Monday, June 13, 2011

What Next...?

          Now that I've completed my graduate program ~ though I won't find out I actually passed my exams and graduate for a few weeks ~ I've been working on a schedule for myself.  When I have a deadline for something, I tend to work more efficiently so I thought a schedule would help since now all of my time is my OWN, with school over.
        Even though there have been changes to Examiner, I want to continue writing for them but I find that it is one of the hardest places for me to be motivated to write for when the income is relatively low.  I set up my schedule to include Examiner writing on Sunday for 90 minutes, plus an hour a day Monday through Thursday after lunch. I imagine that, if I create a list of article topics in advance, this should allow me to maintain a minimum of two articles per week per Examiner position (I have four).

       Demand Studios is my favorite place to write because it's where I make the bulk of my income (naturally my favorite haha).  I recognize, however, that I don't want to rush my articles for them, nor do I want to sacrifice Demand time to write for other less-economical sites, so I have created my schedule to write Demand articles six days per week for about four hours each day - Monday through Saturday from about 8am to noon.  After writing for Demand I break for lunch then work on Examiner articles Monday - Thursday for an hour.

       Web design is a sort of passion now, for me.  I had to learn to do it and I've grown to love it.  But it's TIME CONSUMING and once I start, I rarely get anything else done haha.  So, since I want web design to be on my schedule I've limited myself to Friday afternoons and Sunday mornings.  So Sundays I'll write Examiner articles for 60-90 minutes then do web design for a bit; Fridays I'll write for Demand till noon, have lunch, then do web design till dinner.  Works out neatly, for me.

Now for the BIG stuff....

       My Novel!  I may have mentioned here before, but now that I'm done with school (at least for now) I'm going to write a novel.  I've had ideas for a long time, and I've wanted to write a novel since I won a Young Author's Award in the 2nd Grade for my story "Sparky the Fire Dog" (stop laughing, it rocked!).
      Since I work for myself, my time is my own and I'm scheduling in a couple of hours a few days a week for my novel only :-)  I noticed something, though.  When I work (freelance writing), I do all my research and writing at my desk and my mind goes into "work mode" when I sit down.  I don't want to write my novel at my desk because I feel like my creativity is shut off and I focus too much on content, standard writing styles (for the websites I write for) and factual information - not really the best for creative fiction.

       So I've been working on a writing space ~ sort of like a fort in my living room except I'm not using sofa cushions.  I'm turning one corner of my living room into a faux cafe with a bistro table where I can write in my "cafe" instead.  It sort of changes the feel for me (and my creative mind) so.... we'll see how that works out!  I'll post pictures once I finish :-)
       I won't be posting information about the novel details, simply because I feel that would be counterproductive for myself.  I will, however, offer a select few the opportunity to read and critique it once finished - so far my baby sister and 2 or 3 friends have volunteered.  I have decided I will NOT self-publish.... I'd rather never publish than self-publish.  But I will work hard to find representation and have my novel published and hope that leads to the opportunity for more fiction writing because it is a true passion of mine.  Assuming I succeed, I'll be holding contests on my websites for signed copies and other cool prizes :-)

      My other big thing is my podcast.  Although I'm a bit off right now because my speech is affected by my braces, I'm working on a podcast which I'll design a new website for.  I'd like to make the podcast short, maybe 10-15 minutes, and eventually do a new one daily.  I'll be organizing myself during the podcast to maximize my own productivity and boost my own motivation for the day and offering tips, suggestions, and other tools to help others become more efficient as well.  I used to struggle a LOT with efficiency - so I'm eager to help others learn what I have.  I'll record my podcasts from my "cafe" as well :-)

      If the morning podcast works out I may add a shorter afternoon one every now and again, 3-5 minutes, sort of like a "second wind" podcast to push through the rest of the day.  So - watch for news on that as well!

A Preemptive Congratulations...

         I took my Comprehensive Exams (for graduation) the week of May 31st. Ironically, that was the same week I had to go to North Carolina for my sister-in-law's wedding and because of the holiday (Memorial Day) I didn't have access to my exam until Tuesday.... so it was a bit of a stressful week!
         Most of the exam I completed before we left for North Carolina, but I had to finish it in the hotel there. If I'd been home the whole week I would have been finished in 2 to 3 days but instead I took the whole week for the exam. Oh well!  At least it's done :-)
       Now I just wait.... and wait.... and wait a bit more until they read and grade the exams.  Mine was 54 pages when I submitted it.  Apparently, only about 30% of the students pass immediately, the first try with the exam.  Another 40% or so pass with revision.  I've had mostly A's throughout the program, however, and I do write for a living so I'd like to think I'll be in that 30% and pass the first time.
       My husband got me a "preemptive congratulations" cake to celebrate.  (hmmm, the picture didn't load as big as I thought... it says, "A Preemptive Congratulations" in the middle).
       Basically just celebrating that I completed the exam haha.  He said, "I can't imagine having to write 54 pages.... I'd fail that."  Honestly, it wasn't like I aimed for 54 pages though.  During a review session one of the instructors said the average length is 30 to 50 pages so I figured I'd set up my word document to respond to every part of the exam questions (in essay form, mostly) and if it passed 30 pages I was good.  I tried not to fluff it up with useless content too, so those 54 pages are about the bare minimum for what I needed to respond to the questions.
       All in all, I do feel a great sense of accomplishment.  Granted, half-way through the program I realized Forensic Psychology is not what I thought it was, but I had already committed to the program (and the student loans!) so I finished it.  After all, a Masters Degree is still a Masters Degree and shouldn't be knocked just because I was slightly disappointed in the topic.
       I'm so glad to be back home though!  I need my routine so I function optimally - geez! I sound like a piece of equipment haha.  What I mean is, I have a routine and that allows me to reach maximum productivity when not interrupted.  That's partly why I complain a lot during the week if I have to run a lot of errands or go to a lot of appointments.... I don't complain "here" but I complain haha.
       When I'm uninterrupted, however, I am extremely efficient in my work and that allows me plenty of time for things like reviewing my Japanese, working on my websites, and simply relaxing with a book for FUN for a change.