I discussed all the possible tools I have used for managing time and tasks. This month, we will work through the nuts-and-bolts of each of these potential tools. I believe I left off last month by charging you with the task of analyzing each tool and seeing which might fit your needs best. If you have done that, you may need a little patience while I go through each one.

I wish to start with the simplest and work my way up to the more complex and powerful. Obviously, my preference of a spreadsheet makes me inclined to start with that; however, I am going to defer that till a future blog so I can spend an entire blog on each specific tool. Again, you can download the spreadsheet from my website and look it over before I discuss how to manage it. Or, you could just buy the book!

So, with this caveat in mind, I will begin with the good ol’ Dayplanner. Seems not too long ago when this was the gold standard of time management for business types. It was compact, functional, and easy to carry around. Of course, technology has degraded this tool to some degree (CrackBerry), but there are many who still love the idea of writing on real paper. Heck, I saw two at the coffee shop this week alone!

So how does one use this archane device for managing their writing tasks? You must remember back to your weekly appointment to begin. Then, the first step will be to enter this appointment into your Dayplanner calendar for every week you have slots. Sorry, nothing is for free. If your appointment is more than one day per week, then enter for each day you wish to write.

Okay, now is where you have to do some work on your task list generated during your task decomposition a couple months back. Step one, take your list and order it in a logical manner. After all, you wouldn’t start chapter two if chapter one was not complete, or would you? Assuming you apply some level of logic, you should have ordered your tasks based on a realistic sequence.

Next, we must calculate how many of our appointments each task might take. This is only an estimate, so don’t get too hung up on this step. If a task is something like write chapter one, then I would set aside at least two to three weeks worth of appointments to complete this. Yeah, that is all you will do for those appointments. If not, you will never get anything done, trust me!

Excellent, take that wonderful list of tasks you created, pick a starting date based on your ordered list, then append the tasks onto each weekly appointment from that start date until the specified number of appointments has been successfully met. Actually write the task name in the Dayplanner for that day and appointment. This will also provide a wonderful log of your efforts as you go along. Pencil is preferred, but if you don’t expect change, pen works, too.

Finally, add each additional task into your Dayplanner during your appointment until all tasks have been entered. If you work on your computer a lot, place the Dayplanner next to your keyboard and have it open to the current week. When you are starting your weekly appointment, look at the entry in your Dayplanner to see what you should be working on during that appointment. Don’t cheat, work on what the Dayplanner tells you! Voila, you are managing your time and your tasks.

If this seems a little time intensive, then you have discovered why this tool has degraded over the years. There is a good reason I go with a spreadsheet for task management, but this works, too. I find the most difficult thing about a Dayplanner is I lose that uber view of all my tasks. Also, I lose the flexibility of changing order and start dates, although if you use pencil, you can still have some flexibility.

The good ol’ Dayplanner is still a wonderful tool for managing your time. If you already use one for appointments in your day job, then adding your writing into it may be just the trick. If not, you may consider an electronic tool for the future. Maybe a combination of the two is also appropriate. If you are interested in the Dayplanner, I suggest FranklinCovey for your initial investment. They are one of the best and have so many solutions to meet your needs. I suggest the weekly planner inserts as opposed to the daily planners, but that is if all you are doing is managing your writing. If you use it for your job, the daily planners would be best.

I have given you a basic process for managing your appointment to write and the tasks you will perform during that appointment. The Dayplanner is a wonderful tool, but is overshadowed by so many electronic solutions available. However, if you prefer pencil and paper for your management needs, the Dayplanner can’t be beat. Only you can decide what will work best for you, but decide you must, else your writing day will never get planned or executed! Remember keep that appointment religiously.

Now, where did I put that leash?

Let the writing begin!

 

Clickety-click clickety-click clickety-click…

“Daddy!”

Oh, boy…now what?

“Yes, honey!”

“Tori keeps taking my pictures!”

Sigh…here we go…

Tori the terrible.

Tori the terrible.

Welcome to the new blog titled “Why Can’t I Get Anything Done?”. This blog is the logical follow on to the book of the same name and will contain similar material as presented in the book. Of course, the book will always have the most detailed information, but sometimes the blog will present something new that will make it into a subsequent edition of the book.

So what is the blog about, you might ask? Simple, it is a collection of tips and techniques to make you more efficient in your writing and in your publishing. Now, don’t start thinking this will give you tried and true techniques that will land you a big publisher contract, because there are plenty of trade magazines that will do that. No, this is for the DIY author who loves controlling their own work from start to finish.

So, who am I to tell you how things should be done? Well, I have been in the military, worked as an engineer in the high-tech fields, and currently teach mathematics in a local high school. How does that qualify me? First, I have developed easy processes that help bring sanity to an insane world, and second, I love to tinker with technology, so I play with it first and then bring it to you. You could say I am an efficiency expert with a slant towards technology.

Along the way to helping you achieve your publishing dreams, I will entertain with short vignettes of anecdotal stories about why I can’t get anything done. You may relate to this yourself, assuming you don’t live alone and do nothing but write. My life is very full, and while I love it dearly, it easily takes me away from my passion, writing.

Between my lovely wife, our house, my job, our dog, our two kids, my orchids, my mountain bike, my golf clubs, my friends, and my XBox, I always have plenty to distract me. My fabulous daughters, Empress Erika and Tori the Terrible, are a constant source of distractions except when napping. My wife, very understanding about my “hobby”, has her own ways of distracting me, some of them I don’t mind so much. They are a magical part of my life, and despite the distractions, they are an inspiration for my work.

Oh, did I also mention I write novels? Three published to date, the fourth struggling to get traction (I’ve been busy)! Okay, yes, I need to take my own advice, but I’m working on it. They are part of a Science Fiction series which I hope to follow up next year with an Urban Fantasy series. Hey, maybe the train has left the station, but I am sure I can still hitch a ride!

So sit back, relax, subscribe to the RSS feed, and prepare for entertaining DIY information to help you pursue your publishing dreams. I’ll try to update the blog monthly, but sometimes life will get in the way of even that. However, for most of the year, it should be regular as clockwork (see picture at top to understand pun). Since I teach for a living, yes, writing hasn’t been profitable enough, I do get summers off so I may throw out an extra blog or two during those months. Keep tuned in and keep writing, no matter what!

Can’t wait for the blog? Well, you could always buy the book first and see what you think! Either way, if you want to publish your work without others to get in the way, then find out why you can’t get anything done and learn how to work around life to fulfill your publishing dreams!

Norm