lindsay emory

Welcome to the official site of Lindsay Emory, author of books with kisses and sass including the Sorority Sisters Mysteries, The Last Plus One, and the forthcoming The Royal Runaway.

Filtering by Tag: calendar

Spreadsheets are Sexy

Get It Together Blog Hop Graphic big I write books. I also have a 40 hour a week full time job.  My school-aged kids are at the soccer fields at least five days out of seven. My husband has a full time job and plays on two soccer teams of his own. We have two dogs, a guinea pig, friends, church activities, neighbors, an older house with a big yard, and not even close to having enough time in the week to just hang out and watch Ballers.  (It has The Rock in it. Need I say more?) How do I handle all of the above and feed my family and exercise and keep laundry moving?

I don’t even know. Just typing this has made me exhausted.

But I try to stay organized and on top of things.  In fact, being organized is the ONLY way that I could ever find time to do all of the above.

Currently, my system  all hinges around these two items. My phone and my planner.

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Okay, and my computer. And those pens.

Now, back at the beginning of 2014, I blogged here  about how I was going all digital. At that time, I set aside my pretty Louis Vuitton planner (bought used in 2007 on ebay with some birthday money) and went all in with my phone and Google calendar.  And for a while, it worked. I was a convert.  I had all my schedules, tasks, calendars consolidated in one nifty device that I could fit in my pocket.

But then my publishing career started to pick up. Suddenly I had more deadlines, blog tours and submissions and in the fall of 2014, I felt the need for a paper calendar again. Something I could write in pretty colors and see a month at a glance.  I tried several versions of the May Design books and this summer headed back to my trusty paper planner as an aide to my phone.

Here’s how it’s breaking down:

On phone/Google calendar: all appointments, travel, soccer games, piano lessons, holidays, parties.  Basically, anything that I need an “alert” for or anything that my husband might need to reference from wherever he is.

On paper calendar: travel, important unmissable bigger events (a friend’s 40th birthday party, neighborhood picnic), birthdays, book deadlines (edits due, manuscript TBF, etc.), blog posts and tours.

You might be asking, why do I need the paper and the digital calendars?  I think of it as covering both my microcosm and the macrocosm.  On most days I need  the immediacy, the minute-to-minute alerts and convenience of my phone. Some days I need to sit back and look at the big picture – when will I write this masterpiece? Where does this project fit between all my other projects? Do I have too much going on in July 2015? (The answer was yes.)

The planner also holds my weekly menus, to-do lists, workouts, etc.  It may be old-fashioned but there is no more satisfying feeling than physically crossing off something. Even on my busiest, craziest days, if I can cross-off "write blog post" or "buy birthday gift" I feel like maybe I might not be a complete failure.

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What about the books?

A lot of writers (some of whom you’ll find on the Get It Together blog hop) keep track of all their word goals and counts on a yearly and daily basis.  I… do not. Currently, I have a personal goal of writing three books a year. I feel that’s do-able given my life  But  so far I haven’t gotten into such a routine that I can washi tape a section off in my planner and input consistent, daily word counts.  Also, sometimes I can write a book in three weeks. Sometimes it’s three months.  What can I say, the muse is finicky.

What I do use, is a spreadsheet.  Inspired by my friends Audra North and Julia Kelly and their comprehensive spreadsheets that they kindly shared with me, I developed my own spreadsheet to keep track of writing projects at all their stages, from plot bunny to published.  Once a book is in the writing stage, I do keep track of word count in there and when it goes off to the agent and editor, I  track those dates, too.    Other things that go in the spreadsheet are expenses, contacts I’ve made and professional goals (like apply for PAN, attend a mystery convention, win a RITA. The usual.)

I recommend a spreadsheet to anyone, as it really helps me synthesize the creative side of writing with the business side and visually "see" the books as a process.  I think it would especially be helpful for those that are self-publishing and have way more details to keep track of than I do.

 

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And for those that really want to know, I do my book drafts in Scrivener, which is full of great organizational tools and I don't even use that many of them (or know what they are. )  Its primary benefit, for me, is that beautiful cork board which helps me manually and visually arrange the scenes and plot points of a book.

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And those are the highlights of how I manage my life and my writing.  At least this month.

I'd love to hear what you use, if I've inspired you or what tips or tricks you have for me!  Want to hear more from all our TWENTY SEVEN authors? Go here to follow along the blog hop for the next week.  We have an amazing group of authors who all have different methods, processes and tips for organizing life, career and books.  It's going to be a very interesting week!

OH! And how could I forget? We have giveaways! Click on the graphic below to sign up to win books and gift cards and fun organizational accessories:

 blog hop giveaway

Happy 2014! The Year of...?

ImageI love New Year's Day. For the past eight years, we've celebrated New Year's Eve with a rockin' party with our good friends ("rockin'" = chili, hot dogs, pajamas, cookies, ok... wine.) Then after midnight, everyone goes home, I sweep up the crumbs and throw away the paper plates and go to bed, waking on New Year's Day with a full heart and a clean house.  

For nearly twenty years, I also would start a new calendar on New Year's Day. What better way to start a new year? So full of promise, possibility? A clean slate, literally. Pages and pages of potential parties, trips and tasks, just waiting to be filled in.

Just thinking about it is making me warm inside.

Except this year...  There is no fresh calendar. No clean pages. No blank squares.  Because 2013 was the year I went digital.

After years of mocking  and derision and dumbfounded looks from friends, colleagues and spouse, I stopped writing things down. On old fashioned paper.  With crude implements of plastic and ink.

It's all in a slim pink box now that I pretty much have to keep on me AT ALL TIMES. I am a slave to the phone and the calendar, the alarms, all the bells and whistles that keep me eternally on call for... something. Everything.

But...I still write things down. As I stated on Facebook yesterday, I keep track of all the books I read in a journal. Made of paper. Using crude implements of plastic and ink. That's not to say Goodreads isn't a useful site, but for me, there's something so important about reading a book, that I have to physically record it.  I keep a Christmas notebook as well. I record gifts given, cards received.  Again, things that need to be memorialized in a tangible way.  Notes of phone conversations, the most ethereal form of communication, litter my desk. Grocery lists are made most every week, on an actual piece of paper.  (Fear not - I do throw these away once the shopping trip is completed.  Although inexplicably I have kept written records of dinners cooked from 2006 to 2010, a history of a time when getting dinner on the table every night, with two children under four, was a feat worthy of a history book.)

As you can probably tell, going to a digital calendar was a pretty big deal for me. I don't think this is a generational thing, either. I see plenty of college students still clinging to paper planners.  There's something about the physical that grounds us.  Holds us to a moment, or a goal.  When our whole life seems lightning fast and uncontrollable, we still have this thing. This book. And it is real. And it confirms that we are doing what we are supposed to be doing. Or it tells us, "hey goofy, get back on track. There's a whole list of to-do's that do not have a check mark next to them."

So I sit on New Year's Day. My planner is next to me. I have bought no new calendar but I have journal pages, for things that I want to still keep solid and real. Things like  a list of books I have read. A packing list for my vacation.  The new addresses of old friends.

2013 was a big year for me. It was the year I went digital... sort of.  I imagine that most people, even when they find themselves in the midst of big changes still find that some things stay the same.  We give up paper calendars... we're still scribbling in a notebook.  We lose twenty pounds... we still battle with holiday sweets.  We sign contracts for multi-book deals... we still find ourselves in pajamas at our computers, living the life of an introverted, insecure writer. 

I may not have a shiny and new paper calendar, but 2014 is still full of possibility.  I know 2014 is going to be full of big, huge, sparkly stuff and probably a lot of pajamas and to-do lists.  And I can't wait.

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