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Procrastiwork: It's a thing

Goodbye, 2017. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out

It’s that time of year again when the rush of catch-ups with family and friends causes a flurry of to-do lists (or maybe that’s just me?) that make you realise exactly how much needs doing before that arbitrary end-of-year deadline clicks over. Or before school ends for the year (in 45 minutes! Eeek!).

I’m a list queen. If it’s not on my wall calendar, in my phone calendar – or both – or otherwise written down somewhere, I’ll forget it. I started a goals list a few years back to try and make myself more accountable – and it’s worked, to a point.

That point being early this year when our lives flipped out of nowhere. I wrote goals on my wall more than a year ago regarding three manuscript deadlines and have only completed one. The dates for the others have come back around and still look undoable.

I’ve become an expert procrastiworker – someone who delays what they should be doing by completing other tasks that look like, and may in fact be, work. For example, not writing a huge amount because of all the work involved around writing.

Don’t get me wrong – procrastiworking can be a positive thing. On top of my role as Local Mentor for the Central Highlands Write-ability writing group (which finished last week – miss you guys already!) for Writers Victoria, I’m now working on the program part-time as Project Assistant. I’ve picked up a lot of freelance work and have applied for an Australia Council grant, which was great experience even if I don’t get it. I’ve also been pitching MS#1 to agents and have had a few requests for fulls.

My #8WordStory up in lights in Brisbane! "The lift shuddered and stalled, alarm button broken."
The Great McFuzz's #8WordStory.  More lights for longer. And he won't let me forget it! "The grumpy gnome really wanted the fancy underpants."

Following my last blog about mini-comps, one of my stories was selected to appear on a billboard in Brisbane for a day. After all the jokes about my biggest publication effort ever had died down, the youngster – who now goes by the pen name Jeffrey McFuzz Fairhill – went one better. His #8WordStory went up for a week in peak hour. Out of and incredible 10,000 entries we were both among the 300 or so that made it to the big screen. And The Great McFuzz’s is also listed on the website as one that kids love! That’s a great strike rate for the Fairhill clan.

Working in Melbourne has meant I have dedicated time to read on the train. Unfortunately this has been almost my only time to read and my TBR pile is still growing. I’ve also fallen behind in reading friends’ MSs (sorry, guys. I couldn’t turn down the paid work) which made me realise I’ve overcommitted. Especially when the writing time has been minimal.

So here it is – the annual updated and largely unchanged list of goals: how they went, and where to from here.

Working from home

When the options are two hours writing or two hours cutting grass before fire season – there is no choice. The addition of two dogs to the family, who were until recently sleeping in and subsequently destroyed the laundry, curbed my ability to sneak up to my study early in the morning. Also see procrastiworking above.

New goal: Get up at 4.30am a minimum of three times a week to write.

Read more

Enough said. One day this will happen.

New goal: Four books by the end of January

Finish YA novel

MS#1 done, MS#2 still in a state of flux, MS#3 banging on my brain trying to come out. I’m going to try something new and PLOT this one. Hopefully it’ll help with the time issues.

New goal: Rewrite MS#2 by end of June. Plot MS#3 by end of February (and seek feedback before writing).

Work on MG series

Absolutely totally completely have not touched this.

New goal: Backburnered. Reassess midyear.

Submit! Submit! Submit!

I set a personal goal to submit three times per month – including pitches, queries, submissions, competitions. On average the figure was way higher – closer to 8 per month.

New goal: Submit 5 times per month – every month.

Build on pitching/synopsis skills

I *think* I’m there given there’s been a few full MS requests. But there’s always room for improvement.

Do more exercise

From December 2016:

“[I’m] booked in for an ultrasound on my still-buggered ankle this arvo. Fingers crossed it’s not the ‘you’ve torn the tendon and need to stay off it for weeks’ diagnosis, or whatever scary Latin term the doc used for that was.”

After the ultrasound, several weeks on crutches and an MRI I’ve been diagnosed with tendinosis, which is like tendonitis ‘but at a cellular level’. So I’m seeing three specialists in an effort to avoid surgery. All are at least 30 minutes away and I have two or more appointments a week. It’s been a major time suck – bit the upshot is my ankle’s the most stable it’s been in more than a year, I can walk more than 20 metres without rolling it, and I now know the medical terms for the tendons in the foot and ankle. I'll just keep on doing what I'm doing.

This blog

This year has been scrappy at best. But there is a reason – our internet has been appalling. I had to change my day at work because the internet couldn’t handle two of us working from home on the same day. The speed continued to fall, the provider continued to tell us nothing was wrong. The NBN recently became available in our area and a week ago we ditched the telco that starts with T and rhymes with Hellstra and went with another one.

So what – I could still blog, right? Opening pages, copying links and uploading images meant the last post took four hours to write and two hours to upload. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

New goal: Fortnightly blog posts.

So that’s it. This is my plan for next year:

  • Get up at 4.30am a minimum of three times a week to write

  • Read four books by the end of January

  • Rewrite MS#2 by end of June

  • Plot MS#3 by end of February (and seek feedback before writing).

  • Reassess plans for MG series mid-year

  • Submit 5 times per month – every month

  • Fortnightly blog posts

After a mammoth 2016, this year has sucked big time. And not just for my family – several friends have gone through – and still are going through – life-changing events. I’m thinking of you and can’t wait for 2018 to lift you up. To all our family, friends and colleagues who supported us through this year – I can’t thank you enough. Have a safe and happy holiday season, and I’ll see you (fortnightly!) in the new year.

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