My Productivity Schedule…and YOU!

In Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic, she explains that ideas are alive and we are merely their hosts. When an artist abandons an idea for too long, the idea moves onto someone else like a virus. Agreeing to work with an idea in order to manifest it? That’s inspiration.

Perhaps it is because I believe this so strongly, and have always believed this — Gilbert just put it in to words I never could – that I like to juggle multiple balls. I love all the ideas that wish to use me as their host, and I fear they may crawl away forever if I abandon them too long. However, I also know that spreading myself thin results in nothing finished.

Hence, this schedule. With targeted focus on my multiple pursuits, I hope that I can finish all of them in reasonable time. Without a schedule, I’m victim to my fickle muse. A month working on this, a month working on that….before you know it, three years have passed and fifteen projects are each about 2% more complete. But nothing is done.


Why share this? Because putting our ambitions out there makes us accountable for them. I’m using this blog as a public venue to “shout from the rooftops”. I previously wanted to keep these secret. I wanted to be vague about it all, because that meant I wasn’t held to anything except for the word “soon.”

I’m tired of soon. I’m ready for now.


LONG TERM VISION: I still believe traditional publishing is the best route for my novels and short stories. I would love to get Paradisa to the querying stage, and to complete the first drafts of The Shadow of Saturn and two other novels. It is also imperative that I publish some short fiction this year and start building a portfolio.

  • The Shadow of Saturn (First Draft): I am writing the first draft of my second original novel, which is a fictionalized memoir of my college internship at NASA. I aim for this book to be 90,000 words, so at 1000 words a day, I should finish by April 30th.
  • Paradisa (Final Edits): As Millie Ho says, this is my Long Suffering Manuscript. Luckily, I have most of my feedback assembled, and aside from a couple new scenes and tweaks, this one is about done. With 3 hours of focused editing every week, I’d like to have this ready for copyeditors by March 31st.
  • Submissions: I don’t have many short stories in my archive, but I have enough in the trunk to submit 12 a month.


LONG TERM VISION: There are two genres where self-publishing excels: nonfiction and romance/erotica. I have a few nonfiction projects planned this year, and The Con Runner’s Handbook is the first.

  • The Con Runner’s Handbook (Outline): My mother has 20 years experience staffing science fiction conventions, and I have quite a few years as well. I hope this handbook will showcase essays from a variety of con runners. It’s a niche market, but it should appeal to anyone interested in starting their own con, or for people who want to empathize with how it’s done. By March 31st, I just want it brainstormed.
  • Kindle Shorts: Equally popular in the ebook sector is 5-10k word erotica. I would love to publish one a week and have 50 in my roster by the end of the year (which is about how many it takes to see if you’re sellable). While I shall not divulge my pennames here, I will keep this blog updated on my sales stats if they become notable. It is VERY difficult to succeed as a writer in this genre, but I will surely learn a lot about Amazon algorithms.





LONG TERM VISION: Sometimes I feel like writing is settling for stories I’d rather tell visually. And the more ambitious my stories get, the more I’m drawn to the digital worlds of animation and motion capture. But film is also expensive, meaning I’ll need to monetize my skills in order to fund passion projects.

  • Aether Motion: My most entrepreneurial pursuit this year is to start a videography and digital editing business. February will be devoted to researching equipment and LLC paperwork, as well as setting up my website and social media accounts. After that comes a demo reel, setting up a bank account, filing paperwork, and buying the equip. I’d love to open my virtual doors on April 1st.
  • Dead Air: As part of my resume for Aether Motion, I’m finishing my “development hell” webseries Dead Air. One episode is in the can, the second is 90% done, and I’ve started on the third. If the third and fourth episodes are finished by April 1st, I can coincide the web series release with the opening of Aether Motion.
  • Indie MoCap:  While searching for indie-budget solutions for motion capture, I was shocked to find that there is no central hub for indie developers tinkering in this niche. Indie MoCap will be that website. I aim to post five articles a week and send out one newsletter every month. I’m set to launch my first content by March 1st.
  • Animation Tutorials: I have a lot to learn with a variety of programs, including Silo 2, 3Ds Max, and Source Filmmaker, as well as motion capture through the Kinect. Three hours a week, I’m targeting my energy towards these programs. Later this year, if I’ve developed my skills enough, I’ll reveal what I plan to do with them.



LONG TERM VISION: While Aether Motion belongs under this banner, and perhaps self-publishing does too, the freelancing and side hustles are mostly there to fund my other endeavors. Copyediting and film equipment aren’t cheap.

  • Freelancing: Freelancing will range from anything to beta reading and copyediting, to designing book covers and web icons, to content writing for blogs. Once I set up my profiles, I will likely link to them in the sidebar. I am a paying member of the Freelance Writer’s Den and intend to put that to good use.
  • Side Hustles: My favorite is Google Opinion Rewards. Every 5-10 seconds of effort gives me 10-50 cents in Google Store credit. I also answer surveys through Swagbucks and Inbox Dollars, hit up store rebates through Ibotta, and gain points through Toluna, Receipt Hog, IPoll, and ShopKick.


  • AusMAtari: AusMAtari is a project of my fiancé’s. Austin is building a “Let’s Play” You tube channel about retro gaming, ranging from the Atari to the Playstation 2. Some games require two players, or a charming lady friend to bounce jokes off of, so I’ll help him out every Saturday. If you’re interested, you can follow his twitter @AusmAtari.
  • Reading: Did I mention that I want to read 50 books this year? That will only happen if I allot time for reading every single day. I need to make a dent in that TBR list, and good writers are also heavy readers.

Still with me? Let’s sit down and process all this. It seems like a lot. It is a lot. And I know I’m human. I’m a particularly lazy human who likes her comfort zones. Realistically, I would be happy to achieve 60-70% of this stuff. I know that 100% is…well. It’s not going to happen.

But did you ever hear the phrase “shoot for the moon, and even if you fail, you will still land among stars”? It’s true. The loftier our goals, the more satisfied we will be with falling short of them. Lofty goals push us farther than we thought we could be pushed. So while my pragmatic side knows that many of these dreams are just dreams, my hopeful side knows that at least a few of them are going to come true. And that’s pretty darn exciting.


You said it, Shia.

15 thoughts on “My Productivity Schedule…and YOU!

  1. Wow, that IS a lot of projects. But doers get things done, so good on you. Best of luck with everything. At least you always have something to work on, which can be good if inspiration in one thing is lacking.

    • I find that I have two gears: do nothing and do everything, ha!

      And yes, that schedule is definitely malleable despite X being on Mondays, Y being on Tuesdays, etc. If I’m jonesing for some editing on a Monday and some animation on a Thursday, I won’t fight the inspiration. That’s kind of the beauty of a schedule like this, because does allow my whims some flexibility. And what’s important to me is what I have to show for things at the end of the month, or at the end of a quarter – not really the end of a day or a week.

  2. That’s a lot on your plate. I’m sure you’ll do well. You’ve inspired me to make time for my photography again. And it’s all about making the time because one will never find the time. Best of luck for all of your projects. I’m looking forward to seeing the results!

    • That’s lovely that you’ve taken up photography again! I find working in multiple mediums to be beneficial. As Carrie said, if you get bored with one thing, you can always dabble in another.

      And yeah….a lot of it is setting myself up for the future, so hopefully this is the type of work that will wane and become automatic at some point. I don’t intend to be a freelancer/self-publisher/videographer/side hustle hybrid forever. I’m mostly dabbling now, and I’ll go with whatever takes off in the most promising fashion.

  3. Way to go, Michelle! I like how you categorized things based on blocks of time (not just days). The more specific the requests, the more likely they will get accomplished. I’m curious to see how you do for the Kindle Shorts. Sounds like you’re channeling your inner Philip K. Dick in terms of being prolific. Best of luck!

    • Yeah, I like the time block method. It’s worked really well for me these past ten days. I’ve had more energy than usual to start, but I don’t feel overwhelmed at all.

      I’m really curious about how it will go too. I’m expecting failure, because if it was super easy then everyone would do it. But I’m cautiously optimistic. I have studied it a LOT, so hopefully I won’t make amateur mistakes. My biggest concern is that my niches may simply not be marketable, as there are not a lot of sci fi/fantasy stories in the erotica section of Amazon. It’s basically just vampires and werewolves – no angels, demons, gods, fairy tale characters, etc. So I wonder if it will sell.

  4. Oh my, this looks like an endeavor… But I’m completely on the same page. I actually started my blog in January for the express purpose of keeping myself accountable in my writing and other artistic pursuits.

    I’ve been working on one novel for a couple years and started another the end of 2015, but still no final drafts… It’s so hard to stay motivated, especially when you’re exhausted from the grind of a regular day job and life in general…

    Good luck with all of your goals!

    • Same here – my novel has been in progress for two years and while it’s almost cooked and done, I lament all the time I wasted *not* progressing my other projects.

      And I have a pretty tiring full time job too, so I definitely relate to that! I really envy people who get by on not needing to work/have their spouse take care of their finances, etc. I do like my self sufficiency though, so I hope to transition from day job to my passions somewhat painlessly. It might take a few years, but better late than never.

  5. Pingback: Productivity Progress Report: Week 1 | Aether House

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