Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Surprising Joy of Goal Tracking

I discovered something awesome.

I finally decided to get my act together and use Goodreads more in 2013. I've had an account since 2011, but like many things, it's taken me time to use it well. And I decided, in conjunction with realizing I couldn't let graduate school take over my entire life, that I needed to set a doable reading goal for 2013 and then actually strive to reach it.

I entered the reading challenge, and challenged myself to 36 books: 3 per month (on top of any articles I need to read, beta jobs I do, or academic books I read for my dissertation).

Here's the really surprising part--in 2012, I challenged myself to 35 books, didn't think about what I'd have to do to reach that goal, and didn't do a very good job of using my "currently-reading" shelf. Instead, I tried to input my books when I finished them, and always had a "currently-reading" shelf that was full to bursting with the books  I was "kinda" reading at any given time (you know how it is—the three you set aside, the one you intend to absolutely start...tomorrow...etc.)

I read 5 books. Or at least, I kept track of 5 books.

Fast forward to 2013. 36 books is 3 per month, or about one every 10 days. It means if I read on my commute, I'll do okay. I've cleared my currently-reading shelf to only what I'm actively reading every single day—one or two books, max. Every time I stop reading a book, I make a progress update, so that I can see the bar inching closer and closer to 100% on any given title.

And I'm 4 books ahead of schedule. I've read 12 books so far this year, and beta read a thirteenth.

Tracking, it turns out, is fun. It's why NaNoWriMo is so much more fun than drafting a novel by yourself, and why such a greater percentage of NaNo writers finish their goal versus those who just say, "Oh, I'm going to write a novel." Seeing that little bar inch forward toward your goal is heartening, and fun, and the added competition aspect of NaNoWriMo puts people even more in the "must get it done" mindset. Like I do when I'm writing a NaNo novel, I find myself checking my GR progress every time I click "finished" on a book.  Seeing the progress toward the goal is fueling me to do whatever I can to achieve it, and I'm having a blast.

Meanwhile I fully intended to enter WriteOnCon's Pitch Fest this week, with my rewrite. But I missed the deadline of finishing my rewrite by a HUGE margin. But now, armed with this knowledge, of just exactly how well the Goodreads challenge is working, I know I need to start tracking what I'm doing so I can see my own progress as I go. I've started with 750words, a website where you commit to writing 750 words each day. Every day I do it, a green "X" appears on the date, and every day I don't, the box stays white. It hasn't been perfect, but it does up the pain threshold for the days that I don't get my little green X.

So...onward! Toward my goals...but with tracking.

Do you track your writing goals? Publicly? Privately? Any cool tools I should be aware of?

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Using Google Reader to Organize Your Blogs, Part 2

Always my luck, the week I decide to blog about using gReader, google goes and decides to shutter it.  (makes blushy face) That said, I'm going to keep this post, because gReader isn't going away until July 1, the A-Z challenge is happening before then, and I still think gReader is one of the easiest readers to learn to use. (Here is the part where you can tell I'm a teacher.) Also, if you find you like Google Reader, feedly (recced by iamfantastikate in the previous post) will be providing a seamless transition to Google reader customers. Something  to check out!

Last time I talked about how to add feeds to your reader (and it works about the same in most readers.) But if you're like most writer-bloggers or book bloggers, you probably have dozens, if not hundreds of blogs you'd like to follow. Now what?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Using Google Reader to Organize Your Blogs, Part 1

So against my better judgment (I listened to the devil on the shoulder screaming, "Fun!") I'm participating in the A-Z Challenge  next month. I can't wait to meet lots of new bloggers. Anyway, as I was gearing up for it and excitedly adding new blogs to my feed, I realized...I know plenty of people who don't use a feed reader, and don't know how. So I'm posting two blogs this week about my preferred feed reader, Google Reader, and how to use it to maximize your ability to surf for other peoples' fabulous blog posts.

Whether you're participating in A-Z, or just want a good way to wrangle all your friends' posts, check out what's below.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Liebster Award 2013

As I mentioned yesterday, I used to try to crawl into a hole when someone was sweet enough to nominate me for a blog award. Who wants to listen to me answer questions? But now I know better, and moreover, even if you think my answers are boring, I have people I want *you* to meet.

So I thank KS Collier for nominating me for the Liebster award, and I’m also going to tag back Tricia Clasen, who tagged me for the same award awhile back and was very gracious about the fact that I crawled into a hole.

Here’s a bit more about Liebster:

Liebster Award Rules:

1. Thank the blogger who presented you with the Liebster Award, and link back to his or her blog.

2. Answer the 11 questions from the nominator; list 11 random facts about yourself, and create 11 questions for your nominees.

3. Present the Liebster Award to 11 bloggers, who have blogs with 200 followers or less, whom you feel deserve to be noticed. Leave a comment on the blogs letting the owners know they have been chosen. (No tag backs.)

4. Upload the Liebster Award image to your blog.

So without further adieu, my answers, my facts, and my questions.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

B is for Blog Hops—the A-Z Blog Challenge

One thing I was completely unprepared for in the blogosphere was the plethora of contests, awards, and hops. And the ways in which those things allow us to meet all sorts of other wonderful people along the way. See, I’m the shyest extrovert I know—the idea of speaking in front of 25,000 people doesn’t faze me in the least (and I’ve done it), but tagging someone I don’t know on a blog hop? That makes me break out in cold sweats and want to crawl into a hole.

But guess what? Turns out I have nothing to be shy about. I blogged last year about learning that all of this is about first and foremost, making friends. And I like making friends.

So....I’m participating this year in the A-Z blog hop. If you don’t know what that is, it’s a challenge where during the month of April, bloggers blog short posts on a myriad of topics, but all linked via blogging straight through the alphabet. So “A” might be for “agents” on a writer blog, or for “apple pie” on a food blog. Last year, I saw a lot of people participating in my feed, and it looked like fun. It’s going to be crazy, given that I’m teaching and trying to make waves on my dissertation, but a challenge isn’t a challenge if it’s not challenging, right? To learn more, head on over to A-Z Challenge, where you’ll see the full linky of all those participating. It looks like we’ll be numbering well over 1,000, with bloggers of all different ilk. You’ll find the link in my badge over here, as well.

I’m looking forward to meeting as many A-Z bloggers, especially writer bloggers, as I can during the month of April, and hope those who drop by here enjoy the ride!

Meanwhile, all of us are starting to visit each other, and so, I find myself once again being nommed for a blog award. As it turns out, blog awards aren’t something to crawl into a hole about—they’re another way to make friends and to introduce some friends to our other friends. So stop by tomorrow for my thanks to KS Collier for nominating me for the Liebster Award, my answer to her questions, and my eleven friends I’d like to introduce you to!

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Ugly Disasters in the Blogosphere

I'm going to be a bit more...serious...today. And long-winded, sorry. I suppose I'm serious most days. I'm a person who chose a career that involves long amounts of time in library carrels coding data, so try as I might, I find my blog persona is my persona. And my persona is one that tends to mull over publishing industry issues, because these are the things that my brain finds fun.

So I want to talk about something I saw over the last two days that really concerns me on a number of levels. I am not going to link, except to the books themselves and the authors' original posts, because I'm questioning a problematic practice in the blogosphere. As such, I'm not interested in pointing fingers at any one particular blogger, in part because as you'll read below, I do understand where they're coming from.

Here's the story, and why it concerns me, and why I think the real issue isn't what everyone is blogging about.

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