peartreealley: (journal)
I've been having a dawning reality check the last couple of weeks, which finally crested over the horizon yesterday. I did the FateNet series (five novellas, total of 190k words) in 14-15 months from planning to publishing the last installment.

And I've been flogging myself with the Persephone Station series (three novels, estimated total of 180k) feeling like a total slacker because I'm not meeting my goals, with the delusion that I should be able to have it all out in... six months?

I mean, I understand somewhat where that delusion came from. It's only three books, my brain said. And you've gotten through some of the learning faff from the last series! But I didn't seem to taking into account that those three books were twice as long as the ones that came before them and so they might take... twice as long? I'm not actually sure if that's a straight multiple or if it's longer (more narrative complexities) or shorter (less shifting between activities). Twice as long is at least a somewhat realistic estimate that I can adjust from.

So I was talking to G the Project Manager about this yesterday, and he said, "While I do believe you can increase efficiency from the last series you did, perhaps you should consider a 10-20% increase in efficiency? Not... 60-70%?"

A long story short, I'm now aiming for twelve months from planning to final installment publication. (For my editors reading, don't worry--I still plan on having the first book to you in the timeframes agreed on. I'm just not also planning on having the first drafts of the second and third books also done by October.) If you're wondering, I'm counting twelve months from June to June. I technically started PS in April for a couple of weeks, but then shelved it until July to finish off FN, so I think that splits the difference.

Well, you learn. Eventually.

And twelve months is a lot friendlier for being derailed by relocation than six months.

***

G has three job interviews next week, only one of which is in London. I'm making peace with potentially relocating this autumn.
peartreealley: (Default)
Sharing to share. And because I want to keep this one. (Yes, the image seems broken, but it's the text I wanted.)

A reader named Molly asked me "you seem so confident in your 'you-ness" - how do you get to know yourself so well? I feel like I don't know who I am." Here's what I said: Dear Molly, If I tell you something like "your sense of self is entirely in your own hands," would you consider that good news or bad news? Hopefully it's the first, because it's true. In the 1960s, this dude named Daryl Bem came up with the theory of self perception, a theory of attitude formation. The theory says our sense of self is formed by our actions, not the other way around. I know that seems counter intuitive. We think that if you're an inherently brave person, you do brave things. But Bem's theory says it's the other way around. If you do a brave thing, you think of yourself as a brave person. I can hear your eyes rolling, but wait up, listen, it holds water as a theory. Let's imagine you're afraid to hang glide because you think of yourself as a coward. Now imagine your friends badger you into it anyway. You do it, and you're successful, even though you didn't choose it for yourself. Now you've done this brave thing, and you decide maybe you were wrong, you actually are a brave person. Subsequently you begin to think of yourself as someone brave. Later you tell the story of hang gliding to a stranger and they gasp—"you're so fearless," they say. Yes, you think to yourself, I guess I am! The story is confirmed. But IT'S NOT WRONG. You are what you do. Tell a story about yourself, you become that story. Good or bad. What does this have to do with your question? Maybe you've already figured it out. If you decide to go digging to find out who your are, all you'll find is an empty hole waiting to be filled. Who you are isn't a concrete entity waiting to be uncovered. You don't have to wistfully think, I wish I was a gentler person, but I'm just not: you can decide to be a gentler person. You don't have to sigh and wish you were braver: you can do brave things & grow into them. You don't have to say, I wish I was bad ass: buy a set of good sunglasses and live it until you are it. Is it easy? No. But I guess that's why they call it character-building. urs, Stiefvater

A post shared by Maggie Stiefvater (@maggie_stiefvater) on

peartreealley: (time motion manager)
Good morning,

I've been pondering and noting down changes to the 12 Year Week, and (on [personal profile] ironymaiden's helpful suggestion) talking to the Gryffindor about Agile and the single user.

The end result is a plan that goes into motion today, and runs the next four weeks. Working out the plan also revealed that I need a change of focus. I realize these are probably not exciting for most of my readers, but since I don't have a team to Stand Up and Retrospective with... well, I'll give this a shot for now.

So my high level four week plan looks a this:

Sprint 1: FN5 revision (up to 3 weeks/15 working days)
Sprint 2: FN4 ships. (3 working days, needs to overlap with Sprint 1, unfortunately.)
Sprint 3: Finish PS1 draft. (1-2 weeks/5-10 working days)

The math isn't perfect there because I have 4 weeks to do this all in, but it's an experiment... and I always did aspire to become a Time-Motion Manager.

(I'd better getting working, then....)

x

FN 5 Revision/Rewrite
0 / 30000
(0%)
peartreealley: (Default)
Following on my comments about the 12 Week Year yesterday, my brain has been humming:

One of the things that I realized is that even though a 12 week window is indeed shorter and more urgent than 12 months, it’s still too long of a window for me. I run best on intense intervals, and 12 weeks is plenty of time for me to drift off course.

With that in mind, I started playing with ideas on how to scale down the goal/tactics window to create more urgency and better fit into my processes. I also took another look at my vision statements.

Long term plans are not my forte, so 3 year, 5 year and 15 year (!) visions just don’t work for me. I can totally write them, but they’re too vague and too far out there. I know enough of my life patterns to know that something (probably me) is going to explode and my life is going to spin out in some mad way that invalidates every plan I had in the wings. Knowing that reality undermines the clarity and motivation the long term vision is meant to give me.

So I’m scaling that down, too. 6 months, 1 year, and 3 years is as far as I’m taking my visions. (Even 3 years feels dangerous.) I’m also adding a present vision--how are these goals I'm striving for right now going to give me the life I want right now?

Of course, the test is in the execution.

As it turns out, I have two projects I need to finish in the next 4 weeks, plus one that I'd really like to finish--and at the end of those 4 weeks I have a 2 week holiday planned which makes for a fairly immutable deadline. I don’t really want to leave anything hanging so here is my window and my urgency. It's not a perfect test because I can't replicate "4 weeks and then a 2 week holiday" every 6 weeks (if only!), but it should let me get through a scaled down cycle from beginning to end and evaluate it.

So, I guess I'd better get on with that....

x

PS 1 First Draft
35064 / 60000
(58.44%)

On Systems

Apr. 19th, 2017 02:03 pm
peartreealley: (Default)
I love productivity systems. It's awesome when getting things done is just a matter of plug-and-play.

(Of course, it's never that simple.)

But like most things, I need to adapt and customize it to fit my life. (Because I'm special and unique? Because I'm incapable of doing anything "out of the box" without fussing with it? Ha!)

Anyway, two of my favorite systems right now are:

1) Bullet Journal
2) The 12 Week Year

I've always preferred analog for organization, and so I've been playing with Bullet Journal for a couple of years. Initially I liked it because it let me keep everything in one place. Later on, I hated it because it kept everything in one place.

Last year, I bought myself a "wedding present" in the form of a (faux) Travelers Notebook with my married name stamped on it. It's been a good purchase, and it continues to get regular use, despite that I've changed how it gets used frequently. Because it's basically just a leather folder that holds a few notebook inserts a time, it's really perfect for someone who is constantly tailoring their system. (Assuming their system, like mine, tends to involve use of notebooks.)

Anyway, right now, my "bujo" system is as such:
Disposable notebook for to-dos, rapidlogging, and braindumps. At the moment this is an entirely separate item (cheap spiral-bound notebook) from my Travelers Notebook, although I think when I finish this one I'll switch to adding a notebook into my TN to keep everything in the same folder. The reason I keep this one part from other stuff is because I realized that having my to-do lists and random notes in with my more reflective journaling entries led to my journal being overwhelmed by "clean cat box x2" and "do laundry" and "check energy tariffs" and "see if library has this book" and I didn't like that, so I changed it.

Journaling. This notebook has been for reflection, occasional freewriting, and records I want to look back on. Flat things, like event ticket stubs, often end up taped in as well.

Life in Lists. An ongoing collection of bullet points. Places visited, books read, notable experiences, stories written, etc. This is, in a way, my answer to bujo migration.

My calendar is online because it's easier to coordinate with the Gryffindor. Despite having tried a lot of ways, I haven't found a satisfying answer to how to integrate my fiction into the system yet.

The 12 Week Year:
The basis of the system is that a year is a very long time. A lot of organizations create lofty annual goals without much of a plan on how to get there, which mean people procrastinate and faff around aimlessly for the first three quarters of the year, and then suddenly light a fire under their bums and are productive the last quarter when they're under pressure to achieve and make the goal. The idea behind the system is to get people working like that last quarter all the time.

To do this, you are asked to create a strong, emotionally-evoking vision of what you want your life to be (in one year, three years, and five years). From there, you ignore annual goals and instead set a small number (3-5) twelve week goals (personal and professional) that require a lot of focus and dedication, create tactics to achieve them, do weekly plans and reviews, and work diligently to achieve those goals each quarter. (The vision is to guide you and your goals and keep you motivated.)

To be honest, I'm still wrestling with this one, which means it may not be the right system. But I love the philosophy behind it and I think it has potential, and despite that they want you to subscribe wholly to it as written... I will play around with it for my second attempt. It's my nature. (Perhaps I should figure out how to integrate it into my bujo system, too! I did the tracking digitally last go-round.)

ETA: Here is a decent summary of what the book covers.

Anyway! What systems do you love?

Obligatory Writing Update:
PS 1st Draft
31014 / 60000
(51.69%)
peartreealley: (Default)
This morning, I set out a goal to hunker down in my newly cleaned studio for 3 hours (or, six 25/5 minute dashes, Internet blocked) and bust through 5k words on the new novel.*

The result? I passed 6k with 10 minutes to spare. At which point I was at a transition, so I stopped.

The how? Determination to catch up after not having added to the draft after a few days, and that I spent most of yesterday writing story beats for the next several scenes.

The lesson? Apply what I already know--I work well in sprints and when I know where I'm going.

The folly? Whenever I have a day like this, my mind goes wild with what if I could do this every day? But experience has taught me that I can't sustain much more than 3k a day without paying for it the next day (and sometimes days).

The ambition? Use what I already know, and build up my stamina. It's not that I want to write 5k every day, but it would sure be nice to know that I could. Note that it's an ambition, not a goal. I'd like to be able to do it, especially when chaos happens and deadlines are pinching. I don't want it to be more important than my goal of "writing good stories."**

*In Deep Work, Newport calls these "Rooseveltian Dashes" which is a bit lengthy to explain the name, but basically it's setting a goal and giving yourself just slightly less time than you think you need to accomplish it--thus forcing you to work with blistering intensity and unable to entertain distractions if you want to meet your goal.

**Which, of course, is not to say that stories written quickly are not good. By most people's metrics, I'm already a fast writer. It's more than I don't want the number to be more important than writing the story.

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