Posted in Creative Living, The Currents, The Writer's Life, Uncategorized

February Recap & March Goals

Well, here we are at the beginning of another month. I’m sitting down with my planner, notebooks, worksheets, and being midful to stay optimistic about the month ahead. There are some big things on the horizon for me. I’m trying to pull myself out of a major depression that seems to have settled on me in the last couple of months. (This is an ongoing battle for me.) Trying to keep my focus on where I’m headed, and the progress I have made.

Recap:

I did get the framework set up for the companion YouTube Channel for this blog. There aren’t any videos yet. I am working on finding a way to film so that I can get content up. Definitely meant to be part personal vlog and part curated content. So feel free to pre-subscribe so you’ll get notified when the first video comes up this month.

I also got the design work done for promotional materials that will be part of my booth at the Tyler Paranormal Convention in April. I’m very excited about that event. Frankly, any event that gets me out of the house and among people again is exciting after all the time in lockdown. It isn’t like I had an exciting social-life before this began. However, I am attributing some of this depression and anxiety to the fact that what little social interaction I had outside my immediate family has been halted for way too long. For goodness sake, I’ve resorted to trying EHarmony at this point (which is a great fail that I will discuss in a later post). So, yes, I am looking forward to having the ability to get out and meet people again on a more regular basis. Anyway, all that’s left is to place the orders for the new signage, promotional merchandise, and some new business cards.

Carry over items from the February list will be to continue working on the revisions for the new book. I am thinking that I’m about to call it ready for the editors. I’m excited about this series. It feels much more naturally dramatic and relatable to me. I hope that you readers feel the same way once it is out there in the great wide world.

Uncle Joe’s Coffee & Cones in Gilmer, TX

March Goals:

  • Finish the revisions on the new book project.
  • Hit the coffee house more often for a work session!
  • Start the outline for book two.
  • Hire an artist to work with for creating the logo/art and cover art for this series.
  • Get myself registered for nail tech school (attending this fall so I can get my certification and license).
  • Get the promotional materials and product inventory ordered for in-person events.
  • Get the inventory done and topped off in time for Paracon!
  • Get to filming for the Make Mine Bold YouTube Channel and start posting video content.
  • Plan a writer’s retreat weekend away somewhere pretty and inspiring (preferably with a pool).

Yes, those goals include a “side-hustle” plan. But, with Texas opening back up and all the restrictions being lifted on masks and isolation, it is time to start thinking outside the box again and looking at more events for the books. It’s also time to think about just getting out more in general. I’m glad that I have found a local spot to take my laptop and set up for a change of scenery. Local coffee houses are always good things. I think the one I’ve found in Gilmer is fun and quirky. While I always have the option of a more hipster experience by going into Longview as well. Something a bit more sophisticated is still eluding me though. Starbucks just doesn’t cut it for me anymore. I prefer local shops to big franchises these days. And yes, atmosphere plays a big part in my choices of where to spend my time out of the house.

On a more personal note, I have to get more focused on wellness this month. The battling with depression has been going on for months but, has become more difficult to push through in the last few weeks. Since the lockdowns put me out of a regular job, I’ve had no insurance to be able to go to the doctor for anything. As someone who was on maintenance medications for diabetes (among other things), this has been a problem when the refills ran out. But, I have a doctor’s appointment to try and set things back in order this week. Cash prices for everything means that it is going to be expensive but, it has to happen. Just like I also need to make an appointment for Pip to get his annual physical and shots. As I told him if I have to go and be poked and prodded, so does he.

Okay, it is time to get to work on things but, more coming this week for the blog! I know I skipped over a week, and I’m trying to be more consistent.

Tell me what your biggest goal for this month is in the comments! Let’s try to cheer one another on this month. Lord knows we can all use some support at times.

Posted in Lessons Learned, Reviews, The Currents, The Writer's Life

Planning for change…

In an effort to be transparent, I might have a slight addiction to stationery and planners. They are my most-purchased items when I go to the store. I have wishlists on my Amazon dedicated to pens, notebooks, planners, stickers, journals, and the like. I’m a girl who is more excited by a gift card to Staples, Office Depot, or Hobby Lobby than I am jewelery. I know, many will find this strange and unusual. I also know that I’m not the only one out there.

I’ve spent the last week sitting down with some of my tried and true planning products to consider goals for this year and how to reach them. I want to write about my goals as a matter of keeping a record, but I also want to give my fellow planner addicts and those who are looking to get more organized my recommendations for tools based on what works for me. I’ve tried so many over the years that I know I can give you some great feedback on these. I’ll likely also do a video review at some point in the future as I pursue another goal. Right now, I’m not an affiliate for any of these products. They are simply honest recommendations based on my personal experience.

There are two major considerations for me when I choose a planner now; functionality and cost. As a student I need something that is affordable and will also allow me to track all the things that I need to for my schooling, business, and life in general. I need a planner that serves as a place to document life and creative efforts while also being easy to use and take with me. I personally prefer a pen and paper planner to a digital one. I love my iPad and I have experimented with a digital planner but, when all is said and done, I keep going back to the paper versions.

For the creative focused with plenty of time on their hands, nothing beats a BUJO. Bullet Journaling is the epitome of cusomized planning systems. There are no hard and fast rules for it. It is also probably the most affordable at the minimalist level to get started. I adored the versatility of this and honestly, if I weren’t so busy, I would keep doing my own because it is a hybrid of journal and planner that you create with a simple notebook and pens. Sure you can embellish with washi tape, stickers, and stencils. There are some awesome artistic examples out there. And if you search on YouTube there are loads of tutorials. Some of the best notebooks I’ve used for this have been the EXCEED brand that I’ve found at Walmart for about $7-$9. But you can also adapt any notebook you choose for this purpose. The biggest con for me was the amount of time it took to set it up and actually do the planning every day. I decided to find something that already had a basic usable structure for my use.

Another affordable option that is highly effective in terms of goal setting and task management is maybe a surprising one. Momentum Planners by Productive Flourishing (found here) was a surprising find for me. The price point of $18 gets you a digital, full-featured, printable planner that will help you stay motivated to reach those goals by tracking progress on tasks. They are minimalist in design focusing more on function making them great for people who like a less artistic approach. This one works well for business needs, academics, and even for writers. This allows you to get a year overview of your goals, break it down by quarters, then monthly, weekly, and finally daily. The pros to this system are a big list really. What I would take away is that you have the ability to make changes as needed without all the erasing, white-out, and correction tape. Simply print out a new blank page. The form-fillable PDF also allows you to keep things neat despite character limitations in most fields. They do offer a printed and bound version of this in limited supply at the end of the year prior. For my money, I like the PDF and being able to print what I want. I use this one as a worksheet to get the goals down, actionable, and generally keep a relevant copy of the yearly, quarterly, and monthly printed and with my other planners.

I’ve used the Erin Condren Life Planner for years. However, recent experiences with their customer service and delivery have really ruined a great product for me. So, while I find it useful and stylish, I think this will be my last year investing the $60 in this planner. It has served as a way for me to do a bit of goal setting, planning, calendar keeping, and memory keeping. But I am looking at other options for 2022. I’ll post about those later. The Life Planner is great because of the customization. There are different layouts to choose from and custom covers that are personalized. I have a number of these and I admit that I will be sad when I’m not using them anymore. Space for reflection and goals was a plus for this year’s edition. But that $60 price point is a little steep in my opinion.

As a daily planner, I’ve been using the Daily Passion Planner. I have to say that I think this is a great option for someone who likes the BUJO but needs something that already has a structure to embellish if they’re up to it. The compact sizing is great for on the go in a purse or backpack but also gives ample writing space by putting a great layout for schedule, goals, tracking space for mood and emerging ideas, and still giving the opposite page in a dot grid for journaling or lists as you need them. I feel like this will end up being a go-to for me. It has a yearly and monthly calendar along with a prompted check-in and goal worksheet. While it hasn’t replaced my usual journal, I do feel like this gives me a more focused idea of where my time goes and thoughts on various projects and ideas for changes based on how the days go. The only drawback I’ve found is that the book is designed to last 3 months, not a full year. However, they offer a buying discount if you get more than 3 at a time. So, that helps. Plus Passion Planner in general has free printable downloads so you can try the format first. They also give a planner away for every one that is sold. So, it’s a win-win in my opinion. I know plenty of start-ups, artists, and students who can use that help. Monochrome makes it easy to print off a version of your own if purchase isn’t an options. You can find them here at Passion Planner. They do have a larger format Annual version that may become a go-to for me in replacement for the Erin Condren product though. Definitely check them out.

I admit that, being new to the iPad, I’m not familiar with digital planners and I’m open to options if you have suggestions for me to try. Given some of the changes in plan for me, I might find them useful. So, I’d love suggestions for those that you use and love. I’m juggling multiple goals this year including writing new books, writing the blog, and a full-time course load with school. So it is important for me to keep myself on track. What planning methods do you use to keep yourself accountable and on track for your own goals?

Posted in My Process, The Writer's Life

How the heck do you form new habits anyway?

So, I admit that 2017 has been a lack-luster year in terms of productivity. I’ve been dealing with ongoing health issues that left me with little to no energy beyond doing the bare minimum required of me. My motivation went out the window too often in favor of just vegging out with Pip and watching t.v. while working on an embroidery project. To my credit, however, I did spend a tremendous amount of time working on cakes and cookies with mom. I suppose I can’t call it a total waste. Can I?

The final two months of the year, I’m trying to make up for lost time. As much as I love decorating cakes and cookies and working with my mom. My writing has always been my “thing”. And I’ve just let it sit for too long.

Happy to say that I’m at the halfway point of my 50K for NanoWrimo. Which means that I am ever closer to the finish of the first draft of the next Slauson Cove book.

Readers Rejoice!

Seriously loving the plot for this one. In fact, I think I may like it better than I did The Secret of the Storm. Which is saying something really. You always love your first “book baby”. But you also grow as a writer and I think your tastes grow with you. So, I think this is turning into a good one for you. I hope that you’ll enjoy it as much as I’m enjoying writing it.

I digressed there didn’t I? We can just chalk that right up to being scatterbrained with NanoWrimo going on.

I know I need to create better habits with my time management. I don’t really have a lot of free time to work with when it comes to writing and working on my various creative endeavors. So I need to really focus on planning and structuring my day to make the most of what I do have.

Now, I’m a bit of a planning addict anyway. I’ve used Bullet Journaling. I’ve had the Erin Condren Life planner. I bought two of those actually. And I’ve tried various systems in the past. I suppose I need to work out which one is the best for me to use. Maybe some of my readers will have suggestions for what planners have worked well for them trying to create new habits. If you do I welcome the comments and suggestions. I know that the key is to do it and repeat but, getting used to that process is often a big challenge.

For me I want to create a more balanced and successful life. That means working hard and playing hard. It also includes making an effort to be more health conscious. So, I need something that will help me combine all of those things in one place.

What are your tips and tricks?