Monday, January 13, 2020

Where do you go to find yourself?

How do you define your identity as a human being? Is it a matter of gender, or of being a certain age?  Having a particular profession? Are you defined by your actions and achievements?  Your family and friends?  Their expectations, or your own dreams?

At church Sunday, the topic was baptism, and the text was Matthew’s account of John baptizing Jesus. Reverend Renée said that Jesus didn’t need to be baptized, because He had a perfect relationship with the Father and He had no sin; therefore Jesus had no need for repentance.  However, by coming to the river with those who were looking for healing, renewal and grace, Jesus participated with them in their pain and their need, and in so doing, discovered who He was.  Reverend Renée hypothesized that without the baptism, there might have been no ministry, no atonement, and no resurrection.

I like her idea that “we discover who we are in community.”  That’s definitely true of creative people, which is why I need the Writers Coffeehouse, the Huachuca Arts Association open studio, the monthly open mic reading at Broxton’s and my critique groups.  I don’t just learn craft there; I also learn who I am.

But I don't want to be like Ernest Hemingway, with his self-destructive impulses and his inability to continue living when he could no longer write.  I cannot simply define myself as a writer, or an artist; I am more than what I do, or how well I do it.

Sunday, we came, one by one, but also as a congregation, to dip our fingers into a bowl of water and choose a glass pebble.  "Remember your baptism, Tina" Reverend Renée said, and I picked a smooth, blood-red piece of glass that was practically glowing in the sunlight.  

"Put this where you can see it," she told us all.  And I have, because I want to remember that I am part of something much larger than myself, and that we are all figuring things out together.  I am loved, and I do not have to walk alone.

Buy your own glass gems <https://www.amazon.com/Miracolors-Colors-Fillers-12-19mm-Approx/dp/B00OPN5IZU>

Monday, January 28, 2019

Time Tracking Tools for Writers - Getting Started

You know you need to keep better track of your time, but how can you do it easily, without spending a lot of money?

Many software companies offer a brief free trial, followed by a monthly fee or subscription.  If you are making enough money on your writing to justify an expense of $60 or more per year, go for it.  If you're just starting out, or if you are a poet like me, you might prefer something a little less pricey.  You can always upgrade after you make the New York Times Bestseller List.

I personally use Caato, a free time tracker that lets me know how much time I'm spending on each writing task.  I can enter the times manually, or I can let it keep track of my work time down to the second.

If you were to enlarge this screen shot, you'd see that so far this year, I've spent an inordinate amount of time clearing my desk - which seems low-level but I've gotten really tired of not having room to work, so this really is a first-quarter priority for me.

Another embarrassing insight is that I've spent a lot of time on "NOS" (not otherwise specified) tasks, so in February I'll be watching that category closely, to make sure I'm really using my time well, and not just puttering about at my desk.  It's pretty easy to avoid the hard work of writing by playing at it, and I'm always prone to falling into rabbit holes.

If you don't use a Mac or if you also use mobile platforms, Caato won't be the best choice for you.  Fortunately, there are a myriad of options out there for every computer, tablet, phone and gadget imaginable.  Here's a link to a really useful list from appadvice.com.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Time Tracking Tools for Writers - Why?

  


Effective time management skills may seem more appropriate for a Fortune 500 executive than a freelance writer, but creative people may need good time management tools and habits more than anybody else on the planet.




Think about it - we are busy, creative people with obsessive tendencies who are interested in everything, who may fixate on a new idea or task and forget everything else or who may be distracted by almost anything in our environment.  Most of us have to write in odd moments while holding a full-time job and/or raising a family.

To make things worse, we're writing in a constantly changing environment, with markets that are evolving and an industry that provides less editing and marketing support to writers.  We have to take on many of the promotional and marketing tasks which were previously handled for us by publishers.

Oh, and did I mention that many of us are novices, beginners who are on the steep part of the learning curve, where every task seems to take more time than we expected, and we experience more failures than successes, whether we're writing a first novel, self-publishing the first book of poems, or just stumbling through the revision process?  Even established writers have to be lifelong learners who are constantly experimenting and trying something new in order to keep their writing fresh or to keep up with changes in the market.

If you can't manage your time effectively, how on earth are you going to get your writing done?  You need tools and skills.


CREDITS - Artwork

  • "Man Typing" by wesd440. <https://openclipart.org/detail/220395/Man-Typing>
  • "busy busy busy" by cactuscowboy <https://openclipart.org/detail/290725/busy-busy-busy>