Bullet Journal – a writers approach

During 2017, I got increasingly frustrated with the progress of my WIP despite my regular attendance at #5amwritersclub. I had trouble getting my daily workload organized in a reasonable way and still get some writing done – all day every day something came up and interfered. So, I was searching for a remedy, something new worth trying. In came my first Bullet Journal.

That was in August 2017 and now, almost half a year later, I’m still using it. I’ve written a guest post for the SCBWI Germany/Austria chapter’s blog. Head over there if you want to know how I personalized my Bullet Journal and organize (not only) my writing.

Got a journal yourself? Any ideas how I could improve my journaling? Write me in the comments – I’d love to hear about it!


First SCBWI Meeting of 2018

It had been too long, really! I missed out on the meetings of SCBWIAustriaGermany chapter for the last two times (NaNoWriMo and December-holiday-season did not allow me much time), Yesterday, finally, I was headed to Stuttgart to see my fellow writers and, as always, it was a great success.

We met at our usual spot in Stuttgart library, eight ladies in all, and discussed our work. There’s nothing as inspiring as talking to likeminded people about new ideas and see how far others have come, how well their work is progressing and getting feedback on your own project.

During the day I read a number of PB manuscripts that I’ve seen as mere ideas, read at various stages along the road, and that are nearly perfected now. I’ve read a promising idea of a dystopian story and can’t wait to see it grow into a full-fledged manuscript.

Special shout-out to one of our members for a promising honorary mention in SCBWI’s Undiscovered Voices Competition. Even if the manuscript did not make it to the finalist this time, I’m absolutely sure it’s bound to happen soon. Fingers crossed!

And to all SCBWI members here in the Austria/Germany chapter as well as all SCBWI folks around the globe: I am proud to be part of your open and friendly community, happy to give feedback and grateful to receive comments on my own work.

Until next month, ladies!

Scrivener Webinar and 5 features I’ll use

I’ve been using Scrivener since early 2016. Back then, I had been unsatisfied with the regular “word files plus project folder” – setup for my writing projects. It just took to long to organize research, pictures or backmatter. Even with the help of bookmarks and Pinterest, it was still a pain to find stuff again that I knew I had already looked up and saved somewhere. So, I gave Scrivener a try and have not looked back since.

But, just as it is often the case with any given application, I don’t use the tool the full extent of its capabilities. There are always some special tricks, features and hidden functionalities I never needed or just don’t know about.

When I stumbled over SCBWI_Dakotas chapter’s webinar on Scrivener, I signed up, positive I’d learn something new. I wasn’t disappointed. (check out their chapter website here – there’re more webinars to come.)

1) Split Document with ⌘K

When importing an already full or partially written manuscript (e.g. from MSword) to Scrivener, I’ve always assumed I had to specially format the original file with parseable identifiers and import using these to get one text documents per chapter in Scrivener.

Turns out, there’s an easier way: Import the whole text. In the text, click where you want your new chapter to start. Press ⌘K and voilá! Scrivener divides the document into two at this point.

2) Colour code documents and folders in the binder

I had used labels in Scrivener before but these only always showed up as a smallish ribbon on the folder card or notecard when the corkboard view was active. But when I’m actually writing and not outlining anymore,  I rarely use the corkboard view.

Turns out, there’s a way to show the label colour in the binder. In the menu go to the View tab. In the fifth section, you’ll find the submenu “Use label colour in….” Check binder here and say hello to a colourful binder!

3) Drag and drop matter from outside the application directly to Scrivener

It’s not that I’ve never used drag&drop across application before – I just wasn’t aware it would work with Scrivener, too and used the import function in the file menu.

Instead, it’s just as easy as you might imagine. Just plug any other document, URL or item directly to the place in the binder where you need it.

4) Compare snapshots of your documents

I already use snapshots. A lot! As in ten plus snapshots for certain scenes and I’m not even in the revision process. I just tend to rewrite often. It’s a stupid habit, I know, but well… *shrug*

Whenever I notice I’ve changed some phrase or sentence and want back the former version, I’d select the old snapshot and scroll until I’d find it.

Turns out, there’s a compare button. I’ve no idea why I ignored it so long without even trying it once. Now I know better.

5) Session and Manuscript targets

If only I had known this last November and keeping track of my progress during NaNoWriMo would have been a lot easier. There’s even a “allow negatives” checkbox.

Well, NaNoWriMo is done but I’ll make use of this feature anyway. Part of my goals for 2018 is to keep track of my progress in more detail – not only the time spent writing but the actual output, too. I believe I’ll get more done if I keep myself accountable. This is going to be easier now. Yay!

What else was new?

The webinar reminded me of the “composition mode.” I’ve used that before, too, but not as often as it would make sense. I’m planning on spending more time writing in this distraction-free mode.

Last but not least, I’ve learned there’s a new Scrivener version. I’ll have to check that out! Who knows what else I’m missing otherwise.

What about you? Do you (still) use MSWord or something else? Let me know!

7 things done, 7 things to do

If you believe the multiple motivational posts flooding the social media feeds in the early days of the year, one only has to dream big and fantastic success will come forth. Neat, eh? But it’s not all that easy. Even good intentions derived from the Big Dream won’t take you anywhere soon if you only dream them up but fail to follow up.

So, before I go ahead and think about what to strive for in 2018, let’s see what I did in 2017, concerning my journey as a writer. What did I do that I am proud of? Here’s a short list of my favourite personal achievements in 2017.

  1. I’ve routinely joined the #5amwritersclub. Getting up early, about 4:30am, yielded me a sizeable amount of time to write; time I was lacking the years ago. I developed the habit back in late 2016, but in the last year I was more often successful in banishing my “inneren Schweinehund” and conquer my sleep-deprived-weaker self. Not every day, but consistently enough.
  2. I wrote, finished and submitted a short story to a contest. That was a first for me. Nothing came off it, but it was an interesting experience. I also wrote my first poem in English, and for good measure, I submitted it to three contests.
  3. I’ve attended eight meetings of the Germany/Austria chapter of SCBWI – a group of fellow writers who never cease to motivate me, went to Frankfurt Book Fair and the book launch of fabulous Melinda Salisbury.
  4. I put down the WIP I was working on all through 2016/2017. A hard decision at the time, but the right one. I’m glad I set the story aside (for the time being). This left me free to launch my current WIP, a story I’m much more comfortable with, given my skill level. I’ve worked on this new project for about 8 months now, and the manuscript is already further developed than the old WIP ever was.
  5. I wrote ten blogposts (meh, too few), with the post about my take on DC’s Wonder Woman story structure and character arch being the most read.
  6. I attended 6 webinars (4 via SCBWI, 2 via other hosts/websites). Not all were equally helpful. I posted about the take-away-points of one already and a recap for a “A place in fiction” is scheduled for the end of the month.
  7. I won NaNoWriMo, though I worked with my current WIP instead of a new project.

This being said, let me see what I’d like to do in 2018, besides reaching for the stars, that is.

  1. I want to finish the first draft of my current WIP. Déjà-vu, eh? Well, I guess it’s a never-ending story. After the story is before the story or rather the main character is dead! Long live the main character.
  2. I want to read and write more poetry. I want to read more in general, especially books and texts that don’t belong in the “on the craft” category.
  3. My website needs some work. I want to update and/or change the about-me page and increase the number of blogposts.
  4. #3 will work fine with the plan to keep attending webinars and share my take-away-points afterwards. Same goes for blog posts on structure and character arch found in movies and from books.
  5. I started submitting smaller works in 2017 and want to keep that up. While I’m not ready to start submitting the book, I want to do so with poems and possibly short stories.
  6. I’ve decided to reduce the hours at my daily job to further increase my time writing. To use the won time effectively, I plan to hold myself accountable for the time spent actually writing. For that, I’ll keep using my bullet journal, tracking not only word count, but hours spent on the project, too.
  7. Last but not least: minimise procrastination. Ha! Yeah, right…. Twitter, Insta, Facebook… the lot keeps stealing my time. I’m still not sure how to tackle this, but I’ve got another year ahead to figure something out.

The most important item on the list is without a doubt #6. On multiple occasions I’ve read the sentence: If you want to be a successful author, you need to treat it like a proper job. Writing is work; hard one day and fun the next. I want to make the hours I got count.

What about you out there? What did you achieve last year, and where do you want to go in 2018? Whatever, wherever that is – I hope it’s going to be a fun ride.

New year, new goals.

Happy New Year to you, dear reader!
I hope you spent the last moments of 2017 and the first moments of 2018 with your loved ones and friends and had the most amazing time. I certainly did. Now, I am looking forward to 2018 for there are some changes ahead.

As the beginning of a new year usually prompts some resolutions and for me one of those for 2018 is to get my blogging routine up to a new level, here I am, posting the first of hopefully many entries on the very first day of the new year.
Fear not, however, I won’t bore you with a list of good intentions (just now). Instead, I’ll review the last “bucket list” I wrote – amazingly, this post dates back to December 2015 and was targeting my plans for 2016. Oops.

Back then, I came up with 8 points for me to strive for and I didn’t do so bad. Here’s the list again:

  1. Get a critique buddy.
  2. Check for German chapter of SCBWI – if there is one, sign up.
  3. Decide on the basic structural frame for WIP
  4. Find something else than MS word for a writing environment.
  5. Stop or at least minimise procrastination.
  6. Find a way to carve out daily writing hours.
  7. Write some more blog posts.
  8. Review this list at least once a month. Maybe the … 14th each month would be an idea and add all things that came up eventually.

So, I did quite well with items 1, 2, 4, and 6.
Yes, there is a SCBWI chapter here in Germany (it’s the Germany/Austria chapter, to be precise) and I’m lucky to have a group of ladies who meet up once a month in the Stadtbibliothek Stuttgart, just an hour from home. They basically are my critique buddies now and the group has grown considerably during 2017. This is truly amazing and I very lucky to be part of it.
Yes, I did find something else than MS Word – I chose Scrivener in early 2016 and never looked back.
Yes, I did carve out writing hours, even if this turned out to be the hardest part of the game. Hello there, #5amwritersclub. If you are unfamiliar with the hashtag, I recommend you head over to twitter and see for yourself. Or better yet, join us!

For the other four items on the list however – it’s not so easily determined if I succeeded – in the best case, I’m still on it.
I obviously did not live up to item 8, given that I only just now review this list again…
I did not write as many blog posts as I was aiming for. If I reflect on it, I was probably buried in craft books and stepping up my game in the art of writing and did not feel I had much to say.
I did not stop procrastination. Not entirely. But, I am proud of the progress I made and I’m still working on avoiding distractions and better organisation. Some days that works better than other days – I’m sure it’s not only me who feels that way.

And the decision on the structure of my WIP? Ha Ha Ha … yeah, no. I’ve since moved on from the manuscript I was working on in early 2016. I had to admit to myself that I did (and still do) lack the skill level to manage such a huge project. It’s not dead – but it’s sitting, resting, simmering in *the drawer* for now. I still love the world and the characters and the ideas about it but it’ll have to wait. I will come back to this particular story when I got some more experience under my belt.

I’m going to draw up a new bucket list for 2018 in the next days – just to write down some task and goals I want to achieve in the upcoming year.

Without a goal, there’s no direction for your efforts, right?




NaNoWriMo 2017 – Part II

It’s a week since NaNoWriMo 2017 ended and I DID IT!
Despite my doubts, when I started out on that journey.
Despite some days without a single word written.
Despite falling behind midway through the month.

I was proud when I changed my Facebook profile pic to the “NaNoWinner” diamond. I still am, even though I put up a regular picture again. The best take-away from November 2017 would be this: I am able to write 50.000 words in 30 days. That bodes well for future projects and gives me a huge boost.

Next year, I might consider the original NaNO idea – start something new from the scratch. This has to be just as exciting!

While I made a lot of progress with my current WIP, I am not done with the novel. Instead, I realised I’ll have to muck out a lot of paragraphs in the first quarter; some of which I really really like … (probably that’s why I wrote those in the first place even though it’s technically not story relevant.)

But that wont happen until I go into revision and edits. And before that, I got to finish the first draft. So, given that I had one week to catch up on (some of) the chores I neglected during November, I’m going to dive back in next Monday and see if I can make it to the finish line by the end of the year. It’s still more than twenty days .. should be worth another 35k words?


NaNoWriMo 2017

I’ve heard about NaNoWriMo last year for the first time and was instantly intrigued. National Novel Writing Month. Nice. I’m not the only dreamer out there, I knew it! Sadly, last year’s November was already full. Two trips to the UK, the birthday of my oldest, several other appointments…simply put, I did not stand a chance.

But this years November hasn’t got quite such a tight schedule. Can it do it? Can I write 50k words in a month when I’ve hardly put down 30k during the last 9 month? Granted, there was the summer break when I stopped working on my WIP altogether and finished a short story and a poem instead, but 50k?

What to they say? “If you don’t try, you’ll never know what you can accomplish.” So, I guess there’s only one way to find out, right?

So I went ahead and signed up with the NaNoWriMo website. Come and find me and let’s be buddies – my alias is Rammerk!

The original idea of NaNoWriMo is to work on a completely new project. I pondered this for the last four days but have now decided to drop it. My heart is with my current WIP and Eden, my main character, is a constant companion in my head. If at all, I’m going to add those words to her story.

Will it be 50k? I don’t know. But I will try!