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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Getting on with the project

I have recently attended two classes//lectures given by Thomas Umstattd at the Writers’ League of Texas offices. I think I have learned quite a bit about getting this blog thing to move along. The classes are about blogging and not about writing—except for the part about finding more time to write.

Fred Meredith, one of my writing group buddies is also in the class. This gives me someone to bounce ideas from the class off . Last night, Leslie Torish, a former member of our writing group, was also in attendance—it was great to see and talk with Leslie again.

The first class—7 Secrets of effective author blogs—turned out to be closer to 15 secrets. Actually, some weren’t so secret. All were common sense and fairly easy to employ; some required a little more effort than others, but not a big deal.

The 2 main points that really stuck with me were to: (1) provide value (may be harder than all the other secrets) and (2) Focus. My primary blog is not focused at all; especially in the way Thomas recommends. On my random entries blog I am usually all over the map; commenting on anything and everything that strikes me as needing (well, not always needing) comment or clarification.

The easy actions I immediately fixed the very next day: adding the Twitter and FaceBook share buttons up close to the top. I don’t yet understand how I will know if any visitor uses these—maybe I’ll learn this in a subsequent class.

Another interesting quirk that Thomas suggested was to incorporate numbers (i.e. 6 things that make you question) and questions words (who, why, where, when, etc.) into the posting titles. I went out and changed my last 2 posting the very next day to conform with this suggestion. I don’t know yet if I will go back and alter the others or not.

The second class—How to write more & work less—turned out to be just a bit deeper than the 1st class. The suggestions were more life structuring than simple actions. Again, there were many more (12) recommendations than just a paltry few and were followed by 3 time saving tools and 12 bonus tips.

I would think the 2 main points from this session were (1) prioritize your activities and (2) track where you spend time. Knowing and analyzing where you are wasting time can probably regain you plenty of time to offset the tracking of where your time goes during the day.

There were some other good ones like (a) keeping a ToDo list, (b) go to bed, (c) learn to use Google and (d) avoid useless online activity. All good ideas but during my retirement day, my biggest distraction is letting the pups in and outta the house—dogs with short attention spans can consume a lot of time.

The time saving tools: (1) Scrivener—maybe only really available on Macs, (2) Own an iPhone or smart phone—I don’t and currently don’t plan to go there any time soon, and (3) buy and read the book “Getting Things Done” by David Allen—I might just consider, especially if I can come across a copy at the Half-Price store next time I’m in there.

The bonus tips were really directed to those that have some personal traits that need working on. These included such topics as:

  • Finish what you start
  • Practice the discipline of REST
  • Read the whole page
  • Don’t repeat the same task more than twice
  • Maximize wasted time
  • Write your schedule in (the metaphorical) pencil

As soon as I get this posted. I’m gonna look over the rest of my notes and see what I can take up next to help improve getting on with my project.

Or I might get another one of those Greyhound Bus sized brownies I cook the other day and take a break—the pups are outside anyhow!

Just maybe I’ll just go back to the current entry I was working on and finish it.

Whadda ya think?