A Better Week – Sort Of

Thanks for all the well wishes last week. I’m glad to report that this past week was (relatively) pain free, aside from oh my god it is pollening so hard outside, I can’t breathe and my head hurts. There was one day where I was basically bedridden after work because of lower back issues, but mostly I was just plagued by lethargia. I don’t know if it was my autoimmune system flaring up to fight away a virus I picked up, or if it was just my sinuses, but I didn’t want to do much.

Luckily, I feel pretty great today. And since I have Friday off and I took Thursday off as well, it is an abbreviated work week. If this won’t get me back on the saddle, nothing will.

Some highlights of what I got done last week: (it’s not much, but it’s something)

  • 4000 words of The Shadow of Saturn. I am officially caught up to March 1. But I still 21,000 words behind. Eek.
  • Paradisa edits, as usual. Still on track for this. If nothing else, I’ve been editing Paradisa consistently!
  • Indie MoCap, one article per day and continuing to build my social media platforms and email list. I wish this was growing faster, but these things take time.
  • Video Business, looked into getting a bank account and discovered that I need an IRS form. Trying to get that sent to my house this week.
  • Kindle shorts, wrote 1500 words of Short #2 and changed my keywords around for Short #1. Sales slumped drastically last week, so maybe some new keywords will help. I rank very high in all of the new ones, and I even rank #1 in one of them.
  • Reading: Finished Ready Player One. I have lots of thoughts about it that I need to articulate. I may actually write the rare book review it. I started on A Vision of Fire, which was my Bookcase Club book of the month, but it’s pretty lame so far and I might switch to the assuredly-better Rollback.
  • Submissions: I actually managed to submit to 3 literary marketplaces this week. Woohoo.

I didn’t edit any Dead Air, work on my video website, work on freelance or AusmAtari, work on my short story, or do animation tutorials. I mostly played a lot of Fallout 4, because it was the only thing I had the energy to do. I’m also aware that tomorrow will be eaten by the release of some Fallout 4 DLC, so I’ll probably do Tuesday’s work tonight. ;)

It may be worth mentioning that I did some spring cleaning yesterday too. I sent a load of clothes to Goodwill, purged my cosmetics cabinet, washed my clothes and sheets, and got groceries. Not fun or artsy stuff, but a necessary part of Adulting.

I’m ready to say sayonara to all this March pain and blandness. I have things to do, darn it!

My Time of Perfect Health May Have Run Out

March has been difficult. All that momentum I built up has been lost to a combination of personal responsibilities (a couple concerts, some social outings, doing my taxes) and feeling generally unwell since the month began.

I’ve had sciatic nerve problems since I was 18, but it’s been rare. Maybe a flare-up once every 3 months. I’ve also had back issues for about two years, but only enough to make me creaky in the mornings and for my shoulder blades to sting if I look down at my phone for too long. But for the last month, I’ve noticed the sciatica becoming more frequent – once a week, then twice a week, and now some spike of it nearly every day. My lower back continually aches, and that pain echoes down my entire lower half. The joints in my arms and fingers and knees hurt too. I feel inflammation everywhere, and am left sore all over.

Autoimmune disease runs in my family. Rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia, mostly, but also lupus and narcolepsy. It exists in my cousins and aunts, but also in my grandmother and mother. My 23andMe genetic profile even claims I’m at higher risk for the autoimmune disorders of MS, ankylosing spondylitis (which is basically RA of the spine), narcolepsy, and ulcerative colitis.

So, an autoimmune disease someday plaguing me is not a question of “if”, but “when.” And I’m starting to wonder if “when” is “at the age of 24, because seriously Michelle, you aren’t a teenager anymore.”

I’m planning to see my mother’s rheumatologist soon and get some tests done. It might require a referral, which could take some time. Either way, this has interfered with my life to the point where I’m less productive at my day job – even taking some PTO one day because I was too sore to really do anything – and absolutely unproductive in my home work.

That’s not to say I haven’t made some progress, though. For what it’s worth, here’s the status quo for most of my projects:

  • Indie MoCap: Officially launched and growing. I’ve kept up with posting every weekday, I’m building my Twitter following, and my email list has a few subscribers. As long as I keep plugging away at it, the site should continue to grow and be impossible to ignore.
  • Video Business: I obtained the keys to my PO Box. Honestly, this was so that I don’t have to use my home address on my Indie MoCap mailing list (or any other mailing list). But I may use it for business purposes as well. I also sent in for my tax returns this weekend, and will get my work bonus tomorrow, so I will have enough cash to purchase all my videography equipment this week. Huzzah! It’s all in my Amazon cart waiting to be purchased.
  • Kindle Self Publishing: I’ll show my records in detail after a month has passed, but sales have been shockingly decent. Over 10 days, I have made about $11 in royalties with virtually no promotion and no backlist. I’m ranking #4 in one of my keywords too. That doesn’t seem like much, but I’ve heard so many horror stories about authors making one sale or no sales at all. It’s also worth noting that sales and KU rentals have been steady, with activity occurring almost every day. For this story to basically be selling itself has made me very happy. Someone even took the time to leave a review (which was well rounded and generally positive, but did said there was too much erotica in my erotica story. To which I’m like “…what?”) I’m halfway through my second story and have the cover finished, so that will go up under my other pen name soon.
  • Dead Air Webseries: I missed my editing session last Wednesday, but this episode is an easy edit. I should still have it finished by April.
  • Paradisa Edits: I finally rewrote what two of my betas dubbed The Worst Scene In The Entire Book, ha. I had been procrastinating on that one, so I’m glad it’s out of my hair. Still on track to be done by April.
  • The Shadow of Saturn First Draft: Blerg. I have used up all of the text from my first attempt and now must write from scratch. I am about 10,000 words behind now. I might have to eat my loss on this one and work harder in April. After all, so long as it’s finished in its entirety by May, I’m still good.
  • Side Hustles: Earned some in ShopKick, Ibotta, Receipt Hog, Swagbucks, and Inbox Dollars last week. I think I’m officially passing on iPoll and Qriket because they’re kinda useless. Honestly, once I get a few of those Kindle stories out there, I will probably drop these entirely. Publishing has made me loads more passive income.
  • Short Story: This is a bit unplanned, but I am working on a submission for the “Strange California” anthology right now. It involves Cecil B Demille and the excavation of his Ten Commandments set. Right now I’m in the research stage, but I’d like to write this next weekend.
  • Reading: I’m still on Ready Player One. I might be able to make it through The Call of Cthulhu and one other novel by the end of March. At this point, I’m almost certain I won’t make it to 4.

And then let’s not even talk about animation practice, short story submissions, freelance, or AusmAtari. I’m way behind on all of that.

All things considered, I can lick my wounds and move on. My most important projects are still chugging along. But I can’t really afford to have another dead week. I particularly need to make up ground on The Shadow of Saturn and I need to put more effort into my short works. I’d also like to launch my vid biz to the public in April, which means I need to finish the website and throw some demo pieces together.

Wish me luck and good health, friends. Mentally, I’m in a good place. It’s just frustrating when the body won’t cooperate with it!

How Did I Do In February?

Darn good, as it turns out. No, not 100% on point with my plans, but probably 90% there. Which is pretty awesome, considering my realistic goal was about 70%!

Rather than taking you through the things I did this week, I’m going to summarize how my overall goals for this month fared.

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  • The Shadow of Saturn First Draft
    • GOAL: 30,000 words
    • ACTUAL: 23,000 words, but the day isn’t over yet. I’m sure I can get to 28,000 tonight, which is close enough. I am still on track to finish this first draft by May.
  • Paradisa Edits
    • GOAL: To be halfway done with developmental edits
    • ACTUAL: This is a bit hard to quantify, but I did schedule all my edits between now and March 31, and I met all of those goals. I also decided to devote April to line-editing, which takes off some burden. Originally I wanted my past tense conversion and all line edits to be done within this next month, but I’m going to focus on developmental editing only.
  • Short Story Submissions 
    • GOAL: Submit 12 poems or short pieces to 12 publications.
    • ACTUAL: Achieved! And two are in the “final round of consideration” for two different publishers. I will hear back from both in April.

Overall writing grade? I’d say an A. I was a pretty studious writer this month.

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  • The Con Runner’s Handbook
    • GOAL: Brainstorm the book.
    • ACTUAL: I did brainstorm it. I thought my goals were more lofty on this one, as I felt bad about not having it fully outlined. Looks like past!Michelle knew that would be a bit too much for the time being, and already set the bar low.
  • Kindle Shorts
    • GOAL: Write and publish four shorts for Kindle.
    • ACTUAL: I completed one of them, and hope to publish it tonight. The other three were consumed by Sundays that went to other projects. I’m not going to beat myself up about this, especially as writing the first one was a lot of fun and not terribly difficult. But this first one is taking me awhile because the process is new to me. Once I can get into a routine, I’ll hopefully become more prolific. Additionally, I’ve decided to devote 1 Sunday every month to writing a short story for publication, so that will reduce my Kindle burden too.

I’d say a B for this one, as I technically completed my Con Runner’s goal and I am exploring the Kindle Short publication process. Perhaps not as quickly as I’d hoped, but it’s coming.

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  • Video Company
    • GOAL: Work on website, research equipment, and file for an LLC.
    • ACTUAL: I did manage to file my LLC, ha! I am now officially a business owner. I also researched equipment, and narrowed it down to two DSLR cameras (the Canon 70D and one of the Canon Rebel EOS t series. Any opinions?). I designed my logo, linked my domain to my Squarespace account, and started designing my website. And best of all, I secured two “gigs” for when I purchase my camera (nonpaying, but it will help my reel). I still hope to launch the site officially on April 1st (no joke ;D) and I feel that I’m on track. I get a bonus at work this month, which I’ll use to purchase my equip.
  • Dead Air Webseries
    • GOAL: Complete Episode #4
    • ACTUAL: I did it, aside from some color correction and sound balancing. On to the next!
  • Indie MoCap
    • GOAL: 20 articles, a completed March newsletter, functional social media accounts and a site launch on March 1st.
    • ACTUAL: 9 articles, plus two secured interviews with some wonderful people in the industry. March newsletter is complete. My Twitter is thriving, although I need to get my YouTube, Google +, and Facebook accounts going. The site launch has been pushed back to March 7th, but I’ve been working diligently on the site, mailing list, forums, and many other features.
  • Animation Tutorials
    • GOAL: 4 animation tutorials complete
    • ACTUAL: 1 complete, plus some tinkering with Black Desert Character Creator, downloading Source Filmmaker, and the start of a 2nd tutorial. Mondays were rough. I’m going to move animation to Thursdays in March, and maybe put my Indie MoCap stuff on Mondays (as I….sometimes get that stuff done at work >.>)

I’m very pleased with how things are going. The prospect of my video company becoming a thriving business is incredibly exciting, as is the growing interest in Indie MoCap. I modified my schedule to make animation more of a priority, and I will continue to work diligently on finishing Dead Air in time for my video company’s launch. \o/

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  • Freelance
    • GOAL: Have talent, make money?
    • ACTUAL: So, you can see why I failed here. I didn’t have any concrete goals! I threw Freelancing onto the burner end of my schedule – Friday nights and Saturdays – which I normally use to relax. I did start interacting with the Freelance Writers Den and doing research, but I didn’t set up my profiles on Odesk and such. With all of my film goals thriving, I’m starting to wonder if freelance writing and graphics is too much extra effort. Or if I need to approach this a different way. Perhaps in March, I will resolve to 1) set up my profiles and 2) write an essay or article to pitch to a few different magazines.
  • Side Hustles
    • GOAL: Earn $100
    • ACTUAL: I earned enough through Google Opinion Rewards to pay for my YouTube Red subscription (I think it was about $13 total). I am up to $15 on Inbox Dollars and $15 on Swagbucks, as well as $13 on Ibotta. I think I’m at $4 on ShopKick. Total, that’s $60. I didn’t put nearly as much effort into this as I could have, and I haven’t cashed out yet. I think I’ll lower my goal to about $40 in March and see where that goes.

Big C for this one, gang. I need to decide where to take my Freelance work and accept that my side hustle apps are pretty low priority.

otherstuff

  • AusmAtari Retro YouTube Channel
    • GOAL: 8 videos
    • ACTUAL: 5. It would have been 6 or 7, but Austin’s setup gave us massive technical difficulties on Saturday. At least the 5 we have turned out really well!
  •  AusmAtari Retro YouTube Channel
    • GOAL: A book every week
    • ACTUAL: I did it! I completed Chris Kennedy’s Self Publishing For Profit, Leona Wisoker’s The Secret of The Sands, Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner’s These Broken Stars, and Gillian Flynn’s Dark Places. All of which were quite good, although TSotS was long and has scared me away from books over 100k for awhile (it just took me a long time to get through, and I don’t want to get behind on my 50 book goal). This week, I’m reading Ready Player One. Also in the pipeline for March is The Call of Cthulhu by Lovecraft, If On A Winter’s Night A Traveler by Calvino, and Rollback by Robert J Sawyer.

 

Usually after a productivity attempt, I totally overhaul my old methods and come up with something new. However, I think I’ve finally struck gold with this schedule. Aside from swapping my Indie MoCap and Animation days, and consolidating The Shadow of Saturn to 4 days instead of 7, this schedule will remain the same. I am also reducing my load on Fridays, as I find it to be the most unproductive day of the week. Overall, I do not feel any sense of fatigue or burnout. I did a lot of fun things this month, from playing several hours of Fallout 4, to going to a friend’s party, to going to the movies three times and watching plenty of Hulu and YouTube.

We have to know ourselves honestly to achieve that which we strive towards. I have to accept that I am useless on Fridays. I have to accept that technical difficulties happen sometimes. I have to accept that sometimes, projects require more work than I originally planned and may require a week or two of delay. And don’t be afraid to reevaluate your plans and consider if they’re what you really want (like my freelancing). If you really want something, you will make time for it. You’ll have vision for it. If something keeps getting pushed off, you and that project may not be right for each other after all.

Cheers, kids! What are your proud of from February, and what are you looking forward to doing in March?

 

Productivity Progress Report Week 2: I Need A Time Turner!

Last week began excellently, but I threw it away in the 4th quarter. Chalk it up to Deadpool, Valentine’s Day, and my general fatigue over the weekend (Deadpool, by the way, was quite good. I don’t normally enjoy R-Rated humor, but it was funny and edgy while still being….tasteful? You’ll have to wait until December for my Movie Report Card to hear more of my verdict, but I massively undercut my prediction on this one.)

Anyway, here’s the good, the bad, and the ugly for my second week on this schedule.

THE GOOD

  • Indie MoCap Newsletter: I actually finished this for the entire month, meaning my next two Thursdays will have an hour freed up. Whoo.
  • AusmAtari Retro YouTube Channel: Once again, we filmed two Let’s Plays on Saturday afternoon.
  • Cover Design For Kindle:  Already had my cover designed for the current WIP.
  • Dead Air Webseries: Still on track to finish an episode by the end of the month.
  • Editing Paradisa: I exceeded my plans! I had two medium level edits, one new scene, and one easy edit to make. I think I did all of those and an additional 2-3 edits on my list. I might actually have this finished before March 31…
  • Camera and Equipment Research: I let this slide on the first week, but did plenty of catch-up. I am torn between a Canon DSLR and a Sony HD cam, leaning more towards the Sony now. In a perfect world, I could get both. Alas.
  • Animation: Learned how to set up a reference photo box in 3Ds Max and began a tutorial on character box modeling. I got a bit stuck on the tutorial I was working on, but I figured out my issue after mulling a bit. I also downloaded Source Filmmaker and picked up the PC version of Fallout 4 during Steam’s Lunar sale, mostly to play with its resource files.

THE OKAY

  • Indie MoCap Website: I set up my BlueHost account and installed WordPress, along with transferring my domain. It will take a week for the transfer to go through, so I couldn’t actually edit the website yet.
  • Writing Submissions: I managed to edit one of my stories and submit it to Okey Panky. Now that it’s fixed, I need to send it off to some others.
  • Aether Motion Website: Set up my Squarespace account.
  • LLC Research: I still haven’t filled out my paperwork, but I have a list of all the steps I need to do and a pdf of the Articles of Organization. It’s just a matter of doing it.
  • Reading: My reading improved this week. I am almost finished with Secret of The Sands.
  • Indie MoCap Articles: Once again, I finished two and started on a third.  I’m starting to think that Thursday nights might be for my long form articles and all my other articles will be written on the spot before posting. The idea of writing five in one night is daunting.
  • The Shadow of Saturn First Draft: I wrote some, but am currently 4000 words behind. I was too busy with Indie MoCap stuff on Thursday, and I didn’t even want to look at my computer over the weekend. Luckily, I’m still pulling words from my original draft, so I’m certain I can catch up this week.

THE BAD

  • The Con Runner’s Handbook Outline: Didn’t work on this at all. Not a big deal to skip a week, but I still want an outline complete by the end of February.
  • Freelance Video and Writing: I did not progress much. I agreed to devote some of my freelance time to editing the AusmAtari videos, but I didn’t even manage that.
  • Side Hustles: Didn’t do much for these at all.
  • Writing For Kindle: Probably my biggest disappointment of the week. I had full intentions on Sunday morning to tackle the 3500-4000 words I had left to write for this….and then I spent five hours finishing Austin’s V-Day present and it exhausted me. Alas, I know there wasn’t much of a choice here. I needed to finish that present! But by 1:00, after setting up dinner and finishing that, I was pooped for the rest of the day. Which is why I was like “screw it, let’s just go see Deadpool.”

Unfortunately, this week will not get off to the easiest start, as my Monday night will be monopolized by seeing former President George W. Bush at the local arena (one of my bucket list items is to see a President in person, and my mom surprised me with a ticket. May as well, right? Especially on President’s Day!) Despite my bucket list having one more check, I will be another 1000k in the Shadow of Saturn hole and still trailing on animation.

I am also entering this week with a lot more fatigue in general. This work is not coming as easy as it did the first two weeks. I don’t feel burnt out or overworked from an inspiration standpoint, and mentally I’m in a good place, but my body is bedraggled and my neck/skull area has been in a bit of pain. Heh, might need more caffeine and vitamins this week. And maybe some cheering on from my lovely readers ^_^

 

Productivity Progress Report: Week 1

How about that accountability? You seemed supportive of my scheduling, so I’m continuing the transparency by keeping you aware on my progress. Eventually, all this work may become so habitual that I don’t need to track it. But while I’m still hammering my life into a routine, I need to monitor what I’m accomplishing one day at a time.

And I’m pleased to say that last week went REALLY well. Almost perfectly!

Here’s the schedule again, for reference.

schedule

And here are my results…

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