Reporting Actual Progress

Keeping track of my progress, reporting my progress to you every month is an important part of my process. The year, 2022, is galloping away from the starting line. It’s the end of January and this is my progress report. After a very long and difficult 2021, I’m happy that there is actual progress in this progress report.

Intentions

Instead of goals or resolutions, I use intentions. You can miss a goal. You probably break most resolutions. But an intention is a focus. When life gets in the way of your plan, take care of that event or disturbance, intending to return to your primary plan. Every morning begins with a renewed intention. 

In order to track activities accurately, I divide my intentions into four large “buckets:” Making, managing, marketing, and home.

Making

Making is the process where words get on paper or the digital facsimile. I spent 68% of my work time on making. That’s not quite back where I’d like it to be, but it’s much closer than it’s been. Happily, I put more words on paper this month than any of the previous 15 months.

My intention was to be done with this beta-reader driven revision of If I Should Die by today. I came very close. Two or three days of double-checking punctuation and spelling, and If I Should Die will fly to my editor.

I wrote twelve out of fourteen blog posts. Several of them received a lot of comments and attention. Thank you. Story Time Reviews Valedictorian, Beware of Wet Footprints, How to Create a Safe Place in Your Mind, Story Time Reviews Operation Haystack, and 10 Warning Signs You’re Doing too Much ranked in the top five posts visited this month.

Managing

This bucket is huge in scope. It covers anything that is not creating words (blog posts, stories, or newsletters) or marketing. There are two big news items in the managing area this month.

First is that I finished the first stage of redesigning my website. It takes a lot of time to design and implement that design. Though most of the redesign time happened in December, I spent many hours on it this month as well. There’s still much to be done, but I can do it in smaller bites.

The second big news item is the new covers for the books in the Fellowship Dystopia series. Haven’t seen them? You can see them on my home page or on their individual pages. And of course, changing out the covers isn’t complete either. Having new book covers means new bookmarks and webpages and loading the new covers on all the bookseller sites and social media sites. Of course, I’m not quite finished with this either.

Marketing

Out of necessity, marketing got the short end this month. However, that will change over the coming months.

Home

I’m in the middle of way too many projects around the house. A little progress here and there means the upheaval can be ugly to look at and difficult to live with. Remind me, please, that the tortoise won the race.

New and Renewed Intentions

February will be a busy month. When I receive my manuscript back from my editor, I will turn my focus back on If I Should Die. Once I’ve incorporated recommended changes, I’ll set up a preorder, send the manuscript off the proofreader, and send the ARC to my team of advanced readers.

In between editors, I’ll start work on the third book in the series.

Redesigning is in my blood these days. In my *spare* February moments, I will remove everything in my office, install new shelves, tops, equipment, and a new sit-stand desk. I’ll be taking pictures and sharing them with my newsletter subscribers. Yes, newsletter subscribers, you will get a newsletter soon.

I’m taking a marketing course for authors, an area where I need lots of help.

There’s cleaning and rearranging planned for the “Home” bucket, too.

What I Learned

My focus for January was to finishing the book, so I only attended three short webinars this month.

Two webinars I attended taught new ways to use some specific web tools. The third one was on using touch in my writing. Not only did I learn new ways to write, I enjoyed learning from one of my favorite teachers, Margie Lawson.

My biggest lesson over the past year hits home again as I mark the first anniversary of my husband’s death.

If you’ve loved someone deeply, you will grieve deeply after that person is gone. But gone isn’t forgotten and love is not fragile. Love’s embrace may change, but it endures—always.

What do you think of my actual progress in this Progress Report? Did you make actual progress this month or are the pandemic or other stressors weighing you down?


Image Credits

Top Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay

Middle Photo by Alexey Turenkov on Unsplash

Final Photo by Visual Stories || Micheile on Unsplash

What I Learned 2020

“What I learned in 2020” could be a joke. Sadly, last year’s problems will continue for a while. But I am a writer. And a business woman. A review of my year is still necessary.

Intentions

a tree with circles instead of leaves and words like goals, ideas, strategy, marketing, etc in the circles--what I learned is to do a little of each

I use a couple of systems blended together to record and track my intentions each year. (If you need help creating your yearly plan try Orna Ross’s Go Creative.) I divide my intentions into four primary areas: Make (anything creative), Manage (anything business related), Market (advertising and anything related to advertising), and Home (everything else.) Last year started with an extensive list of intentions. By the end of the year, I thought I’d failed most of them.

I always think I’ve failed to accomplish the things I wanted to do at the end of the year. Therefore, I regularly review my intentions and what I do and don’t accomplish.

Make

The Make portion of my intentions consumed 66% of my time. This came very close to fulfilling my intentions.

The plan was to finish the first draft, the revision draft, and publish If I Should Die, book two of the Fellowship Dystopia. I also included a stretch goal of outlining a novella and the next book in the Fellowship Dystopia. 

Did. Not. Fulfill those intentions. But I finished the first draft, created a revision draft outline, and had 25,000 words on the revision draft by the end of December. 

Also on the Make list was blogging three times a week. I got 94% of the posts done and online. 

What I learned in 2020 is that being preoccupied by pandemics and protests and national issues, revision takes more time.

Manage

image of a yellow street sign with the word project on it. The O in project is a maze with an arrow showing the entry and an arrow showing the exit. What I've learned is that most projects are a maze of intentions and getting things done

This area includes reading, production, statistics, website stuff, learning, and general office chores. It took approximately 23% of my time.

I purchased new artwork.

 Learning about ads and blurb writing and refining some writing skills were high on my intentions list. I completed 63% of the online classes I had intended to finish.

I read 66% of fiction books and 50% of the nonfiction I had intended to read. Ouch!

I did not finish setting up my new mail service and did not get newsletters changed over to the service. 

For my website, I had intended to revise the front page and add a couple of new pages. Those things did not get done. I kept up with updating plugins and the content management system.

What I learned in 2020 was that I had to recover some time. I reduced the time I spent on Social Media. And I didn’t watch the news. And I could focus better.

Market

wordie with digital marketing in the center and sales activities surrounding it

My marketing intentions were small, as I only have two books to advertise. Trying out the various platforms and learning how to use digital ads took about 11% of my working time.

An ads class taught me how to advertise my books on Amazon.

I spent a lot of time studying blurbs and blurb writing.

A contest helped boost my newsletter membership.

Thanks to a friend, I appeared on the Mysterious Goings On podcast hosted by Alex Greenwood. My episode was fun thanks to the wonderful host.

What I learned in 2020 is that marketing is a whole ‘nuther skill.

Home

I spent a lot of my energy, both physical and emotional, on the home front during 2020. (Are you surprised?)

My husband spent January in the hospital and a rehab center. February brought hours of doctor’s visits, physical therapy, and caregiving.

March brought the world a pandemic and self-quarantine. Just call me FaceTime Grandma.

July through September, my son renovated my large yard. He removed two overgrown (5-6 feet tall and 6-10 feet wide), old and scraggly bushes. Filled low areas of the yard with wheelbarrows full of soil. He verticut and re-seeded the lawn. I watered and watered and watered it.

Also in July, my 15-year-old Yorkie, Astro, became very ill. We eased his suffering and euthanized him on August 8th.

Car problems plagued us. The squirrels ate my Toyota Wheelchair van’s wiring. And my Suzuki needed a new ball-arm joint.

A friend died of cancer in December.

I learned to roll with the punches. And I learned that good happened amongst the bad. My husband’s health is stable for the first time in six years. 

What I Learned in 2020

I am human. I care about other people and the country. So I learned to acknowledge that caring takes energy. Even remote in quarantine, caring.

I learned to be kind to myself. Finding an hour or two of personal time each day became one of my priorities. That meant I would not meet some of my intentions. What I learned in 2020 was to be okay with taking care of myself during this unprecedented time. Did you learn to take care of yourself during 2020? 

The Messy Second Quarter of 2020

Can you believe it? In a few more days we will be at the end of June. Worse. The Messy Second Quarter of 2020 outdid the chaos of First Quarter.

Image of a calendar with lists of to-dos and dones but the messy second quarter of 2020 didn't go as well as I'd hoped.

If you’re a long time reader of this blog you know that I set Intentions not goals (though that’s mostly semantics). You’ll also recall that I divide my things to do into four buckets: Making, Managing, Marketing, and Home. And I analyze each month and quarter in terms of hits and misses.

MISSES

Make

Finish the first draft of If I Should Die. NOT DONE.

For me, writing and creating during the pandemic, the protests, and all the other shenanigans going on has been difficult. First Quarter fell far short of my projection. So did two-thirds of Second Quarter. But June has seen an improvement. If I Should Die is a little more than 77,000 words now. There are three scenes to write before the three quarters mark and, of course, the last act needs written. That means approximately 25,000 words to go. 

Manage

Learn the new email service. NOT DONE. I haven’t had the time and the energy.

Home

Once a month I will remove one bag of items we wish to donate. NOT DONE In fact, I did the opposite. I had three bags of my husband’s clothing bagged up and re-sorted them so I have zero bags going to a donation site. SIGH. Two pack rats in the same house is a deadly combination.

HITS

Make

Blog two-to-three times a week. DONE 

Produce a monthly newsletter. DONE Produced and sent out one each month. I hope that those of you who subscribe enjoyed them.

ADDED: Learn Dictation. Dictation increased my word count to near last year’s word count. I’ve learned that for me, dictation allows me to write a with very little interference from my editor self. And although I’m using Apple’s rather clunky speech-to-text program, this is a definite win.

Manage

Work with the new cover artist and have at least one new cover by the end of the quarter. DONE. Yay! The new covers for Fellowship and My Soul to Keep are ready but the reveal will be close to the time when I send If I Should Die to the editor.

ADDED: Read. I finally got back to some reading.

I read Martha Wells’ All Systems Red and thoroughly enjoyed it. I’ve started the next in the Murderbot series, Artificial Condition. 

I also read Blurbs Unleashed by Robert Ryan and ReLaunch Your Novel by Chris Fox. Both books were well worth the time and money. I bet you can guess why I’m reading those two. *Smile*

Marketing

I had planned to let this go for second quarter. However, opportunities arose.

ADDED: I took Bryan Cohen’s free five-day course again. Another excellent learning situation. 

And I took the Kindlepreneur Marketing Class and two webinars about Amazon Ads. As a result, I’ve changed my ad strategy. It’s made a difference, though it’s too early to tell if it’s profitable.

Home

My goal changed once the Pandemic was in full swing. My entire focus has become maintaining my husband’s health (he has a history of multiple hospitalizations each year) and keeping fairly strict isolation. I’m happy to report both have been a success. My husband is in better health than he has been in years. This will be a temporary situation we know. His conditions are progressive. But we’ll take and enjoy the moment.

Intentions for Third Quarter

Image of postit notes on a bulletin board with the message "Make things Happen." The messy second quarter of 2020 leads to the intentions for the third quarter.

MAKE

Finish If I Should Die and have the first draft to my first readers. This is definitely a rough draft so changes will I will do editing. That means I will not get this published in late fall as I had planned. I’ll wait on announcing a new pub date until I see how the next months go. 

Begin detailed outline of When I Wake.

MANAGE

Revise blurb and possibly get a new title for Fellowship. 

Continue the Newsletter (July, August, September) Stretch goal to do another subscriber growth push.

Make Plan for Revised Website. With new book covers and a new book coming out, this is a necessary thing but will probably take longer than three months.

MARKETING

I will keep ads running as they are for the next month. Then I will reduce spending on ads until relaunch day approaches.

I will relaunch Fellowship (or whatever its new name is) first. When I do, I’ll call on all of my readers for help. I did everything wrong the first time I launched my books. I will improve on that this time.

HOME

Continue to maintain isolation as long as the Pandemic remains at pandemic levels of infection. Attempt to maintain my husband’s health with telemedicine visits instead of office visits. 

Conclusion

None of us knows what the next quarter of 2020 will bring us. Another challenge? The pandemic and the protests certainly will continue. Hopefully, the leaders of our country (without federal leadership that means the state level leadership) will wake up and give the leadership we need to beat this pandemic AND to make the social changes we MUST make to reach something close to “all men (people) are equal.” Until next time! Stay healthy. Keep reading. And thank the stars that the messy second quarter of 2020 is over. 

Hits, Misses, and Challenges

It’s the beginning of a new quarter. Time to review the hits, misses, and challenges of my intentions for the last quarter. And as everyone knows, the last month of the last quarter was a doozy. This whole first quarter challenged me in unexpected ways. 

image of an open journal with a black pen lying on the page--I keep a journal so I can record hits, misses, and challenges--do you?

1st Quarter Intentions

If you recall from my post describing intentions, I make a list of intentions for four areas: Making, Managing, Marketing, and Home. At the end of each quarter I review my intentions so I know what my hits, misses, and challenges were. So you can follow my analysis, here’s my list of intentions for the first quarter of 2020.

Make: 

  • Resolve problems with the first half of my WIP. 
  • Finish the first draft. 
  • Blog three times a week. 
  • Publish three monthly newsletters.

Manage

  • Change to a different email service.
  • Finish an online copywriting class.
  • Read a book once a month.
  • Make regular Social Media posts.

Market

  • Complete a second class on Amazon ads.
  • Get new covers for My Soul to Keep and Fellowship. 
  • Print new bookmarks.
  • Increase the size of my mailing list.

Home

  • Bring my husband home from the rehab center.
  • Rearrange the bedroom to make it more caregiver friendly.
  • Prepare a garage sale.

1st Quarter Hits

Make: 

  • I figured out the problems with my manuscript and have made some forward progress. It’s fun to write again, and I am pleased with the work I have done to this point. I think my readers will enjoy this next book.
  • I blogged three times a week. Frequently I wrote the blog on the day I posted it, but each of them were posted before my noon cut off time. I count that as a win.
  • I published on newsletter and have another one that will go out next week.

Manage: 

I signed up for a new mail service.

Market

  • The second ads class was amazing. It taught me many things.
  • I’ve selected my new cover artist.
  • Many thanks to the Voracious Readers who joined my mailing list this quarter. I deeply appreciate the reviews you gave My Soul to Keep.

Home

  • My husband came home from the rehab center at the end of January.
  • The bedroom got rearranged. And it is more caregiver friendly.

1st Quarter Challenges

Being able to bring my husband home again was a joy and a lot of work. I did not anticipate how much his care needs had increased. And the sheer number of doctor’s appointments and home health appointments alone were a challenge. It was difficult to find the time and the energy to write. About the time I finally found a rhythm that allowed more writing time, COVID-19 became my next major distraction.

Fortunately, my family and friends are all safe and self-quarantined. Some are essential workers though, and while they are being careful, they are in harm’s way.

1st Quarter Misses

Make:

  • Completing the first draft of the novel was a big miss.
  • The newsletter was a partial hit in that I got one out.

Manage

  • Learning how to move my blog post emails and newsletter to a different email service has been postponed. 
  • I did not finish the online copywriting class.
  • Reading took a big hit. I started one book and still have not finished it.
  • Make regular Social Media posts also is a miss. Writing comes first, so this one I consider a lesser miss. (If that makes any sense.)

Market

  • It took a lot of studying dystopian novel covers, deciding what I liked and didn’t like, and lots of discussion with a dear friend before I knew what I wanted. So no new covers yet. But they will be awesome.
  • Printing new bookmarks obviously must wait on the new covers.

Home

The preparation for a garage sale has stalled. It’s hard to be motivated to prepare for something when the date is nebulous.

Second Quarter Intentions

Image of a bulletin board with a yellow post it that reads "make things happen"

Since I missed many of my intentions for the first quarter and life is uncertain now, I’m scaling back a bit.

Make: 

  • Finish the first draft of If I Should Die.
  • Blog two-to-three times a week.
  • Produce a monthly newsletter.

Manage: 

  • Work with the new cover artist and have at least one new cover by the end of the quarter.
  • Learn the new email service.

Market:

I will await new covers before I attempt to make new intentions for marketing.

Home: 

Once a month I will remove one bag of items we wish to donate. 

Hits, Misses, and New Opportunities

For me, reviewing what I’ve accomplished helps me keep things in perspective. It also helps me learn where I spent most of my energy. That knowledge helps me adjust, if needed, so I can set intentions that are reasonable. 

Want to learn more about intentions? Read Orna Ross’s posts.

Not everyone uses the same method to track what they want to do and what they accomplish. There are many roads to reach your destination. And I’m fascinated by the different methods people use. Do you set intentions or goals each month? Do you track your progress? And do you assess what your hits, misses, and challenges? If you don’t, how do you recognize new opportunities and set your intentions for the next month? Whatever your process is, I wish you the best for your work, your play, and your health.

A New Year and New Intentions

It’s the new year, time for…goals? Resolutions? I have missed many goals and broken many resolutions. But I have become a great fan of intentions. For the new year, make new intentions. What the heck do I mean?

Image of the word Start at the beginning of a road to the mountains, Make your new intentions for the new year.

Intentions

As a writer, I first came across the term creative intentions as explained by Orna Ross in her eleven-part blog series, The Power of Creative Intention for Creativepreneurs.

It is my belief that everyone is creative. See my post, You Don’t Have to Be an Artist. But I know not all of you believe that. So drop the word creative and just use intentions. 

Anyone and everyone can set intentions. About now you’re getting impatient for a definition. (I know I was when I started learning about this mindset). To get to a definition, we need to look at the root word, intend.

According to Merriam-Webster, intend means “to have in mind as a purpose or goalPLAN” or “to direct the mind on” or (archaic) to proceed on a course.

Take a leap of faith and begin this wondrous new year by believing. Believe in yourself. And believe that there is a loving Source – a Sower of Dreams – just waiting to be asked to help you make your dreams come true.

Sarah Ban Breathnach

To have in mind as a purpose seems a much better way to think about what my plans are for the new year. In my mind, a goal and a resolution have more permanence and allow little flexibility. An intention seems a more flexible way to plan despite the interruptions and disruptions we all face in life. 

close up of dart board, Keep your eye on the target with new intentions

We can miss a goal. We break most resolutions. But an intention is a focus. When life gets in the way of your plan, take care of that event or disturbance intending to return to your primary plan. Every morning begins with a renewed intention.

It’s a wise man who understands that every day is a new beginning, because boy, how many mistakes do you make in a day? I don’t know about you, but I make plenty. You can’t turn the clock back, so you have to look ahead.

Mel Gibson

More than One

Heck, you might have more than role and therefore more than one area of intentions. I am a writer which means I’m also a marketer and a website manager. Another of my roles is as a caregiver. Therefore, I have intentions for Making (writing stories), Managing (website and blog), Marketing (my books), and Home (caregiving and household duties).

When I decide upon my intention for a new year, I make one broad intention for each area.

My intentions this year are to finish If I Should Die (Make), Improve my website (manage), run ads for my books (Market), and be a compassionate caregiver and manage our household duties (Home). I also choose two or three secondary actions for each.

Going Forward

Once I know what my year’s plan looks like, then I break up those intentions into quarterly and monthly steps. No matter what life interruptions I have, I keep my focus because of my intentions. 

Do you make goals or resolutions? Or do you prefer setting intentions? What new intentions have you set for 2020?