Monthly Review: October 2017

I spent most of the month sick, so October was kind of a bummer of a month. I participated in Inktober, so I spent a lot of time drawing instead of writing in October. This review completed for Oct 1-27.

Last month’s review.

Play — B

Character design for little mermaid with ink and digital color

  • I took part in Inktober, and although I didn’t draw every day, I drew a lot more than I would have otherwise – including several character designs for my Little Mermaid retelling!
  • We traveled to Iowa for a friend’s medieval / fantasy wedding, and killing time visited a steamboat museum on the Mississippi, which was surprisingly interesting
  • I only read three new books for fun this month – but loved Circuits & Slippers, an anthology of fairy tales retold with a sci-fi twist
  • Spectacular maple specimen at Kubota Garden

    We visited Kubota Garden in Seattle for the first time – the fall color of the maple gardens was beautiful! The garden was a fantastic example of creating beautiful plantings with foliage textures and colors – amazing combination of large trees with smaller trees and shrubs.

After taking the first six months of the year off of Twitter, I’m deeper in than ever before – I spent 17 hours and 30 minutes on Twitter this month :/ I might need to log out of all my devices again. I’m torn because I do get a lot of enjoyment out of Twitter, but it’s also a destination for mindless scrolling that can easily turn into an hour. My need for some mindless time and inability to focus on the long-form storytelling that I usually prefer (novels) might be because I was sick, or might be a sign that I need a break. Hopefully the former because November is NaNoWriMo…

Next month will be a little tricky to make sure I get some play time in, because I’ll be so busy with NaNoWriMo, which in one sense is play but in another is a whole ton of work. I’ll be hosting a weekly writing session at my house for my writing group, which should be fun.

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Monthly Review: September 2017

I spent half the month on vacation, and the rest of the month recovering from vacation and the change in the seasons. It turns out that sleeping on the ground for 9 days in a row is rough on your body in your early thirties ;)

Last month’s review.

Play — A

Stars over the Athabasca River in Jasper National Park

At the beginning of the month, I spent eleven days in Alberta, mostly at Banff and Jasper National Parks. Smoke from this summer’s innumerable fires impacted the vistas, but I had some fun with photography and art anyway :)

  • Watercolor of the Athabasca River and same ridgeline as pictured in the night photo

    Took sunset and star photos (even though it was nearly a full moon) at my campsite in Jasper with a new friend from the neighboring campsite

  • Did a watercolor painting of the Athabasca River, even though I really don’t know how to watercolor
  • Photobombin’ Albertosaurus at the Royal Tyrrell

    Had a blast checking out the dino skeletons and superb displays at the Royal Tyrrell Museum in the Alberta Badlands

  • We took a dorky train tour at an old coal mine in the Alberta Badlands
  • Took texture photographs at Jasper National Park
  • Went to a gin bar and tried some Albertan gins with various tonics – Park Gin was the winner for me

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Monthly Review: August 2017

I’m doing my second monthly review a week early because I’m headed on vacation and won’t have wifi access. So this is for August 1 through August 26. Here’s July’s review, and my thinking behind trying a monthly review.

Creatively Productive

Proof of writing, aka coffee shops I have known

what did I make last month?

  • Total New Novel Words Written: 4,105 (39% fewer than last month)
  • Total Hours Novel Writing (Scrivener): 16 hours 45 minutes (22% less than last month)
  • Total Hours Novel Editing (estimate): 4 hours 45 minutes (same as last month)
  • Wrote a blog post about how much it cost to replace my lawn with a garden
  • Sketched front and profile character designs for the main character in my Little Mermaid comic retelling (last year’s NaNoWriMo project)
  • Sketched a rough mockup for a T-shirt design

I completed novel progress reports for Weeks 1 & 2 and Week 3.

creative work to make in September

I’ll be on vacation for a good portion of September so I’ll get a nice break from writing. I might bring along printed chapters to mark up, but there’s a good chance that I won’t do anything related to my book while I’m away, and that’s fine. It would also be a good opportunity for me to do some outlining for upcoming chapters. Earlier in the year, I was using a chapter worksheet to drill down on each chapter, so I might dig that back out too.

I need to start putting a little more thought into my NaNoWriMo project for this fall. I’m continuing the fairy tale trend and plan to do a retelling of Beauty and the Beast in space.

The next issue of Liminal Stories comes out in October, so I’ll need to illustrate my assigned short story in September.

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Monthly Review: July 2017

I’m trying out a monthly review for the first time.

Creatively Productive

what did I make last month?

  • Total Words Written: 6,676
  • Total Hours Writing (Scrivener): 21 hours 30 minutes
  • Total Hours Editing (estimate): 4 hours 40 minutes

I reached an exciting milestone in my novel revision, wrapping up the first part of the novel.

How I stayed productive on creative goals

I completed weekly novel progress reports for the first three weeks of July: Week 1, Week 2, Week 3

Gaps and Challenges in My Creative Practice

  • The closing of my favorite coffee shop has put a little damper in my writing practice. I’m looking for a replacement that I like. My after-work replacement seems good, but I’m not sold on my new weekly meetup location. 
  • After reaching my milestone, my progress dried up, and I took a full week off from writing. I think I need a better system for setting milestones and creating a workplan with deadlines that I’m accountable to – right now I have the weekly workplan I put together each Sunday for what I hope to accomplish that week, but I don’t have mid-term deadlines for myself.

What to try to produce creative work in august

  • Keep going to my regular writing sessions
  • Try to make a timeline for the entire next part of the book, and a goal for the overall completion
  • Reinstate my daily Pomodoro requirement (at least one 25-minute writing session) Continue reading

Staying on Track with a Monthly Review

I’ve appreciated other people’s monthly reviews, and am going to try out my own to help me stay accountable with my goals other than writing (as well as writing). In the past, I’ve tried to do mid-year or quarterly check-ins on my annual goals, but that feels a bit too intermittent, and easy to forget.

Structuring My Monthly Review

To start, I’m structuring my monthly review based on the priorities I identified for myself in my annual review process:

  • Creatively productive
  • Healthy habits & routines
  • Active lifestyle
  • Comfortable, sustainable home
  • Strategic spending & saving

For each priority area, I’ll assess how I did the previous month with a combination of tracked statistics and narrative evaluation. I’ll discuss my tracking tools and processes, then identify gaps and challenges that are holding me back from meeting my goals. Last, I’ll evaluate what I can do the next month to improve, whether it’s a new tracking method, a new technique to try, or a new habit to develop.

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