Posted by: devonellington | February 8, 2016

Staying Excited About the Work

One of the hardest tasks early career writers have is finishing what they start.

You have to finish, for several reasons.

If it’s not finished, it can’t be edited or submitted or go out and earn its keep.

If it’s not finished, it drains creative energy from the other projects you’re juggling.

Every project you write will hit some sort of bump in the road – whether it’s a wrong track for a few pages or an absolute wall. If you expect to succeed, you have to learn how to work around blocks and continue.

Sometimes, it means moving to a different project for awhile. If you do so, set a definite date and/or time to go back to the original project and DO IT.

Sometimes, taking a walk or a shower (I get many of my best breakthroughs in the shower).

Other times, it’s interacting with other writers. Whether it’s in a writing group, or a critique partner, or in a workshop/retreat/conference, tossing around ideas with other writers is a great way to figure out how to get past “stuck.”

Maybe they faced the same obstacles, and their experiences will help you. Or maybe just a fresh perspective will give you the jump start you need.

This doesn’t just pertain to writers – artists, actors, business people – whatever it is you’re working on, finding people who understand what you’re trying to do and have your best interests at heart will help you succeed.

It takes time and experience to find people, and some of them will move in and out of your life.

But finding them, and having a healthy give-and-take (which means you help them when they need it, not expecting everything to be one way), will keep you excited about your work and bring it to a new level.

Posted by: devonellington | February 1, 2016

February To Do List

February is a short month, and the to-do list, while intense, is also reasonably short:

February 2016 To Do List

3 – 5 pitches/submissions
Complete first draft of DEATH OF A CHOLERIC
Keep on track with first draft of TIE CUTTER
Work on full-length CONFIDENCE CONFIDANT
Finish adapting one-act CONFIDENCE CONFIDANT to BBC and US radio formats
Continue with cycle of short stories
Begin short story due April 30
Start play set in 17th Century Italy
Convert “Broken Links” to BBC format
Prepare for March WNO speaking engagement
Continue sorting boxes/purging

Posted by: devonellington | January 31, 2016

Jan. 31, 2016: January Wrap-Up

It was a pretty darned good month, creatively, and I’m happy with what I got done. In spite of a few disappointments, the overall mood was creative and upbeat, which is a solid way to start the year.

January 2016 Wrap-Up

Completed:
“Light Behind the Eyes” adapted from BBC to US format
5 pitches/submissions
Evening yoga practice integrated
“Broken Links”, the short radio play, completed and submitted

In Process:
Work a little behind for DEATH OF A CHOLERIC
Work on track for TIE-CUTTER
Expansion into full-length begun for “Confidence Confidant”
Cycle of short stories — a little behind on that
Boxes/purging

Dropped/Moved:
BALTHAZAAAR TREASURE off the schedule temporarily, due to Amber Quill shutting its doors
Tango on hold for now

Added:
Adapt “Confidence Confidant” into radio format (both BBC and US) — in process
Three new novels outlined (writer’s rough)
LAUGHTER RETURNED begun
Research begun on 17th Century Italy
Research begun on 19th Century Berkshires
Research begun on 19th Century Florence

Disappointments:
Amber Quill shutting its doors
Having to let go of Tango, at least for the moment

Successes:
Both ideas for new plays accepted by 365 Women

Posted by: devonellington | January 25, 2016

When Opportunity Knocks

When Opportunity Knocks — Answer!

It happens time and time again — at conventions, networking nights, general party conversation. Someone moans about the lack of opportunities. I give them a list of resources. The response? “I don’t have time.”

Going back to what I talked about earlier this month, if you “don’t have time”, it means you don’t want it enough. So stop moaning and move on. Let go of it and decide what you DO want, what you ARE passionate about.

Part of our JOB as working artists (or working professionals in any field) is to constantly hunt for possibilities to stretch and grow. If we wait around for people to find us, we’ll be sitting by the side of the road while others build viable careers. If we get out there and are active, we have a chance to do something. To build something.

For example: You’re a writer. Search out calls for submission. You find a short story deadline that’s next week? Look through your unpublished work. Is there something that fits the guidelines that needs a polish, or a bit of reworking? Do it. You don’t have something in hand, but the opportunity intrigues you? Sit down and write it. Is there a mixed media call — a mixture of visual and word? But you say you’re a writer? You have a point of view, don’t you? Create a piece. So what if it’s new to you. It’s an opportunity to grow and challenge yourself. So what if you’re “tired”? Get up earlier. Go to bed later. Get it done.

Each person who answers a call for submission starts out with a 50-50 chance. The answer will either be “yes” or it will be “no”.

You can tilt the scales in favor of a “yes” in your direction by following submission guidelines EXACTLY and by honing your craft. If you know spelling and grammar aren’t your strong point, saying, “Well, I never really learned it in school” is not appropriate. Enroll in an online or a continuing education course and LEARN IT.

You don’t have time? You’re going to keep getting rejected, and people are going to keep telling you your writing sucks. After the first time, you don’t get a pass. You’ve now refused to grow. To learn. To HONE YOUR CRAFT. Unless you’re completely brilliant (and few are), submission readers can’t get to the story if you can’t be bothered to learn the craft. They also don’t have time to coddle you, because there are at least ten thousand writers lined up behind you who are just as talented who BOTHERED to spend time learning their craft. That goes beyond writing and can be applied to whatever you want to do.

How do short stories help a novelist? Everyone knows the short story market is dead! Not exactly true. It’s much harder to make a living just writing short stories, the way authors did in the first part of the twentieth century. But the market’s not dead. Not only is it good to learn how to tell a compelling story in a concise format (which is what a short story requires), but short stories are shared. They are little bites that can entice a reader to hunt down a writer’s longer works. That’s why I love anthologies so much. An anthology introduces me to new-to-me writers; then I hunt down their other work, and now I’m a regular reader. As a writer, a short story is also a good way to test drive new characters or a premise. If the story is too big to fit the format, well, then, I start the research and outline process to see if there’s enough for a novel. If I discover that when I’m on a deadline, I put the story that “won’t fit” aside, and create a new one that fits the format. Or, I pare down unnecessary elements so the piece fits the format. Because if the guidelines say 1500 words and I submit 2000 or 3500 or 5000, it won’t even get read. Nor should it.

Whatever your profession, if you hate your job, get out there and look for a new one. Talented people get hired. Sometimes it takes time. It can take months rather than weeks. What skills do you have? What do you love to do? What skills need work? Work on those. Go to networking events. Check job boards that carry jobs that interest you.

Obviously, if someone tries to get you to “edit” a book length manuscript for $5, you say no. But what if someone asks you to work for free?

Ask yourself if it’s worth it. If you’re trying to change careers and the volunteer opportunity is in the field you’re trying to move into, it makes sense to spend some volunteer hours getting a foothold into that community. Can you work a few volunteer hours a week around your current job? Will you meet people and gain experiences you can put on your resume that will help you in future job searches? WHY does this organization want volunteers? If they can afford to pay people and are being cheap, walk away. If they are a small nonprofit with a mission in alignment with your passions, give them a few months and see what happens.

Don’t expect other people to do your work for you. A published author you just met at a book signing is not obligated to read your manuscript and walk you into his agent’s office. NO ONE is obliged to share their contact list. Contact lists are built op over years of work. Why should someone just hand you what’s taken them years to develop? Especially when all you offer in return is a misplaced sense of entitlement.

Do your research. Learn your craft — whatever that craft is. If you want to act, take class. Read plays. Go to auditions. Watch plays. Work your way up from community theatre into professional gigs. Read the trades. Every profession has trade journals. If you can’t afford a subscription, see if you can find it online.

Many libraries, even if they don’t subscribe to a particular publication, are part of a network of libraries and have access to data bases and publications online as part of that network. MAKE the time to find out what’s lacking in your education and then MAKE the time to fill in the gaps.

Your family is not an excuse. To say, “well, you know, my family . . . ” is a slap in the face to them. Get them involved and excited in what you want to do. Chances are, your kids are more internet savvy than you are. Have them help you look for classes and publications and information. Make them part of the process instead of excluding them. Let them share in why you love whatever it is you love.

If you don’t like where your life is right now, change it. The ONLY one who stops you from making positive change is YOU.

Stop whining.

Start doing.

When opportunity knocks, answer.

Step through that door.

Posted by: devonellington | January 18, 2016

Holidays are Necessary

In the spirit of trying for more balance in life and work, I suggest honoring the Martin Luther King Day holiday.

Will I write today?

Of course.

But I will also do other things that are not work-related, and that refill the creative well.

Enjoy!

Posted by: devonellington | January 15, 2016

January Mid-Month Check In

I don’t know about you, but it’s already been a whirlwind for me, and the year’s just started.

The big news is that my wonderful publisher, Amber Quill Press, has decided to close its doors as of March 30. If you don’t have the short pieces — LAKE JUSTICE, SEVERANCE, ELUSIVE PRAYERS, or the collection KILLER QUINTET, or the first Gwen Finnegan mystery, TRACKING MEDUSA — hop on over to Amber Quill or to Amazon and grab your copies.

I’m in conference with my advisors as how to best move forward — do we try to move to another publishing house? Do we issue the books independently? Whatever happens, once the doors close and I get the rights back, there will be a break before it happens.

That meant revising my year-long writing plan. I had three books scheduled to go to them this year, all Gwen Finnegan books. I’ve been struggling with BALTHAZAAR TREASURE for months — now the pressure is off, and I can figure out what’s wrong with it and fix it.

But those three books are off the official schedule.

It means I can move up two books that had been further down on the schedule. Instead of slotting them in late in the year, I can bump them up, diving back into them as soon as DEATH OF A CHOLERIC and TIE-CUTTER are finished.

Instead of a year of publication, this will be a year of polish and submission, which is good. These books take me in a different direction and force me to grow in interesting ways. I’m excited about that.

There’s always a worry about having material go out of print. But I just have to trust that it will all work out.

That means knocking BALTHAZAAR off my to-do list, at least for the moment. I’m no longer under deadline pressure. I can put it away for awhile, then return to it with fresh eyes, and hopefully fix what wasn’t working in it.

I also let go of the tango lessons. Yes, I enjoy it; however, with everything else going on, it felt like more “obligation pressure” instead of something joyful. It was making me tense. So, for the moment, I’ve let go of it, and hope to get back to it in the future.

I’m restructuring my writing schedule for the year. I’m excited, because it gives me a chance to focus on the new directions I started to explore.

I’m halfway through the short radio play, and on track for that. I’m still working on TIE CUTTER and DEATH OF A CHOLERIC, and on track for that.

I adapted “Light Behind the Eyes” from the BBC version to the US version, so it can be registered and go out this week. I’m getting ready to adapt “Confidence Confidant” into radio format.

I need to get back on track on the series of short stories. I’ve started to work on the reformatting of one radio play, and expanding the one act into a full-length. I also have someone interested in the one-act adapted into a radio play. So, I’m on track there.

The evening yoga practice is going well, but I’m behind in unpacking/purging the boxes!

I got out two pitches. One was for two play ideas, both of which have been accepted. One is due on June 1 and one on November 1. They are now in the writing schedule (now that there’s room) and research for the first one started this week.

The second pitch was an opportunity I came across via Twitter. I sent the pitch. It was acknowledged and made the first cut, so we’ll see where we go from there. Fingers crossed.

I made one submission. I won’t hear back on that for at least four months.

But, overall, although it’s a rockier start to 2016 than I’d like, it’s a good one!

Posted by: devonellington | January 11, 2016

The Difference Between Giving Up & Letting Go

The Difference Between Giving Up and Letting Go

One of the challenging aspects of making New Year’s Resolutions is keeping them. We discussed this a bit last week — don’t make resolutions that don’t matter to you. Just because it’s the trend or “what people do” doesn’t mean that particular resolution is the right one for you.

A resolution needs to be relevant to your life, particularly to improving your life, in a way that MATTERS to you. There’s nothing wrong with the fact that finishing your book means more to you than losing thirty pounds. If the book is more important than the weight loss, focus on the book. You may discover that you like to walk while you’re working out scenes for the book, and then the book will help you reach the weight loss goal, even though the focus is on the book. When you put the important piece in place, the other parts will start finding where they fit, and it helps everything.

If you set a goal that doesn’t really matter to you, you won’t make the time or the effort to achieve it, and then, for yet another year, you will feel like a failure. That will put you off making resolutions in the future, or setting achievable goals, and keep you spinning in a cycle of self-sabotage.

If you’ve had trouble keeping resolutions in the past, pick ONE thing that MATTERS to you. Focus on taking steps to achieve it. You might not hit the NYT best-seller list, (something you can’t control) but there’s no reason you can’t finish a the first draft of your first novel in a year’s time (something you can control)– if it MATTERS to you.

If you want to feel better, and you’ve decided yoga is the way to do it, try to find a class near you. Once a week is enough to start. Add in a few minutes a day for a home practice — even ten minutes a day makes a difference, as long as you are consistent. There are some wonderful yoga videos out there, for every level. Find something that works for you — once you learn the sequence, you don’t need to follow along with the video. If the weather’s nice enough, do it outside. As you enjoy it more and feel more comfortable, you will find that you naturally grow the practice, and it starts positively feeding on itself.

Whatever you do, remember that missing a day here and there is not a problem. It’s even better if you DECIDE that certain days are “vacation days” from your goal. That’s healthy. It only becomes a problem when you “don’t get around to it” for multiple days in a row and have to start from scratch. Don’t give up. Readjust.

Or let go.

What’s the difference?

Sometimes, you’ll make a resolution and be gung-ho about it. But it gets harder and harder to keep up, and there’s more and more resistance every time you try to take a step to turn it into reality. You’re making the time, but it doesn’t feel right.

Ask yourself why. Was it really someone else’s idea of what is good for you and not yours? Or has something changed in the doing that’s given you a fresh perspective?

Our lives (hopefully) grow and change every day. We use markers such as seasons and year-ends/starts to note the big things, but there are incremental changes every day. And sometimes, unexpected big changes come at us that force us to reassess: job change, moving, illness, or, even better, an unexpected opportunity we want to grab.

It’s healthy to recognize that something no longer fits your goals or your life. It’s fine to realize that, six months ago, this particular goal or resolution made perfect sense, and you worked at it, but now that you’ve progressed, you’re at a different fork in the road and want to do something different. A conscious choice is different than letting it fall by the wayside.

“I can’t be bothered” or “I don’t have time” indicates a myriad of issues and possibilities that require self-reflection; “This no longer serves me, so I’m taking this other opportunity instead” is far more positive.

Of course, there’s a catch — if every time an opportunity comes up, you drop whatever you’re doing to follow something new and shiny, you wind up sabotaging yourself, too. As with everything, moderation and self-honesty is key. WHY are you giving something up? WHY does this other choice seem better in this moment? What are the long-term possibilities with each?

MAKING something happen, through considered choices serves you better than being passive and not bothering or giving up. Being passive is not “going with the flow”, it’s being passive. Recognize the differences so that you can make the best decisions and trust your gut. Your instincts know what you should be doing, and what you really want. Think things through, and learn how to discern what is your gut instinct and what is your ego. The ego can be distracted; the gut will lead you true.

Devon

Posted by: devonellington | January 4, 2016

Why New Year’s Resolutions are Important

How often, at the New Year, are you around people who make excuses for not making New Year’s Resolutions or deride those who make them.

The biggest whine is, “why would I set myself up to fail?”

That’s not the real question. The real question is “Why are you giving up so easily?” and “Why do you set resolutions you don’t care enough about to see through?”

I believe New Year’s Resolutions are important. Yes, every day is a fresh slate, a chance to start over and be better. The turn of the New Year is a more ritualized way of doing it.

I don’t agree with those pseudo-professionals people pay to make them feel better who say, “Lower the bar when you make resolutions.”

Uh, no.

Part of a growing, evolving human being is to keep striving. We need to keep trying new things, and, each day, we need to set an intention to be more ourselves than the day before.

When you apply this to New Year’s Resolutions, you wind up with a positive.

When you make your resolutions, the first thing you need to do is to look back on the previous year, and decide what worked and what didn’t. We do this as part of the Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions every year.

The next part is to honestly dissect both of those lists and find out WHY something did or did not work.

“I didn’t have time to x, y, z” is nothing more than a cop-out. There never IS time. We all have the same twenty four hours in every day. It’s how we choose to use them that differentiates us. If you “didn’t have time” to do something, it means that it wasn’t important enough for you to MAKE the time for it. You need to know the WHY behind it.

If you keep making resolutions to do things you don’t care about, things you feel you SHOULD do, rather than things that have personal meaning, yes, you will fail. Or, if you force yourself to do them anyway, you wind up with a martyr complex and a lot of rage. Neither one of those is healthy.

When you set resolutions, first you have to ask yourself what is GENUINELY important to you. Not what fits the agendas of those around you, or what the overpaid “experts” tell you is the year’s hot trend. (I often call them “conperts” because, in my view, they are con artists trying to get people to do things that will net the so-called “expert” more cash instead of actually helping the people listening).

What matters to YOU?

That’s your first building block.

Then, you have to decide how much it matters to you in the context of what you HAVE to do in order to keep a roof over your head and food on the table, and what you WANT to do in other aspects of your life.

What can you eliminate? What won’t you miss? What can take a back burner for awhile, so you MAKE the time to dedicate to this resolution? That’s how you succeed in keeping a resolution.

If your resolution is “lose weight”, but you aren’t willing to exercise more and/or change your eating habits, you’re not going to get there. You can’t just say the words. The words are the first step – putting it out there. You have to take ACTION to MAKE it happen.

And you have to do it without making excuses when you CHOOSE to fail.

That’s why I like to split things down into:

GOALS – tangible actions with deadlines that get me further down the path;

DREAMS – fantasies about the future I plan to build, with an action plan to turn them into reality;

RESOLUTIONS – bigger, more life-changing commitments that build on the goals and work toward the dreams.

We all tend to overbook, take on too much, get overwhelmed, and then stop trying to do anything. As we work on our goals, dreams, and resolutions, we also have to realize that we might have to change or drop some of them along the way, when they no longer serve us.

That’s a post for another day!

It’s important to set your personal bar higher on a regular basis, so you can create a life that’s good for yourself, and whose result is a ripple effect positively for those around you. If we each create positive, affirmative, productive lives for ourselves, those ripples will overlap, and we can change the world into a better place.

Happy New Year!

Devon

Posted by: devonellington | January 3, 2016

January 2016 To-Do List

January 2016 To-Do List

I’m keeping it short and rather vague on purpose. I don’t use daily “To Do” lists. They don’t work for me. I find them constraining. But there are certain things I have to hit in order to achieve my deadlines and goals. I also have to remember to be flexible as new opportunities arise.

So, here’s the list for January:

Finish THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE
Write 15 minute radio script and submit
Continue work on DEATH OF A CHOLERIC
Continue work on TIE-CUTTER
Finish cycle of short stories
Start expansion of “Confidence Confidant” into a full-length
Adapt BEHIND THE EYES radio play from BBC Format to American format
Tango lessons
3-5 pitches and/or submissions
Unpack/sort/purge minimum 12 boxes
Add regular evening yoga practice

Posted by: devonellington | January 2, 2016

Answers to 2016 GDR Questions

Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions Questions for 2016

Here are some things to think about, as you look ahead to the coming year. I will post my answers on the second of January, 2016. There may be details related to various questions that are too personal to post publicly; that’s fine. You’re not required or expected to violate your own privacy, or anyone else’s. Write as completely and honestly for yourself as you can, and only post anything that is comfortable for you to share.

Take a look back at the last year, and give yourself an honest assessment. Remember to be kind to yourself. Did you achieve what you hoped to achieve? Where did you fall short of your own expectations, and why? Where did you exceed them? What unexpected events changed your direction? What did you choose to give up because it no longer fit your goals, dreams, resolutions, and life?

–2015 was a challenging year. There was too much loss. I felt that I did nothing but attend funerals from August until the end of the year. My lovely little cat, Violet, also died. I was in a dysfunctional and unhappy situation that I was unable to change, although I tried, on many occasions, using tactics to either cope or live with it. None of them worked, so a different strategy is required for this year. I didn’t write enough, and much of it wasn’t up to par. Towards the middle of the year, I even wondered if I should stop writing.

Fortunately, the writers’ conference and the supportive group in my workshop encouraged me to try new things and stretch in new directions. Between Carole Bugge and Claire Cook, I got fresh inspirations to get me back on track. The second part of the year, in spite of the losses, was much more productively creative, in spite of obstacles by a few choice individuals who regularly tried to destroy said creativity and ‘bring me to heel’.

The time at Kripalu was also important — it gave me tools to pace and plan and cope with certain things that are going to continue to be difficult until they can be removed.

Nano was a surprising positive. I did a “tandem Nano”, working on two novels simultaneously — TIE-CUTTER and DEATH OF A CHOLERIC. Writing in company was more fun than I expected, and I hit 60K over the two of them during the month. Both of them are books I intend to continue, and hopefully use to get a new agent.

KILLER QUINTET was released in February. I wrote a radio drama that I really liked. I wrote/polished a couple of television scripts (both one hour and half hour) and polished a screenplay that’s now solid. I wrote a play as part of the “365 Women” project.

I I wrote several outlines, started knocking out a set of interlocked short stories at the end of the year, and did the first few chapters in the writing workshop of a new book that is something completely different and exciting.

I won a writers’ retreat stay in Vermont, that I will inhabit at the end of January 2016. I started learning Argentine Tango, which is both fun and creatively stimulating.

Looking back, the year wasn’t as much of a creative wasteland as it often felt, but outside pressures and sabotage often blurred my vision in the moment.

Do you feel you are on the right path? If so, what do you want to build on from this year to make next year even better? If not, what do you want to change? How do you intend to change those things?

–I’m getting back to the right path. I’m getting better at fighting — not always overtly — those who try to pull me off my path. I want to build on the foundation the time at Kripalu gave me, because I believe if I do that, I can achieve what I need for myself without causing harm. There are those involved who enjoy causing harm and would love me to lash back, to give them reason to escale the emotional violence. I’ve started the steps for change, but it is impolitic to post them publicly.

Take a look at the disappointments from this year. Can you find their root cause? Did you get something positive from them, in spite of the disappointments?

–The root cause is obvious to me. What I got is that I will work hard not to put myself in a situation where I can’t immediately remove myself from such a cause again.

Take a look at unexpected events which changed your path. Were the changes positive or negative? Did they send you in a new direction you might not have found otherwise, or where they a distraction?

–The obstacles I look at as negative I intend to, ultimately, turn into a positive, although I’m not sure I can completely control the timeline. The time at the Writers Conference and at Kripalu helped send me on positive new directions and give me fresh energy and optimism.

Do you feel fulfilled creatively, personally, spiritually? What contributes to that? If something is lacking in any of these areas, what actions do you need to take in the coming year?

–Creatively: the first part of the year I did not, to the point of despair. The second part of the year, I started getting back on track, and am getting closer to creative fulfillment.

–Personally: no. I am taking steps to change that, but, again, it would be impolitic to post it publicly.

–Spiritually: up and down. Lots of doubts this year, especially because of all of the loss. Re-assessing a few things.

List three goals for 2016 — concrete things that you wish to achieve. Under each goal, list three specific action steps you can do to achieve each of them.

Goal 1. Meet the writing schedule I set out, yet have flexibility
when unexpected opportunities arise.

A. Don’t get distracted by other people’s agendas
B. Manage time and energy better; don’t let the energy vampires
drain me
C. Recognize the difference between “opportunity” and “ego.”

Goal 2. Can’t be shared publicly yet; just know that I’m in the process
of taking the steps to fulfill it.

Goal 3. Again, up the physical activity, and get back in shape.
A. Deepen the yoga practice
B. Add other physical activities to the roster
C. Recognize steady, but necessary increase increments

List three dreams for 2016 — things you would like to do, but that may not be ready to manifest. List three action steps under each dream that you can start this coming year, on the road to manifestation.

Again, something I am not ready to share publicly. But I’m working on them! When I am in a position to share, I will!

List three resolutions for 2016– definite things you want to change about yourself or your life for the better. Under each one, list three action steps that you can take to start achieving those resolutions. Again, remember to be kind to yourself.

Resolution 1. Excommunicate the toxic, the crazy, the saboteur, and the
energy vampires from my personal universe.
A. It’s tied in to some of the goals and dreams I can’t yet share.
B. Strengthen my personal shields.
C. Refuse to be drawn in to other people’s dysfunction.

Resolution 2. Organize/purge/unpack basement
A. Get the supplies I need in place so I can organize and have
designated bins/areas to sort/purge
B. Create a reasonable schedule and stick to it.
C. Re-Feng-Shui the house. The place’s natural feng shui is
excellent, but the purging/organizing will help.

Resolution 3. Try something new, out of my comfort zone.
A. Be open to new opportunities
B. Lack of energy is not an excuse
C. Realize it’s okay if I try something and decide I don’t
like it.

Take a look back at the last several years, and then look ahead to where you are and where you want to be. Take some time and figure out a one year, three year, and five year plan. Your personal “strategic plan”, so to speak. Part of what I want to do on the retreat in February is finalize that for myself. I hope to have my personal strategic plan done by early to mid February.

Have a wonderful start to the New Year!

Please feel free to share your own goals, dreams, and resolutions below.

Posted by: devonellington | December 31, 2015

2015 Wrap-Up

2015 Wrap – Up

Time to look back on the year, see what was and was not achieved, and look ahead to next year. In 2016, I will also post tips/suggestions to the daily achieving of goals, or ideas to think about, and see if they are useful.

In the 2016 GDR “Answers to Questions”, I look back on the ups and downs of 2015. But let’s look at the specific goals, dreams, and resolutions I listed and see how I did:

Goal 1: Complete drafts of three novels, two plays, one screenplay
A. Stick with the 1K/each morning routine
B. Block in additional writing time on certain days of the week.
C. Finesse the way I move between projects

Assessment: I did not complete the drafts of three novels. I didn’t even manage to finish one, even though KILLER QUINTET was released in February. I had a terrible time, in the first eight months of the year, with any novel-related projects.

On the up side, I realized why I was stuck, and was therefore able to start working in new directions. SONGBOUND SISTERS is on the roster for 2016, and I’m working on two novels very different from what I usually do: THE TIE-CUTTER and DEATH OF A CHOLERIC. They are both scheduled in 2016, from finishing the first draft through revisions and submissions.

I wrote one stage play (“Confidence Confidant” for 365 Women) and one radio drama. Both need some tweaking for additional markets this year, and have to be added in to the roster. I finished and polished one screenplay, two one-hour pilots, and a half hour pilot. I also wrote two short stories in the spring (edited, revised, submitted), and have started a group of linked short stories in the past few days that will spill over into early 2016.

I lost the 1K/day from spring into early summer, but got back on track in August, and it served me well the rest of the year.

I blocked in additional time on certain days of the week, and that helped take the pressure of the days where just getting out the 1K was close to impossible.

I’m getting better at moving between projects, but am still not as skilled as I would like.

2. Enter a screenplay contest
A. Either polish a screenplay I have or polish a new one
B. Research the contests and see which one or ones are best suited to my long-term goals.
C. Prepare the application and paperwork so I can submit it in plenty of time.

Assessment: I entered a contest with the half-hour pilot. It wasn’t the one I originally aimed for (that will happen in 2016), but I got myself out there. I didn’t win, but it was worth the effort. I did the research I needed to set my goals for 2016, and have paperwork in hand.

3. Sewing — I want to get back into sewing
A. Pick a project and see it through.
B. Sort through my projects set aside.
C. See what needs to be finished and what needs to be jettisoned.

Assessment: The sewing projects are sorted and ready to go, but I didn’t do any of them. I did start knitting again, towards the end of the year, kind of stop-and-start, and attend a couple of knitting groups with my mom.

Dreams:

I did not publicly discuss my dreams in this forum. I worked on them, got sidetracked a few times, but I’m back on track for them. I did not achieve what I wished in 2015, but I’m still working.

Resolutions:

1. More physical activity
A. Up the yoga practice
B. More other exercise, such as adding weight training back into the regime
C. Try a form of exercise I haven’t yet tried.

Assessment: I did some of that, but not enough. I upped the yoga practice, especially during the time at Kripalu, where I did three hours of yoga a day and loved it. I did not add weight training back into the regime, which I need to do. I did, however, start Argentine Tango. Something completely different.

2. Recommit to the garden.
A. Organize what I want earlier in the year
B. Stay on top of the yard work
C. Chronicle life in the garden better.

Assessment: I did more with the garden this year, although not as much as I would have liked. I was better organized, more on top of the yard work (although I still didn’t get all the leaves raked before the snow). I bought a wonderful garden journal and took lots of photos, but didn’t keep it up properly.

3. Reorganize
A. Finally unpack all the boxes in the basement and re-organize or purge what’s left.
B. Get my office back to rights
C. Get more bookcases.

Assessment: I didn’t get everything unpacked and purged/re-organized, although I worked on my office and it’s better than it was. The addition of the rolltop desk for longhand work was a big help. I did not get more bookcases yet, mostly because I’m not sure where to put them.

I was very discouraged and thought I’d wasted/blown the whole year, but, in retrospect, it wound up being a more positive year than I expected, even with all the loss. It was certainly better than 2014, even with all the challenges and loss, and I am determined that 2016 will be even better.

Have a wonderful New Year, and see you back on the 2nd to start it together!

Devon

Posted by: devonellington | July 1, 2015

Mid-Year Assessment

GDR Mid-Year Reassessment — July 1, 2015

Before I go into wrapping up June and looking forward to July, it’s time to take some time to reassess the first part of 2015.

Much of it, I can’t do publicly right now. Safe to say, there are a lot of transitions going on. I’d hoped to do them in an orderly fashion, one at a time, sort one thing, move on to the next.

Ha!

Since they feed into each other, it makes sense.

The most important thing to do is remain true to who I am and what I’m supposed to be doing, and to do so that supports the writing. If it doesn’t support the writing, it has to go.

So, looking back over the questions and answers from January:

Looking back at 2014 was discussed at length. Hopefully, I’ve learned from what didn’t work , and will build on that instead of getting stuck in patterns that don’t work.

I’m getting back on track, but I’m not there yet. There are several puzzle pieces that I’m working on, and until I can get them in place, I won’t be fully on the “right” track. The track I’m on WAS right when I first walked it; it is no longer.

As far as fulfillment — I’m working on it more mindfully. On days the writing goes well, I feel wonderful, and able to cope with whatever else comes my way. On days when the writing does not go well, I struggle. When I KNOW what interferes with the writing and can’t shake it off to create a good writing day, I get angry with myself, and that is energy best used elsewhere. I’m working on a wide variety of creative projects, and I’ve cut the time and the amount of editing clients I take on, which makes me much happier. I have a single private student now, and don’t plan to take on any more for a good while, although I will still teach a couple of in-person workshops (not online, not right now — too frustrating).

I’m doing other things I enjoy, just for me, such as tango and yoga and my work with the Marine Life Center.

For goals:
I am determined to have three novels, two plays, and a screenplay drafted this year. I have one novel on contract that will be done soon, and I’m not sure which two of the other WIPS will be done, but three is still realistic. Two plays will definitely be done (in the next few weeks — the contemporary and the historical). I also wrote one radio play so far, and have another on the docket. Screenplay — I have a one hour television pilot on the docket, but, after researching the background for how I thought I wanted to do it, I need to restructure some of it. It’s still possible, but I’m not sure if it will be the pilot, or if I’ll go back to one of the other screenplays I have in outline.

I entered a screenplay contest with a half hour pilot. I didn’t win, but I got some worthwhile feedback. I hope to carve out some time in the late fall and winter to go over what’s on my roster, make appropriate rewrites, and get them all out.

I have not gotten back into sewing, although I need to this month, if I want something to wear to the Mermaid Ball! ;)

The other goals I couldn’t mention publicly — I’m working on them and can’t yet share them.

Same with the dreams, although I’m formulating ways to manifest them. I’m a little behind where I’d like to be on them, but it’s more of a case of they’ll happen (with action) when it’s the right time for them, rather than me forcing them or just sitting around twiddling my thumbs.

With the resolutions, I still don’t have enough physical activity into the mix, although I have deepened the yoga practice. I’m lax about the weight training, and that’s important to add back in. I started tango, which I enjoy, so that’s another form of physical activity.

The garden’s in good shape. I’m photographing it more faithfully this year, but haven’t keep up the written (or blogged) journals as well as I should. I’m more on top of the yard work, but still feel like I’m always behind.

I’m working on the reorganizing. I got the desk of my dreams free on Craigslist a few weeks ago, and having a separate place for longhand and computer work is great. I’m rearranging the office, and then tackling the basement. Don’t have more bookcases yet, but constantly search craigslist and yard sales for the right ones.

The one, three, and five year plans mentioned in January are still relevant. I feel I’m in a much better place now than I was in January. While there’s still a lot up in the air, and many decisions to make in the next few months, I feel more able to cope with them.

I hope your half-year reassessment satisfies you, too. Remember, these plans are living entities, and can change as we grow and change. They are roadmaps, not prisons.

Tomorrow, I’ll wrap up June and set out my list for July!

Devon

Posted by: devonellington | June 3, 2015

June List

June

As you can see, both April and May got away from me, although I got a lot done.

I completed the bulk of the research on the historical play, and I’m just starting it. The opening scene is the most difficult — I don’t want to start with a lot of introduction and exposition, yet, at the same time, I have to make the sting operation clear.

The radio play is out, and I’m making the necessary adjustments for the US version of it. I lost the thread of the next radio play, and am trying to get it back.

I got both short stories in on time for the April 30 deadline. I came across them the other day, as I was putting things away, re-read them, and like them better than I originally did.

I have two more short stories to work on this month, along with the historical play.

I put together a proposal package for another play, an opportunity that just happened to cross my path, and I need to do some more work on that play this month.

I had my first vacation in years, and did the research I needed to do for the one-hour pilot. Now, I have to sit and write it.

I’m playing with an idea for a book, and am writing my way into it, while working on the next Gwen Finnegan book.

I have a lot of work to do for both the Mermaid Ball and the Writers Conference, coming up in August, along with ongoing work for the programs at the library.

I’ve continued with Tango (and use it in the writing, too).

June:
Draft of historical play
Solid work on BALTHAZAAR
Work on contemporary play
Figure out the arc for the one hour pilot
Get back on track with the next radio play
Work on at least one of the short stories.

I’m going to do the halfway point, midyear assessment around the 15th, where I look at where I’ve been this year, where I’m going, and where I WANT to go, and also, what’s changed since January.

I hope you’re having a wonderful month!

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