Friday 29 December 2023: The bit in the middle

Image by Almeida from Pixabay

Did you have a lovely Christmas? Ours was very relaxed. We didn’t do any baking, but of course the poet still cooked us a rather splendid Christmas dinner. We had a small family gathering, we didn’t rush around like mad things, and we had a nice rest.

Of course, this doesn’t mean I’ve been completely idle. I’m still ‘on holiday’, but I’ve still been thinking about the new year and planning what I’d like to achieve.

Some big things have fallen by the wayside for next year. These include:

  • the NetGalley reviews
  • Substack
  • PF writing hour on X
  • Diane’s gig list Monday admin
  • Monkey dust weekly admin

The gig list is pretty much out of my remit now, but I still do like to support them by sharing their Thursday posts.

Monkey Dust are cutting their gigs right down. They’re not getting any younger and they’re not travelling as far in 2024. So I won’t have to do admin for them every single Monday. This will instead go down to once a month.

I’ll still try to get through all of the books I currently have from NetGalley, but I won’t be requesting any more. I don’t get paid for the reviews other than a copy of the book and, anyway, authors are increasingly only expecting positive 5-star reviews and they’re flaming anyone who dares to give even 4-star reviews now. I’m far too honest and principled to pander to the divas.

I made three very big decisions over the holiday.

The first was to back off on the short story writing. I’ll still write short stories for 12 Stories in 12 Months as well as any I have to write for workshops and courses. Plus, I still have a quarterly fiction magazine to fill (more on that below). But I won’t be trawling the calls for submissions until I’ve caught up on all of the projects I’ve already started.

Stories I write for workshops or the 12 stories thing (both referred to from here as assignments) will still be considered for submission to the weekly magazines here in the UK, and I’ll use what’s not suitable for the magazines in my own magazine. All of the stories will then go into the machine to be produced as standalones and in collections once they’ve appeared in Words Worth Reading.

The second big decision was to sweep all of the notebooks in my office that don’t relate to a current WIP into a plastic box and put them away until I can give them more time. This task was part of a big shake-up in the office to improve the energy in there. We won’t be swapping the office around with the dining room due to a lack of power outlets in the latter. So instead we had a big tidy-up in the office.

Any other short stories I work on in 2024 will be done with Words Worth Reading in mind. That means I have to write the following in 2024:

  • four new novellas (including The Secret of Whitehorse Farm, which is already well underway)
  • one new novel
  • twelve to sixteen new short stories (three or four per issue), including series (not serial) episodes.

I have three months in between each edition, so I should be able to manage that and, as I say, any assignments will go towards the short stories too.

Alongside these I’ll be writing the next two project management books (Gates 3 and 4) and I’ll be revising the next two diary of… writing guides (Diary of a Cool Cat and Diary of a Tiger). So that’s four new writer’s guides, with each taking no more than three months.

Once I’m finally on top of the work I’ve already started, then I’ll think about adding additional projects to the mix. But for confidence, for motivation, and to actually finish something, I’m cutting right back on everything else.

The third big decision was to get up an hour earlier on work days and add an hour to my working day. I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time but the dog has had other ideas during the night and I’ve not had enough sleep. A lot of the time I can safely ignore the dog, but I do seem to be in a half-sleep while I listen out for any noises he might make.

As far as client work is concerned, I only want to take on one job at a time, and I’ll allocate two hours every day to client work. If I don’t have any client work, then that’s more time to work on mine.

Finally for 2024, aside from any writing workshops, I also want to learn shorthand and brush up on my typing. I’ve mentioned this before, but now I’m hoping the extra hour a day and the smaller workload will help me achieve it.

I’m already much happier working in the office now so much negative energy has been removed, one of which was a full-sized solid-sided bookcase that has been moved to a different part of the room. Now when we step into the office, the room opens out in front of us instead of us walking into the side of this bookcase.

So that’s what I’ve been working on during this bit in the middle. What have you been working on?

2 thoughts on “Friday 29 December 2023: The bit in the middle

  1. Sounds like an excellent plan! Love the graphic on top — I used it in my “Just Jump in and Fly” video and it always makes me laugh. I did my last Substack postt this week, and I’m deleting the account next week, and slowly unsubscribing from all Substack newsletters. Done with them.

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