ROWtips Update 2-26

Hi everyone! Well for the first time this round I actually don’t have a book review. Christopher Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey is an incredible read and a bit more lengthy than most of what I’ve done so far so it is still in process (more on that further down). Because I love to make my ROW updates “value added” and I know that many of you would like to know how I pull off my production every week, I’m going to give three exclusive tips to my fellow ROWer’s.

Here we go…

1) Use a task sheet. I use a weekly task sheet that I picked up on Jane Friedman’s site. Every Sunday (usually right after writing this update) I fill out a new sheet and review the previous week. This is a thirty minute session that puts me on track for the entire week.

2) Prioritize everything. Family, day job, writing, etc. When a task is completed, I can look at my task sheet and immediately know what I should be doing next. Once I’d done this for a few weeks I found a natural rhythm that works for me. Top priority is first choice every time, no dawdling, no whining – just get right into it. Only allow interruptions for “actual” emergencies (house on fire, need for hospitalization, an alien ship landed in the front yard and they are asking for you). When you write, turn your phones off or write with headphones on so you can’t hear them – trust me, there are few instances where immediate contact is necessary.

3) Be patient with yourself. No one goes from 0 to 100 mph in one day. Maintaining the schedule I do took months of personal training, negotiations with my family and constant adjustments to priorities and schedules. Remember that life is a growth process, ever changing, ever evolving and roll with it. If something doesn’t work out, look for ways to make it work – don’t fret about the failure today and derail tomorrow’s efforts in the process.

And now, on to this weeks update…

-Write 7k of fiction a week. All good here, and even with Friday off due to a work emergency, I still exceeded the goal. I’m currently running test scenes for three different projects and things are going well.

-WWBC assignments. I’m suspending this goal for the time being. The project I am working on for WWBC is one of the three listed above. Progress is happening and once it gets to the stage where I can meet the assignments I’ll be bringing this one back.

-30 minutes of treadmill 6 days a week.  I’m going back to last rounds “30 minutes of treadmill 5 days a week”. This week I only did 4 walks. What I have found with doing 6 a week is that I get a great deal of strain in one of my ankles (a leg I broke about 5 years ago). Going back to five allows a couple of recovery days. The point of this goal is health and I am definitely seeing the results on that end.

-Read two fiction and two craft books by March 21. One of each is done. I’m two-thirds of the way through The Writer’s Journey which is my new favorite craft book. Absolutely fantastic! I’ll be reviewing it next week – but if you’ve considered reading this, yes, yes you should.

-Keep up sponsor duties. I visited 22 ROWer’s last week, a little below my normal but I went through a significant change in my work duties which took up more time than usual. I will continue to visit at least 20 every week and as many more as possible. By the way, from what I am seeing, you all are doing incredible this round *smile*.

That’s all for this week. Keep pressing for your goals.

Peaceful Journeys!

About Gene Lempp

Gene Lempp is a writer blending elements of alternate history, the paranormal, fantasy, science fiction and horror for dark and delicious fun. He unearths stories by digging into history, archeology, myth and fable in his Designing from Bones blog series. “Only the moment is eternal and in a moment, everything will change,” sums the heart of his philosophy. You can find Gene at his Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, WANATribe, Google+, Pinterest and StumbleUpon.
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28 Responses to ROWtips Update 2-26

  1. Your keeping right on track Gene. Everything seems to have fallen into a nice routine for you. I’m getting there too. Thanks for the tips. I’ll have to check out Jane Friedman’s sheet. I keep a running to-do list, which really helps. Looking forward to your review on The Writer’s Journey. Peaceful Journeys.

  2. Kerry Meacham says:

    Great advice. I keep my weekly TTD list electronically, and it helps tremendously. As I finish each task, I change the font to strike through and move it to the second page. When I’m finished with the week, I move any unfinished or recurring task to the next week. I then have a list showing what I did for the week left over on page two. I save these for review each quarter and annually. That way when my boss asks what I’ve accomplished, I don’t have to rely on my memory. I’ve been doing this for about five years. It works well.

    • Gene Lempp says:

      Nicole: Jane’s sheet is fantastic if you like to keep things in hard copy. Although, it isn’t portable so I suppliment the system with post-its attached to the writing notebook (moleskine) that I always carry with me. Thanks for the comment and support 🙂

      Kerry: I’m a bit slow on the electronic end. I’ve tried using various methods but for some reason the handwritten lists just work better for me. Maybe in the future, after upgrading to a better phone, I’ll be able to make the shift. Great system you have by the way – excellent idea! Thanks for the support, ROWbro. ~clink~

  3. Ali Dent says:

    Gene, Thank you for sharing your methods. They sound very similar to a book called Getting Things Done. I really like the post by Jane too. I’ve flip flopped from paper to electronic which has slowed me down from finding a rhythm. I use my hand held device all the time for everything but something about putting notes in there isn’t working so well.

    I’m a sticky note queen but never thought to use them the way you do. Once when we worked for Mercy Ships and thought we would live on the ship for a year, sticky notes were the first item I wanted to stock up on. LOL.

    I still have one question about your organizational methods in regard to commenting on other blogs in Row80. How many do you visit per day? In one of your posts you suggested to visit, was it 25? Do you spread them out over a couple of days? Do you visit the same 25? Do you keep a list of blogs to visit each week and tick them off day by day or what? I want to be supportive of others.

    I’m losing time not because I spend a lot of it on social media but because I don’t have a plan I’m comfortable with in the area of blog reading and commenting. Without a concrete plan, I flounder and you know they live on the bottom of the sea half blind. Ha!

    • Gene Lempp says:

      Ali: I’ve actually never heard of “Getting Things Done”, but I’ll be sure to look it up now. Thanks for the tip.

      Sticky notes are my best friend – I have twenty of them on the desk in front of me, all for different things: writing notes, music I want, books to buy, “hey don’t forget this!” notes, etc. And then, of course, the ones I referred to for weekly production that travel with me everywhere. Keeping them organized and visible are the top priorities.

      Okay – blog visits. For ROW, I visit every ROWer that posts to the Linky with a number ending in 2 – this is my sponsor assignment. Next, I try to visit every commenter to my update that is in ROW. These two generally put me at 15-20. Beyond that, I have a few people from past rounds that I always visit, call them my ROWfriends. Finally, I try to visit at least 3 people I’ve never visited, because ROW is all about supporting writers, not cliques *smile* So – sponsor + personal commenters + 5-6 ROW friends + 3 new = 25-30 each week.

      Now for spacing, yes I spread them out in three sessions – Sunday before nine, Sunday evening and Monday afternoon (after work). I try to keep each session to an hour tops which takes a bit of practice.

      Commenting on non-ROW blogs would be a post unto itself.

      Great comment, Ali. I hope this helps 🙂

  4. Inspiring words Gene! I checked out the form, and while I typically use any scrap paper lying around to write my to-do lists each week, I think I may give this one a shot – looks more organized, and maybe I won’t scramble around wondering where the heck I put it. Thanks for sharing the link.

    And WAY TO GO with the writing goal 🙂

    Thank you for the tips and being such a great role model!

  5. Stacy Green says:

    Great update as always, Gene. I love your advice on prioritizing and the task sheet. I have trouble staying on task throughout the week, and I know I’ve got to figure out a way to get better. I’m definitely going to check out the task sheet. Awesome job as always, and thanks for sharing!

  6. Ali Dent says:

    Thank you for the detailed explanation. Working out my time is this area is a top priority for me. I lose a lot of time wondering if I’m hitting the mark. I would love to see your system for commenting on non-ROW blogs. Currently, I’m making a list of blogs to visit weekly and then I will divide them during the week, I think. There are just sooo many out there and I’m getting all tangled up. Surely there is a logical way to approach blog reading and commenting, be supportive, a giver and not a taker, remain a curious learner, and still be productive in my WIP. I’m quite tired of blog reading and commenting eating my (WIP) lunch per se.

  7. Love that task sheet…I’m a terrible procrastinator, and there are two fields on there which will be very helpful to me – the things getting in my way and the parking lot. One of the problems I have is being myopic – whatever is in front of me right now gets my attention, so I tend forget things like school meetings, even if they are written in the schedule book I use to track clients. I don’t see it until the the day of – that is the type of stuff that gets in my way. Being made to look forward and identifying those things is great. And the parking lot is helpful because I KNOW I forget everything, so a lot of times I do something the moment it hits my world so I don’t forget it later – better to park it for later.

  8. Ali Dent says:

    Gene, sorry to flood your blog today. I’m home sick and in my planning/sorting/organizing zone. Here is a video of Dave Allen doing a Getting Things Done seminar for the Google staff. It’s 45 minutes long but it’s a great overview of his system and with your current level of productivity it may be all you want but the book is great too.

    • Gene Lempp says:

      Marie: The task sheet is one of my most useful tools. I print and hole-punch them and keep them in a binder next to my desk (which is where I do 90% of my work). The hardest part is training yourself to update it between tasks but it is worth the effort. Thanks for the comment and support 🙂

      Stacy: Give it a try. No one method works for everyone but they are all worth a try just for the fact that it may put you on the path to developing a custom method that works for you.

      RRW: Have to say I was exactly like you describe yourself at the beginning – myopic. It’s taken the better part of year to change from that to my current state – although much of that was hunting for systems that would work for me. Jane’s sheets was one of the keys for me, I hope it works for you as well 🙂

      Ali: I know exactly what you are talking about when it comes to non-ROW blogs – made the list – tried to prioritize – have 80+ subscriptions equaling 250+ posts a week. Read what you can, promote what you can and know that some just have to be let go. There is no shame in that, we all have busy lives and no one can be expected to keep up with the never-ending flow. That is it in a nutshell – there is more I could say but for reasons of brevity I’ll stop there. Thanks for the video, I’ll give it a watch during the week. I learn processes rapidly so I’m sure the video will give me most of the method – if not, then the book 🙂

  9. K.B. Owen says:

    Fab job as usual, Gene! I love the task sheet idea; more definitive than my to-do list, haha. Oh, and btw, when the aliens land in your yard and come asking for you (and we know they will), tell them “NO!” We earthlings need you too badly, LOL.

  10. You’re amazing Gene! With all you have on your plate you still have time to come by and encourage me. Thank you Gene. I really appreciate that. I know you’ve had a stressful week at work. I hope this week is a better one. Take care. 🙂

  11. alberta says:

    I jot down what I would like toacheive for coming week in my writing diary – is flexable tho’ life iften stands in the way -quite happy to carry forward. Row80 blogs I try and do 10 a day on sun, mon, tuesday – I have quite a few blogs e-mailed to me which I read first thing in morning – not always commenting I have to confess

    keep up the good work and take care you can’t always trust an alien

  12. I’ve been using my version of a task sheet for months. Who knew I was organized? Not me. lol
    Seriously, it’s a life-saver for getting tasks completed and keeping priorities straight.

    Glad you shared your *formula* for blog visits in the comments. That’s a good idea.

    Good luck with your upcoming week!

  13. Gene! You always inspire!! I love this idea of a Weekly Task Sheet. I use to-do lists (which I call possibility lists) and now… I am thinking… the value of a Weekly Task Sheet… although I may choose to name it differently, will work well for me. What a delight!

    Also, your comment to Ali is invaluable:

    >>Read what you can, promote what you can and know that some just have to be let go. There is no shame in that, we all have busy lives and no one can be expected to keep up with the never-ending flow.<<

    Continue to count and celebrate all those lush "ta-da's!" I know I enjoy reading of them!

    • Gene Lempp says:

      Kathy: Depends on what the aliens offer me *grin* Thanks for the support and I hope that Jane’s sheet helps out.

      Karen: I think the coming week will be calmer. Thank you for taking a moment to stop in and give me that boost I really needed 🙂

      Alberta: Good system and with built in flexibility – even better. Thanks for the support 🙂

      Bridgette: I guess the blog comment did come off as a formula but I don’t view it that way. There are limitations to what each of us can do and what I said comes from months of experience in searching for a way to do the most despite my own limits (mostly of time). Thanks for the support and keep up the organization – it is indeed a life-saver 🙂

      Julie: Actually, mine is called a “Goal Sheet” – had the word task on the mind this morning apparently. Love epiphanies, but I love sharing them even more. Thanks for the support and I hope the “Goal Sheet” works for you – I know it’s been life changing for me and made all the difference in staying sane and productive.

  14. I hate it when aliens interrupted my writing time.
    I use cozi to keep track of everything. I would go crazy (ier) other wise.

  15. Ahhhmazing week Gene and I love your tips and tricks that you share with us. Fantastic. I can’t wait to read your review of The Writer’s Journey!

    • Gene Lempp says:

      Alica: Never said I wasn’t crazy, just organized *grin*

      Natalie: I can’t wait to write the review. This is, bar none, the most useful craft book I’ve read and I’ve already decided to cycle it back through in a few months – which is something I never do. Thanks for the support 🙂

  16. Thank you for the tips, Gene. I have to work around my ADD, so anything on paper is very helpful. It will be baby steps for me, certainly at the outset, but hey, baby steps are progress. Thanks for the inspiration!

  17. The Writer’s Journey is the bomb. I keep mine within arm’s reach of the ol’ laptop. Thanks for sharing your ‘time management’ process. Fantastic week Gene. Go you! Wishing you the best for the upcoming week.

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  19. Jenny Hansen says:

    I love the Writer’s Journey too – I heard him speak live and here, 4 years later, I’m still processing some of what he said. Chris Vogler is amazing. (And so are you, my friend!)

    I still say, with the schedule you keep, that in a few years we’re all gonna say, “Yeah, that Gene Lempp…we knew him BEFORE he was a NYTBSA. Great dude. Sings like Barry White. Did you know he speaks squirrel?”

  20. Gene, thanks so much for the link to that task sheet! It’s exactly what i needed. 🙂


  21. KM Huber says:

    Just wanted to thank you for reminding me that a writing routine takes patience. Every time I remember that, the “failure of the day” does really fade. Thanks!

  22. Marcia says:

    Some friends and I were just saying the same thing about getting to all the blogs each week. We can only do just so much and then hope others understand that and not begrudge us our limitations.
    Plan to print that task/goal sheet–it’s probably just what I need. It sure does take time and patience to develop some kind of system for getting everything done.
    Great job on your goals this week, Gene! You are obviously quite the inspiration for all of us!

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