Thursday, December 22, 2011


Current Project: LEGACY series
Status: Editing fourth book
Posted by: Genene Valleau, writing as Genie Gabriel

If distractions are pulling you under for the third time, Paty's post yesterday has some great advice: focus and limit. 

FOCUS your attention on what you want to get done and LIMIT the time available for what distracts you. 
Of course, this might not work as well if your "distractions" are small children or dependent family members. :)

With this post, I'm going one step further than Paty's advice and show you a tool I use to be productive: my "to do" list that grew into a database. 

If your eyes are rolling back in your head because you don't even write a grocery list, I'll just say Happy Holidays before you quit reading. :)

However, if you're detail oriented or would like to get more organized, this might help. As always, please feel free to adapt the pieces that are helpful and ignore the rest. 

First, a bit of background. I've been working on my LEGACY series of at least nine books for several years. I knew I wanted them released close together so people didn't forget about them or grow tired of waiting for the next book. In addition to having most of the writing done on these books, it meant a steady stream of promotion. 

I wasn't going to have time for tempting distractions, and I wasn't going to drive myself into exhaustion like I'd seen a number of authors do when promoting their books. 

I had the opportunity to practice writing and promoting at the same time when my first three books were re-issued two weeks apart. A good promotion move, but a bit of a shock to me, as I'd been out of the promotion game for most of the past two years. 

But I lined up some blog stops and signed up to be part of an online party that ran for four days, 24 hours a day. I set up a database to keep me on task. When were my blog posts due? What day was I blogging so I could be available to respond to comments? And was it time to feed my doggies yet? Yes, "real life" does continue with all its expectations even though you're writing and promoting.

I set up a database so I didn't forget any blogging dates. It was really very simple. Just a few headings with the info for each blog filled in below. (You probably can't read these unless you magnify your screen view a lot, but hopefully this will give you a general idea of how I set up my database. And it doesn't have to be complex. Mine has a lot on it because I have a lot going on right now.)

I was delighted when I realized this database was keeping me on track. 

Soon other projects ended up on the database. Then important family events that would take a chunk of time out of my day. Now, most of my life is on the database. If it's not on the database, it probably won't get done. LOL!

Of course, color crept in. Pale green to separate the weeks. Then purple to separate each day. Big projects had their own color. Urgent pieces to do were highlighted in bright pink. Projects waiting for someone to get back to me were pale yellow. 

A bonus is I've been moving completed projects to the end of the database, so if I ever wonder how I'm spending my time, I can look at that list and know I'm being productive.

This level of organization isn't for everyone. However, if you sometimes feel overwhelmed and need some help focusing, a database could help you empty your head of all the competing ideas and look at one day at a time. Instead of feeling overwhelmed and giving in to distractions, be productive and reward yourself by allowing some time for a bright, shiny distraction!

And if you made it all the way to the end of this blog post, I'd love to hear what your favorite distraction is. Go ahead--indulge!


Paty Jager said...

Your database overwhelms me more than my jotted down lists on envelopes, scratch pads, magazine margins. ;)

I'm glad you've found something that works and I'm sure there are like minded writers out there who can use your system and have success.

Merry Christmas!

Genene Valleau, writing as Genie Gabriel said...

LOL, Paty! Well, I did include a warning at the beginning of this post. :)

I realized when my jotted notes were buried among towering stacks of other notes that I needed a different system. So the database was born out of desperation. Now I need to clean up those towering stacks like Debbie did with her office.

Happy holidays and happy writing to all!