Transferred recurring expenses from last year’s writing expenses to the new spreadsheet.
Entered January 1st car mileage (same as year-end mileage for 2020).
A simple “save as” since I have a template that has my recurring payments.
Then, updated others with new tabs for 2021:
Instructional spreadsheet where I enter student lessons.
Google drive sheet for our online critique group schedule—we have a moderator each week and keep track of which two writers are presenting a manuscript.
These processes take an hour or two.
*The categories on Writing Expenses’ spreadsheet are:
expense item (event, address; postage to submit manuscript, etc.)
agent/publisher/magazine (and those extra details, if needed, such as to whom)
other car expenses (tolls or parking fees)
advertising (website hosting, domain renewal)
office supplies (those things you need to run a home office: paper, printer ink, etc.)
travel (airfare, taxis, hotel)
meals (while traveling–only a portion is deductible)
misc (where I put conference fees)
I have a worksheet for each month with a year-end sheet that pulls the totals from each month and gives me a grand total.
**The categories on Writing Income are:
payment from whom or what:
magazine and online articles/stories
I have my spreadsheet set up to auto total all the amounts.
Time to double check the old year’s record keeping.
For me, I have to print out the expense and income spreadsheets to make sure that every entry has an amount (money or mileage as appropriate). I always find a few errors. Once they are all corrected, the reprinted sheets are stapled together by category so when all the other tax documents come in, we’re ready to do our taxes.
Depending how accurately I’ve kept records, this probably takes a couple hours.
I find this pre-work makes my record keeping easier and quicker.
In response to questions on KIDLIT411 (a Facebook group), I offered a free Zoom meeting today. About nine or ten writers participated and we spent about an hour together.
Getting ready for it–using a list of questions some had–I realized I’d done a live talk on a similar topic for SCBWI Oregon back in 2019. So, I took the PowerPoint from that, did some rearranging, and had a presentation.
My plan had been to record the Zoom meeting. I was almost done talking when I realized, I’d never pushed start record. Arghh. Next time I need a sign that says START RECORD right in front of me!
Since I can’t share the recording as planned, my husband reminded me I could convert the PPT presentation as a pdf. Wise man. Except it was too huge. He suggested we try google slides–it cut off some of my text. So, instead I chose outline view in PPT and copied the text of my slides and answered some extra questions I was asked:
ORGANIZING RESEARCH PROCESS
Keep track of those you are interested in!
You can do…
A Word document
A Word table
An Excel spreadsheet
Each tab a different agent (editor) and paste all your info including links
A pen and paper notebook
What info you may want to keep
Email or link to submission form
usually forms are through agency—sometimes query manager
Personal blog link
Where you found them…
What they want to see, such as …
Query or cover letter
Full manuscript, first ten pages, first 50 pages, first chapter
Synopsis – one page, brief, or …
How they want it sent – email (attached or not–usually pasted in) or form (with link)
Someone else mentioned Jessica Faust and James McGowan at Book Ends Literary
How much time do you spend writing versus doing writing business?
It depends on what’s going on in my world. I don’t know how to quantify it either. When I’m burnt out on writing, I might go catch up reading newsletters, research agents, submitting. It varies week to week. I also do the latter when the in box gets too full! 😉
Is there a list of good agents versus bad? No. It’s too subjective.
What about Query Tracker? I’ve not used it. Developed my process before it existed.
I hope this is helpful to those who couldn’t attend.
Yesterday, a student who deals with depression and anxiety
and, like all of us, now this pandemic, said that looking at the instruction
manual felt overwhelming. Yet still she had sent in her assignment. In my
letter back to her, I commended her for her accomplishment and then gave her some
writing “work” advice.
Writing it made me aware of my own creativity. Or should I
say lack thereof. I’m finding it much
easier to do a student lesson, critique someone else’s picture book or novel,
than to actually create myself. It’s easy to jump on the news, Facebook (for
socializing), etc. I need to take my own advice.
We all have upheaval in our lives right now with social
distancing and worrying about the coronavirus. Some of you have children home
full time now. You and/or your spouse may be working from home which is another
adjustment. Or someone in the family has been laid off. It’s stressful. Perhaps
these suggestions for making writing “work” easier will be helpful to you, too.
First, pick one task
Get that one done today and stop. Don’t worry about other writing
things that need to be done. However, if doing one tasks leads you to wanting
to do more, feel free. Just don’t agonize over those days when you can only do
But how do you know what task to do?
Set yourself a writing work schedule
1. Start by making a list of all the things you want to get done: – read recent children’s books – brainstorm ideas – research for one idea – work on first draft – revise a short story, article, picture book, or chapter – do market research – listen to a podcast on ____ topic – read blog posts on _____ – analyze feedback from others on my work – write a cover/query letter for _____ – submit manuscript _____
Be as specific as possible.
See more sample task ideas at the bottom of this article
and in the chart.
2. Commit to a time period whether it is a half hour or an
hour or two. Pick three to five days a week.
3. Next, if you can, prioritize you list in order of most important.
If none stand out, that’s okay too.
4. Then take your “to-do” list and plot them on a calendar OR
during each scheduled time just pick one off of your list.
5. Add and cross-off items on your “want to get done” list.
Word by word, project by project, if you spend a little
bit of time, you will make progress. Celebrate those accomplishments no
matter how small.
Here’s a chart suggestion for recording what you’ve done so you can look back on it and be encouraged:
Second, remember you are not alone
We are all affected. Interacting digitally with others can help us not feel so isolated. My critique group is using Zoom to meet weekly. Don’t have a critique group? Offer to exchange critiques via email with other writers. (You can find them through SCBWI.org, on the Blueboard, through Facebook and Google groups, etc.) Talk to others in these groups. Comment on blog posts or podcasts that you found helpful. Share those links with others you know. And/or share on Twitter.
Third, encourage yourself
I’m finding myself doing a lot of what I call “comfort”
reading—that’s rereading books that I know I’ll enjoy. Recently, it’s been the Harry
Potter books. I’ve also connected with some old friends whom I haven’t talked
to in years. I’m getting outside in the fresh air. What makes you happy? It’s necessary
to take a break from all the bad news and uncertainty.
Read recent children’s books. Whatever fits what you want to write.
A novel. A handful of picture books. Chapter books. What did you learn?
Research one magazine market. Read about the magazine
in the market book, go to the magazine’s website, read guidelines and editorial
calendars, and sample copies if available. Take notes, if you like. I often
write directly in my copy of a market book.
Search #MSWL on Twitter. Agents and editors give updates using
I often learn things the hard way. And again did so when I closed an account.
We’d moved from one part of the state to another and I set up new writing accounts (checking and savings) at a new credit union. After several weeks, I closed the accounts at the old financial institution. Then a few days later, I realized I wanted to look at an e-statement on the old account. However, no more online access! I called customer service to see if there was a way to get those past statements. Yes, for $2.50 each statement. Ouch. And they only had 6 months’ worth. I took them.
That got me to thinking. When we long ago switched from receiving paper statements to e-statements, it never occurred to me that I should download copies. I looked at our family accounts—there were e-statements back to September 2017 (28 months—length of time varies at each financial institution), so I saved all those copies. (Printing to pdf is my favorite method if the site doesn’t offer downloading as a pdf.) I need to do the same with my Visa account.
Why does this matter to us creatives? It may never matter. Unless you get audited by the IRS. Those statements substantiate that meal you bought while at a conference, the hotel bill, airline tickets, webinar and writing event fees, etc. You may have receipts for all these which makes the bank statement less critical, but it seems I always have something where I didn’t get a receipt. Those statements are a nice backup.
I also find them useful when preparing my taxes. I keep a spreadsheet of writing expenses, but sometimes have entered something without the amount. It’s quicker to look at a past statement than going through the receipts.
And speaking of receipts, many are in my email. I don’t usually bother to print them out or save them as a pdf. I think I should begin to do the latter. Not sure how far back I will go, but definitely for 2019. Perhaps there are other options. I’ll address those in another post.
My friend Debra has been working hard on uncluttering her house. Some items she’s sold; others she’s given away. She recycled and tossed. She spent all day Saturday on papers. Now Debra’s finding herself enjoying a room that had previously been a catch all. This inspired me to take a look at my office. I haven’t been writing in there for several reasons, but the one most appropriate for this post is the clutter. It makes me feel guilty when I look at it. Which doesn’t promote creativity. And even though I hate not finding things I want, I’ve procrastinated from attacking the mess because it was overwhelming.
So, I started with one thing. I organized a small drawer. Items were recycled, trashed, donated, and kept. I can find things in that drawer. What a concept!
Next, I cleared junk off of a ledge and was able to dust it. Achoo!
Then, I worked on a stack of papers on one side on my desk. Just one stack. I filed, I recycled, I tossed. I found my buried coaster. It is such a good feeling to actually have a place to set a cup of tea.
That task led to another. Some of those to file items got put on top of the story box where they belonged, because there was no room in the box. Sigh. We were also doing our taxes and realized we’d been holding on to papers that we didn’t need to, or ones that should have been discarded several years ago. Cue the shredder. Both made me aware that my story file boxes could be purged.
Here’s what I got rid of starting with anything older than ten years:
– Manila folders of stories that have never sold.
– Physical rejection forms/letters.
– Printed cover/query letters.
– Printed copies of stories/articles – electronic versions are all on my computer.
– My submission records for those rejected stories so I could find to whom I’d submitted.
– Manila folders and contents for stories/articles I’d sold.
– A few encouraging notes.
What I gained:
– Plenty of room in my story file boxes for my filing.
– Reminder of pieces I might want to resubmit.
– Encouragement from personal rejections.
– And nothing is stacked on those boxes!
Because I was spending time in my office, I was once again using my desktop computer–I’ve been using my laptop 99.9% of the time. That meant I discovered the desktop computer was acting oddly. Virus scanning didn’t do much. My husband unhooked it from power and cables, opened it up and found it also was choked with dust. A good vacuuming and we both are breathing better.
There’s more uncluttering to go. That stack on the left side of my desk. Other drawers. Conference folders shoved into a cubby. Cards I have trouble throwing away. But each time I see what I’ve accomplished, it’s easier to think about tackling other areas.
Someday I might even thin out my bookshelves. 😉