Wednesday, 8 April 2020

Full moon and completion of another book.

Super moon
We are having a super big full moon this week. The moon is at the closest position to the earth. Big tides and big storms. Also, the full moon represents completion, the height of power, the realization of one's desires and the peak of clarity. It is a time to celebrate your growth, take note of what progress you have made and to reflect on how far you have come. 
I finished the final (hopefully) rewrite of my second book, Atlantic Crossing. It is now time to polish it, and send it to a beta reader. Chris W. agreed to do it, we just need to negotiate the price or trade. I prefer to trade but we'll see.

I also sent it to New York Book Editors (who in fact are located in Florida, not New York) for a quote. Given that I am not expecting this book to be a best seller or a life changer, their quote is quite a bit out of my budget. However, it is good to give it a try. Perhaps the next book will be more marketable.
Atlantic Crossing is a memoir of what else, my Atlantic crossing with one of my old flames, James. 
I look forward to seeing it in print.


Saturday, 4 April 2020

Reading 50K to Writing 50K app

"There are plenty difficult obstacles in your path. Don't allow yourself to become one of them." Ralph Morrison

Since I couldn't find a motivational app for writers that I like, I decided to write one myself. I am using a calendar to remind me each day that I need to write, a stopwatch to time the writing session, and a tape recorder.

The app is modeled on the original C25K (Couch to 5 km) running app but is adjusted for the life of a writer who is suffering from the often praised malady of reading too much and not getting anything written - thus the name: Reading 50K to Writing 50K.

During week 1, the program involves a 3-minute preparation, then two segments of 10 minutes of writing with a 3-minute break in the middle, followed by a 3-minute finishing up. Participants are encouraged to use it every day.

Here is the beta app to help you write regularly:

I am now working on week 2 (increasing the time writing) and packaging the app for marketing. 

Keep writing!


Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Writing prompt: 300 words starting with, "I blame the quarantine."

This is not my idea, it belongs to Dr. Karen Boren a professor at Rhode Island College. Check the link to send your entry in. 

Here is mine: 
I blame the quarantine for getting me to write again.
It has been a long time, over six months since I've opened the Scribner project file for my second book, Atlantic Crossing. I was having an extended writer's block. It started soon after I had my writing group read it and make comments. It was much too soon. Stephen King said that he writes the first draft with the door closed and the second with it open. Even then, it is only his wife that gets to comment on it. I better remember this advice in the future.
There are other reasons why I didn't write for so long. I live on my sailboat in Greece. In spring I have many boat maintenance projects to tackle. With a helper to assist, we clean, sand, varnish, and paint leaving the writing simmering on the back burner of my mind.
In summer it gets even harder to get any work on my book done, because there are so many other, more fun things to do, such as suntanning, swimming, and hanging out in a cafe with friends.
I promise myself to write in the fall and winter when the weather deteriorates and I spend more time inside my boat. But this past winter, I fought and lost this promise, and instead played on my new keyboard, read, cooked, napped and of course, browsed the Internet.
In mid-March, Greece went into lockdown due to the Coronavirus and for the first two weeks, I followed the developments online. But now, I see that this will be a long quarantine and so have accepted the inevitable lost summer of sailing. After reading that Shakespeare wrote King Lear during the plague, I have finally set up a schedule to work on my soon to be a bestseller.
I blame it on the quarantine.


Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Be More Productive In 7 Days, by Phyllis Korkki

While we are all under lockdown due to the Coronavirus, I'm trying to get a few things done instead of spending most of the day browsing the Internet. However, while browsing last night, I found an article in The New York Times, "Be More Productive In 7 days," by Phyllis Korkki. Perfect! I love learning new things. 

The form of the article is simple: 

Day 1: Commit to 10 minutes. 
It means setting a timer for 5 minutes to work, then one-minute rest followed by another 5 minutes of work. That's easy, I said to myself. I've been wanting to finish this book I started a couple of years ago and keep postponing. But I can do something for 10 minutes even if all I get done is open the Scrivener project file. And what do you know? I actually went through several sections of chapter 8 that I've been stuck on. 
Once the timer goes off marking the end of the work, you're supposed to stop and so I patted myself on the back for getting through my writer's block. Interestingly enough, on another app I've been exploring, I received a quote by Confucius, "It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you don't stop." Very fitting. I signed up for reminders to the productivity plan and this morning received a message from Phyllis with day two assignment. 

Day 2: Make a Realistic To-Do List. 
This means a specific list with fewer than 12 short tasks that can be accomplished in 10 minutes and each with a visible result. I'm using Google Tasks and Calendar for reminders, of things to do so I went through the list for today and adjusted the items to be shorter and more specific. I am happy to report that I completed most of them. 

Day 3: Connect Your Body and Mind. 
This is about posture and how good posture and deep breathing encourages good productivity while at one's desk. Also, the need to take regular breaks. Dr. Korkki recommends working for 10-20 minutes and then taking a physical break to stand up or walk around before resuming work. I do slouch while writing on my laptop and bend my head down to see the screen. Not a good idea but I'm not sure how to correct that except to work at a stand-up desk. Perhaps I'll put the laptop on the top companionway step... not easy to type this way. But taking a regular break is an idea I will definitely adopt. 

Day 4: Rise Above the Noise. 
This one is not as easy as it sounds. It involves turning off all distractions such as email, Facebook, news updates, phone, walk-ins, and so on. The best way to deal with those is to check them on your schedule, not when something pings. Dr. Korkki suggests every hour, but I think I can manage three times a day. The rest of the time, I am free to get some work done. Of course, as per assignment for day 1, all I need to do is 10 minutes of work per day. 😇 

Day 5: Find a Partner. 
This is not so easy. I've never had success with accountability partners. They either flake out or couldn't care less if I get things done as they're too busy living their life. Dr. Korkki also suggests posting one's measurable, specific goal with a deadline of today or tomorrow on social media and then posting once it's done. I've been doing this with my runs on Strava but there isn't anything like it for writers. I need an accountability partner who is a writer. Now, which goal should I choose for this assignment? Finish my book! 

Day 6: Extend Your Focus. 
This assignment is about working on a bigger project and focusing on a single task for two hours with two or three unscheduled breaks if necessary. The purpose is to focus on working longer but not worrying about quality, just quantity. Many of us are perfectionists and get blocked because we worry about not getting it right. "Focus on quantity and let God worry about quality." It is hoped that you will reach the state of flow where you lose track of time and accomplish much more than you expect. 

Day 7: Look to the Future. 
This is about just looking over the past week and seeing how you did. What worked and what didn't. What have you learned and did you notice the benefits of following the assignment's suggestions? Write down three new things you did this week that could potentially be carried over into new and permanent habits over time. Place the list on your desk in view, so that it could help you get you back on track next time your mind starts to stray from your work. Ok, so I set up a timer for 5, 10, and 15 minutes to get my scheduled projects done. I wrote an app to keep me writing regularly, recorded a video of me playing piano for a talent show, and asked a friend to be my cheerleader. 

All good. A worthwhile set of assignments to become more productive. 

By the way, Phyllis Korkki is the author of The Big Thing: How to Complete Your Creative Project Even if You're a Lazy, Self-Doubting Procrastinator Like Me. 

Can't wait to read it AFTER I finish my own book!

C25K for writers

I've been running for over a year now using C25K (couch to 5km) app to motivate and encourage me. The first week I used it, it told me to run/walk three times a week, with more walking and less running. It beeped at me to change from one to the other. During the following 8 weeks, the app told me to progressively run more and walk less until, by the end of the program, I was able to run the entire 30 minutes. I have graduated now to the next app, the C2 10K and have developed the habit of getting out and doing my run every second day. 

I am also using another app to motivate me. It is called Strava and it maps my route as well as gives me the distance I've covered, my pace and the time I've been training. I can post photos and there is an online community of people who can give me kudos. There are milestones I can sign up for and achievements for which I get a virtual medal.
Together with Spotify for music, I am all set. 
I feel lost if I am not able to run due to weather or some other factor. I have developed a healthy habit.

I want the same thing for my writing. I want an app that reminds me to write for 30 minutes every day, with breaks after 10 minutes of work, increasing my goal each week. I want an app that will track my word count and a community that gives me kudos for each page, scene, chapter I finish. I want assistance in developing the habit of writing and editing
.
I use Scribner to organize my manuscripts and there is a project as well as session target function that I can set up but that's not enough to get me into the habit of sitting down for a set time to write. I want a C25K/Strava combination for writers.

I have now set up a reminder on my calendar to work on one small part of the book each day: a specific, achievable goal and then set the timer for 10 minutes. At the moment, 10 minutes is all I can do, but plan on increasing it every week. I've approached a friend who is also a writer and with whom I hope to exchange our successes of words written and editing done. This plan has worked, but I prefer the verbal cues of the C25K rather than the beeps. So, I've recorded a similar voice message with encouragements and reminders and count down.

Friday, 20 March 2020

Coronavirus benefits the planet.






The year 2020 will be known for the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic throughout the world. It was discovered first in China and then spread to Europe, the Middle East, and North America, soon followed by the rest of the planet.
Perhaps it is Mother Nature's attempt to save herself from human exploitation and damage. Already, by mid-March, pollution has decreased, especially in China. The water in the canals of Venice is crystal clear. Flights throughout the world have been reduced if not completely canceled - again a good thing for the environment. People are advised to stay at home. Some are quarantined. They work less, pay better attention to their health and spend more time with their loved ones. The economy suffers as we shop less, consume less, do less but as a minimalist, I see that as a good thing for the planet. The whole world is on the same side of this war against a common enemy, so wars against nations ease. I don't see a downside for Mother Nature.

Sunday, 29 September 2019

Leave a legacy

After you've finished working and raising your children, comes longed for retirement. No more early morning commute, no more snarky boss. You can do whatever you choose. So, you sleep-in, spend the whole morning eating breakfast and reading the paper. Then perhaps go out, shop and meet friends for lunch. Afternoon nap takes care of an hour or three. Soon, the sun is going down and it's dinner time and then a bit of TV or a Netflix movie before sleep.
Is this how you want to spend the rest of your life?

Sunday, 15 September 2019

Writers' Group in Lefkas, Greece

I've decided to organize a Writer's Group in Lefkas this winter, beginning in November. The group will initially meet at Porto Cafe at the Lefkas Marina. Day and time still to be announced. If this doesn't work, we can also meet onboard my sailboat, Eidos which will be docked at the marina. Everyone is welcome, whether you've been writing for years or just beginning. The group will be free to join - you only need to buy a coffee at Porto as a thank you for hosting us. Click on Writers' Group for more information.

Atlantic Crossing - update

It looks like my second book, Atlantic Crossing is finally heading for the finish line. I'm halfway through this present edit, and not having to change much anymore. 
I've had a number of people from Scribophile critique most of the chapters over these past few months and one friend has read the entire manuscript in one go. I am planning to send it to two or three additional beta readers before finally sending it to a professional editor. If I can find a publisher, I will go that route, otherwise, I'll self publish in time for Christmas 2000 as with my first book, Salt Water In My Veins.

Thursday, 5 September 2019

Example of a cover letter that works

The following cover letter has been my standard for many years and it has worked with most of the editors that I've sent my work to. It is brief, has a hook in the first line and gives the editor all the information that is needed. 

Sunday, 31 March 2019

Flow

I've been struggling recently, trying to edit for the umpteenth time my new book, Crossing Atlantic. I've joined a critique group on Scribophile and I've gone through the first draft once already. I think I need to take a break now and get some perspective before going through another edit. Meanwhile, I will catch up on some articles that I want to send out into the world.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in his book, Finding Flow, would say that the editing part is not challenging enough and that I am bored.

Monday, 18 March 2019

The routine of writing

What helps you be most productive when it comes to your writing? I know we're all different, but what works for you? 
I get out of bed, put the coffee on, open my laptop, then my Scrivener file, and start typing before my brain wakes up and says, "wouldn't you rather check your email, the weather, or the news?" 

Monday, 11 March 2019

My afternoon run

Now that my broken foot has healed, I started running again. I follow a C25K (couch to 5 Km.) program which begins with a five-minute warm-up, followed by eight one- minute runs alternating with one-minute walks. At the end, there is a five-minute cooldown. Total of about half an hour. I do this every second day.

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Spring

It's spring in Greece. Wild plum blossoms have exploded on the trees on the edge of a lagoon in Aktio. Birds are chirping among the boats in the boatyard, looking for nest sites. Some of the owners have already arrived to prepare their boats for launching. But snow still caps the tops of the mountain peaks to the east and I still turn the heater on early in the morning. Soon, soon, I will stop hibernating and life afloat will begin once again.