New and Updated Website at DWHirsch.com

May 17, 2016

Hello everyone!

You may have noticed a lack of posts–or you haven’t because I haven’t written anything here to notify you of. The reason? I have moved my WolfHowlings blog over to a self-hosted site:

DWHirsch.com

At this time, this blog will stay open as a static history of me and all of you. I am posting new content at my other blog, and I will get in touch with all of you, my dedicated subscribers, to let you personally know of this change. This was a decision a long time in the making–and a difficult task in the transition. More on that there. The new site is still under construction, and sporatic updates will be posted here.

Come join the fun: all this site had to offer and MORE!!

I look forward to seeing you there.

My final #ROW80 Round 1 reflections and suggestions

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.”~Winston Churchill, English statesman

A Round of Words in 80 Days. The challenge is detailed here on the #ROW80 blog for all writers, bloggers, artists and whomever has large goals to achieve. This is done four times a year, with Round 1 ending today. This is a summary of my accomplishments–or nots–so you can read my original post HERE.

Which brings me back to A Round of Words in 80 Days. By the end of the first quarter–or ROW80 Round 1 dates of January 4-March 24, 2016–these are my ROW80 Round 1 goals:

HERE ARE MY RESULTS for the first Quarter of 2016:

1–Polish and publish Jimmy the Burglar: Thief of Socks.
NO
There’s no excuse: I got distracted, I put other things first; I was intimidated with a fuller-length fiction story…you name it. I could’ve made the time–I had the time–but I didn’t. This is something to roll over to Round 2, for sure.

2–Find and do a blog self-hosting site. 
YES–or at least almost; it’s in progress. I’m just waiting on the final domain name transfer. Have you ever done this? It’s simple yet surprisingly complex. I’ll share my thoughts in future posts, an education I wish someone had walked me thru.

3–Blog planning.
MAYBE
It’s something I’m working on.  I blocked off days to post my Haiku Horizon posts, for example, and some days I met them; some days, the post moved; some weeks I never wrote or published the post.  “Publishing” a post is the key.  Here’s the scary thing: I looked back at my “drafts” folder here on WordPress to see what I could reuse or update.

I had drafts there of 2011 posts.
What the *bleep* happened?!?

The list of 207 drafts includes ideas I was tweaking and blog posts I didn’t finish. This was most likely due to interrupted writing time. Now that I have set aside dedicated writing times, I can take these good, mostly-finished posts and complete them. Or not. Several things I’ve learned from this part of the #ROW80 challenge:

–I’m a good writer.
–I need to Keep Up.

Seeing this shocking revelation can help me blog-plan–I feel it!–but I’m not sure how to translate the feeling, this newfound confidence or whatever it is, into something practical.

3A-The Blog Planning goal included scheduling social media.
NO
This goes back to blog planning: what do I want my Twitter; Instagram accounts to achieve? What do I expect from my Facebook and Amazon Author Pages? A great idea came from a blog and Instagram accountabout defining yourself and your audience. Hers captured what I think I want: “people like me who read any books and all subjects, like to read YA and other subjects.” She has a bookstagram acct–I’ll detail that later–but it made me think about my mission statement, and maybe that will be a #ROW80 goal next round.

Back to social media, I need to see how that fits into my life. I’ve got the writing planning down with carved out spaces in my days week to do it, so work in these other tasks.

4–Update my blog: About Me, Resources and other tabs.
NO
Sounds like a copout excuse, but without defining “me” I can’t update my site to reflect that. Self-host and getting rid of the “wordpress” in website address was Step 1, so this is manageable. It still feels like playing, not actual working, and not sure how to let that go in myself

5–Fractured finger, heal thyself.
YES
Or so I think. Weds, April 20 is perhaps final-final appt. It’s haealed or healing it feels like it has movement most days, but doc sayas it may take a year or more to fully heal. Will it ever fully heal?

6–Make progress on memoir My Father, My Friend.
NO
And I feel like a total failure for that (also see #1 above)
I have writing time carved out. But I’ve let other things take over my time, ironically blog planning (see #3 above) has been a factor in this. Balance–need to achieve that.

7–Make time to play.
YES
I scrapbook old photos, doing that dreaded word scrapbookers quiver at: “catch up” That’s okay; I’m overwhelmed with past projects and layouts, but any progress is a step forward. I’ve scrapbooked with a friend of mine, and I rediscovered joy in playing with paper. I’ve stepped back a bit from ATCs and altered art; I’m not feeling that vibe now, but that may be a break I need. Writing and all that goes along with it (see #1, 3, 4, 6 above)

8–Do some fun writing.
YES
A bit. I wrote a fiction short story I began for Storytime Friday over on A Life Among the Pages and never finished. I’m still not done, but I had fun traversing along the world my mad, mad, mad, mad mind created.

In closing, my thoughts in review:
–I need to manage my time, but I know I can.
–I need to re-read my notes from Rochester Writers Fall Conference and review how the romance author publishes four books a year. She has a schedule, and that’s what I based Jimmy the Burglar: Thief of Socks goal on.
–This has been a gentle, and not so gentle, slap in the face of how I’m using my time.

Let’s see how I revise all this for Round 2. If you’ve participated, let me know how your goals went and your thoughts on the challenge.

What makes someone successful?

“Success is a state of mind. If you want success, start thinking of yourself as a success.”~Joyce Brothers, American psychologist

Success is a scary word. If we say we are successful, others may perceive us of bragging. I am superior and you, failing human, are worthless. If we say we are unsuccessful, then we start to shovel ourselves into that six-foot-deep pit.

Some days I’m one; some days I’m the other. Some days I’m both.

One thing that has gone well so far is my instant social media response time. I need to come up with a catchy acronym for that so it makes the process more fun. Aside from email and Facebook, all is going well. My Grand Experiment from this post seems to fit into my style of interaction and planning.

How’s my ROW80 going? Let’s take a look at that:

1–Polish and publish Jimmy the Burglar: Thief of Socks. Not as much progress as I’d hoped for–really, this was supposed to be a quick little piece–but I did share part of Chapter 1 with my Writer’s Group. The feedback was just the critique I needed to move forward. I did a smidge of editing on Friday, but there were a lot of distractions that day.

2–Find and do a blog self-hosting site. Nope, not yet. This To-Do action item keeps getting moved from week to week. I think breaking it down into smaller actions will help. This week’s goal is to explore at least two hosting sites for info about their price and services.

3–Blog and social media planning. I’m doing a little with action sheets and making notes, but this is ongoing. I’m not sure where I want to go on with this.

4–Update my blog pages/site. I’ll save this until I finish the blog self-hosting goal.

5–Fractured finger, heal thyself. Doctor visit this week. I think I’m remarkably flexible, but we’ll see how he says I’m doing.

6–Make progress on memoir My Father, My Friend using Scrivener. First step needs to be resolving my supposed Scrivener problem, and I have yet to deal with that email. It’s probably a 5-minute fix, but it shifts on my To-Do as well.

7–Make time to play. This is the reason I was so lazy and unproductive with my writing and blogging and planning this week. I scrapbooked a few pages in my Happy Planner and obsessed over colors and styles while I watched insanely detailed YouTube videos on it. Just for fun.

8–Do some fun writing. See above.

What makes a success a success? What makes a failure a failure? It is all a state of mind.

A #WeekendCoffeeShare where I discuss my #ROW80 goals

If we were having coffee…

I know, right, three coffee shops to get this right? That first place we tried was just blah. The owner is usually friendlier, but not today. We were almost chased out of the Bookstore Café. If we hadn’t been leaving, we might have been, except I did have a blueberry green tea.

This Starbucks is rather nice.  The chatty baristas just now brightened my day.  Now I feel better.

[My husband is with us and he nods]

Northville is a bit out of our way, but I love the second floor balcony here. This is the first time I’ve ever seen the fireplace on. It’s usually an iceberg in here–one of the reasons my husband and I don’t make it here often–so this is a cool change of pace. It’s a Clover location, so this is always a treat for us coming here. The Nicaragua, that’s my current fave. Smooth and earthy, not flowery or acidic like all those bright summery coffees. If this is the best thing to come with last week’s snow storms, then Yay.

Are you on Twitter much? [Husband sitting next to us sighs, sips his coffee and pulls out his phone] Oh, shoo. I discovered new communities of writers through Twitter chats. There’s so many out there, you gotta check them out. [Turns to husband] Hey, you were out of town this week.

“Yeah, but I brought you home socks,” he says.

Yep, that’s true. Thank you. [Leans over with a kiss on his cheek]

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I’ve been using my Happy Planner to plan out some things for my blog, for my writing. Just last night while I was surfing Instagram, I discovered yet another subculture called Bullet Journaling. I spent waaaaay too much time last night watching YouTube videos, but I found one or two tips I can try out in my evolving system. In fact, thanks to that planner, I have a reminder to update my #ROW80 project goals.

1–Polish and publish Jimmy the Burglar: Thief of Socks. I typed in my latest edits, and that’s as far as I’ve gotten. I’m enjoying my blogging way too much to focus on that, at least last week.

2–Find and do a blog self-hosting site. I now have four leads to check out, all recommended for different reasons. Maybe tomorrow or Wednesday during my reserved writing times I’ll take a pop on over to those sites, maybe just two to start with.

3–Blog and social media planning.
Yep! Success! I’m using my Happy Planner–gosh how I love that, playing with paper and feeling productive!–and developing a schedule. I did create a page for stats across all platforms, and the Followers and Likes is both impressive and not so. It’s hard not to compare others’ perceived successes with mine

4–Update my blog pages/site. Uhhhh…not so much. I’ll have to find time and schedule that in.

5–Fractured finger, heal thyself. Look! Look at this! I bend this much now [holds right forefinger up]. It bends so much, I can almost touch my finger together, which is where the doc wants me to be. But it frustrates me; it’s still swollen, and I think that’s why I can’t bend it all the way. I have an appointment at the end of the month, so we’ll see then.

6–Make progress on memoir My Father, My Friend using Scrivener. Nope. I’ve been working on all this other stuff. Prioritizing? Procrastinating? It’s hard to tell which sometimes.

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7–Make time to play. Yeah, I kinda am. I have reached a point where I am exploding to read a book–and I know which one–but I never sit down and make it happen.

8–Do some fun writing. Whatever that is. Hmmmmm…does Twitter count? What about Instagram captions?

I started a new journal yesterday. It’s a Hello Kitty Moleskine, an exclusive collector edition or something. I bought it at a Chapters bookstore in Windsor, Canada last summer. It’s one of those too-nice-to-use things, but I ripped off the plastic, took the cute bookmarks out of the back pocket, and wrote my first entry in a green pen. You should always have colored ink pens in every bag or purse you carry. Never be without a rainbow.

Are you keepin’ it real today?

“With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.”~Eleanor Roosevelt, American First Lady

It’s only 1:36pm as of this writing, and I already want to file today in the Let Me Forget pile.

Yes, feelings are real, and as crappy as they may be right now, I’m embracing them. Heck, makes me want to break out Jimmy The Burglar: Thief of Socks and give him a cranky day. Not counting the day after he robs the sock boutique, that is. Some days I eat my emotions; today, I want to write them.

Read any motivational quote and you’ll get some version of “without bad days we’d never know good days.” Why can’t I just have all good days? I recognize them, trust me, I will. I’d appreciate good days because I’d always be in a good mood. Others might say, but where’s the drama in that?

Some days I don’t want to be a TNT commercial.

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But really, what’s real? It’s whatever we give ourselves over to, actually real or not. It’s the beauty of immersing ourselves in books. Of creating worlds. Of soaking into a deep movie. If we believe, then for that while and maybe a little time after, it’s real.

Right now, my coffee is cold, so it’s time for a second cup. I really need that, especially since the Starbucks I’m in just got chilly. Really chilly. So it’s really time for that Clover brew.

If you’re having a real day, share a comment with me. If you’re not having a real day, commiserate with me. Either way, we’ll share strength together. And coffee. Or tea; your choice of beverage.

Let’s try this #ROW80 thing again

“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.”~Ralph Waldo Emerson, American poet

It’s that time of year for resolution and Round of Words.

I didn’t keep up with ROW80 much last round. It seemed like a good idea, all that accountability, but I’ve set goals on so many sites that it was hard to remember to follow up and post there. Now it’s a new year and I’m still anti-Resolution, so you wont see any of that nonsense here. Goals, however, are a different matter….

My Detroit writers group, Motown Writers Network, starts each monthly meeting with a recap and projection of everyone’s 30-Day Challenge. Smaller bites, easier chunks, and three 30-Days equals one ROW80.

My next MWN meeting is this Saturday, January 9th. Pulling out my journal, my December goals were:

1–Publish Jimmy the Burglar: Thief of Socks.
2–New business cards
3A–Blog planning
3B–Blog self-hosting
4–Memoir/Scrivener
5–Heal fractured finger
6–Read blogs

These are my results:
1–Jimmy is not published. It’s just as well; I had enough activity in December with Christmas, holiday plans, and visiting family. As family members get older, spending time with them is not sacrificing writing. But it’s a NaNoWriMo story that I’m actually working towards completion, and I have a solid rough 2nd draft at the moment. I consider that success.

2–I still have old biz cards, and I have no idea what I want new ones to look like. It’s a rebranding of me, and something I will get to later in the year. I have other things to set in place first…like…

3A–YES! I am developing a system of blog planning, writing down a schedule and ideas and all that. Yes, I am all that, and more. It’s a work in progress, but I’ve started it. I expect by the end first quarter, I’ll have a good schedule to work from.

3B–I lumped this in with 3A initially, but it really is a separate step. It’s probably really simple, but it’s unknown; therefore, I have postponed it.

4–Laziness = No. The holidays are over, no travel or big projects loom ahead, so now it’s time to read the email and fix what I may or may not have screwed up back in September.

5–YES, mostly. I’m exercising the muscles, I have a lot more motion, but the swelling is still there. I’ll keep this on my list because it is ongoing.

6–No. This is now part of #3A. My “blog planning” includes social media activity, and I’m fitting that into my schedule slowly. I’ve caught up; now the goal is to maintain.

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How could I NOT buy this eternal shirt?

Which brings me back to A Round of Words in 80 Days. By the end of the first quarter–or ROW80 Round 1 dates of January 4-March 24, 2016–these are my ROW80 Round 1 goals:

1–Polish and publish Jimmy the Burglar: Thief of Socks. Possibly I’ll find an editor along the way.
2–Find and do a blog self-hosting site. Two folks from my critique group, Deadwood Writers, have offered assistance. Just sit down with them or read their emails and as the shoe company says, just do it.
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3–Blog planning. Besides planning and drafting posts, this includes developing a regular schedule for:
…..3A–Twitter
…..3B–Instagram
…..3C–Facebook Author Page (shudder; I dislike FB)
…..3D–Amazon Author Page
…..3E–Reading more blogs
4–Update my blog: About Me; Resources; all that and any new tabs. This may be ongoing, but start somewhere, woman!
5–Fractured finger, heal thyself.
6–Make progress on memoir My Father, My Friend using Scrivener. What do I define as “progress?” I’m breaking the rules here, but I’m leaving that vague for now. Anything I do is more than I’ve done at this moment of typing.
7–Make time to play. Be it scrapbooking, playing in my blog-planning planner, mixed-media art, massages, whatever…make time for me.
8–Do some fun writing. Whatever that is!

Let’s start there and see where the first quarter takes me. What about you? Where is your first 3 months taking you…or where are you taking your first 3 months?

A new year, a new #WeekendCoffeeShare

If we were having coffee…

It’s kinda nice to get out of the house, isn’t it?

Yeah, it’s not like I’ve been cooped up all week–far from it!–but sitting in this Starbucks gives us some space to spread out. Too bad that local coffee shop in Maple Glen closed. It was charming. They started a tab for me the last time I was there. How cool was that? How dangerous was that? I wanted to show my husband, but alas. I was hoping we’d meet there, too, but this is the best we’ve got at 6:12pm.

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Happy New Year in Philly

Happy New Year! How did you spend yours? My husband and I were crossing the highway hand-in-hand when everyone tooted horns and yelled out windows. We made it to Sugarbush Casino to see the fireworks over Philadelphia. Much warmer than last year, and this spot in Philly is easier to get to. Maybe you’ll be in town to join us?

My gosh, a worldwind week: shopping in New York City; train ride from New Jersey; craft stores in North Wales here; mall shopping at King of Prussia and here in Montgomery Mall; coffee shops everywhere; and so much more. The weather was great all week.

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Believe in the magic of Christmas and window displays

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Celebrating in the City and beyond

It was in the 40s when we were in the City, perfect for walking around. Times Square was the most crowded, maybe because some streets were already blocked off for the ball drop the next day. The Macy’s window displays were creative. The bookish geek in me adored the Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus display, but the Charlie Brown animatronic windows were divoon. My favorite was the Red Baron one with Snoopy decorating his dog house in lights then taking off into the sky among fireworks. The way the curtain of clouds revealed the story made everyone gasp.

We found some fun Starbucks Christmas tree ornaments and exclusive Times Square mugs. It rained only as we got to Penn Station for the train home, and of course we got roasted nuts. No trip to the City is complete without nuts.
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The Penn State bowl game yesterday was a loss, but it wasn’t. My husband and I watched the game with the Montco Penn State Alumni Chapter. They hosted it at a bar and provided free appetizers. The final score was 24-17 Georgia, but our team came back with two 4th quarter touchdowns to make it a game at the end. It all came down to the last play of the game, and it was a real effort. No one gave up, and we don’t feel bad about the outcome. Okay, we hoped they would win, but the soul and the spirit that the players showed was enough for me to feel proud about it all.

I did get some writing done, as well as some writing organization. I didn’t touch Jimmy the Burglar: Thief of Socks once I chose not to publish by December 31, but I did some blogging, some planning for blog and writing time, and I’m catching up on my much-neglected social media.

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Lucky the puppy flops on the stairs waiting for head and tummy scritches

It’s strange that people are going back to work tomorrow, but we’re still on vacation until Wednesday. Not that I mind. It’s been nice visiting with my in-laws and the puppy. Eat, nap, scratch, eat, sleep…oh, the life of a dog. I feel like that today since I’m sleeping in tomorrow.
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Did you make any New Year’s resolutions? I haven’t, and I don’t intend to. It’s complicated but really simple: I don’t want the pressure. I’m being kind to myself that way, but that’s why this whole writing-planning thing is important. I’m setting goals and striving towards them, which is different than “resolutions.”

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Together time: he whooped my butt in air hockey

It’s been all about food. There was brunch last Sunday, pizza from another delicious hole-in-the-strip-mall Italian restaurant here, more pizza in the City, homemade lasagna, Wawa subs and…. Let me say that I’m looking forward to getting home if only to eat “normal” food and exercise on my WiiFit.

It’s really been all about family. And the puppy. My husband and I had together time, we talked with his folks around the dinner table a few nights, we played with the puppy, stuff like that. His folks are getting older, so it’s good that we make these times to be together. Make no mistake, I wasted many hours playing games on my phone and watching YouTube videos, but we were here in the house with them. Sometimes just being is enough.

Care for more coffee or tea? There’s free in-store refills for Starbucks Gold Card members, and I have yet to hear what you’ve been up to. How was your week?

A #WeekendCoffeeShare about Christmas, writing and out-of-town family

If we were having coffee…

It’s nice here, isn’t it?

My in-laws take us out for brunch every year at the William Penn Inn here in…is this Lansdale? Chalfont? North Wales? Oh, I always forget the town, but I do remember the food. And the family. This year it’s just the four of us, and you, of course.

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I thought I’d be too tired to eat after the drive yesterday. My husband drove this time, and I was surprisingly awake most of the way, just dozing a bit through central PA. Going across I-80 instead of the turnpike saved us about $37–one way! We’re going back that way for sure, but not for another week. We’ve got all sorts of plans: shopping, the City, of course more puppy time, maybe even a movie.

My husband was on vaca all last week. Me, I finished up work and still spent Christmas Eve finishing wrapping presents. Of course, we saw the Star Wars movie on Christmas Eve Day, and it was as good as all the hype. Are you one of those last minute gift-wrappers, too? No matter what I do or how I plan…. Well, the movie was worth it, as well as the writing.

Oh, didn’t I tell you? I planned to make some progress on my latest Jimmy the Burglar book, and I accomplished that in a solid rough-sloppy second draft. I threw in an additional conflict and tied in this one sock element with a new twist. I feel so clever! I’m having fun writing this book, and I’m working this week to get Jimmy out into the world by Dec 31st so I have a book to enter in the NFPW contest.

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It’s not as crowded in here today as past years. It’s still festive with the green trees and white lights and red ribbons. White tablecloths and flowers on the table make this feel so casual while being formal. The food’s just as good–are you getting seconds? I am. The eggs, French toast and hand-carved ham are especially good today. The Peach Nectar Ambrosia is quite good; I’ve never had champagne with breakfast, but I’m feeling festive.

I’m going to get a sampling of desserts? Want some? Be sure to ask for another refill of coffee. I want to hear about your week.

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Writing tools that are practical and fun to use

“You can’t blame gravity for falling in love.”~Albert Einstein, German physicist

The only reason I completed NaNoWriMo this year was with the incentive of buying myself The Big Reward.

Material goods are great motivators, and if self-bribery helps you write, go for it!  It was mid-November, and I was watching Instagram-inspired YouTube videos rather than writing my NaNoWriMo novel.  You see, I’d stumbled upon photos of this sub-culture in the crafting community who were scrapbooking in monthly day planners.  Yes, that old school paper date planner that 10 years ago you could only buy in office supply stores.

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I used paper planners ever since college when I needed a paper datebook to keep track of my exams and projects and parties.  Flash forward to 2010, the time when I was using my smartphone’s calendar to record my dentist braces appointments as well as in my datebook paper.  The duplication was annoying and time consuming.  My husband wondered why I was doing this  because, outside of his work, he’d made the seamless switch to smartphone calendar.  It took me months of me guiltily leaving my paper datebook in my bag before I was comfortable scheduling appointments on my phone.  Soon the paper was obsolete, a perfect analogy to print books and paper in general.

Back to the Big Reward.  I saw some planners in person when I bought my annual 8″x 8″ scrapbook calendar Christmas gift for my husband.  A woman browsing the same aisle was looking at planner tools and inserts.  We talked about the madness and the desire, just as any scrapbooker has with paper and stickers.  I left the store with the thought, I have to get one.

While I continued procrastinating Nano anyway I could, I stumbled across a YouTube channel of someone using her planner to plan her social media life:  blog posts, YouTube videos, Twitter schedule and more. Here was justification: I could make a practical use of a planner.

There were other synergistic activities occurring in my life–thoughts I’ll share in future posts–that made a planner play-full and now practical.

But this obsession meant more procrastination which I could not word-ly afford.  So I bartered with myself: I can buy myself one only if I successfully complete NaNoWriMo.  I learned that I can write 5000+ words a day, and that was how I succeeded writing 50,721 words in 16 days.

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It was eye-opening and inspiring to see that I could do that.  I had the time if I made the time.  It encouraged me, especially since I fished a 25,000-ish word story out of my misplelled NaNoNonsense: Jimmy the Burglar: Thief of Socks.  The subject and storyline was inspired by my original Story Cubes set as well as conversations I’ve had on Instagram.  I am working towards publishing this by the end of the year.  Now, thanks to my Happy Planner, I have a plan.  I’ve blocked off specific days and times to write or complete specific tasks.  Having them written down helps me see what I need to do and what I have completed.  I also put some social activities in there; it’s never too late to have a party.  It’s satisfying and more encouraging to see check marks in my to-do boxes.

If you’re planning a writing goal for 2016, be sure to plan your own Big Reward for success.  I’m excited to see how this helps move me forward.

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