Melanie Glinsmann

Writing my way through the cubicle jungle one day at a time

It’s Been A While

Welcome back, creativity!

 

It’s been a busy few months around here. With that busyness, it’s also been a few months of learning, both in the traditional academic sense, and in a metaphorical sense about myself.

I took two graduate classes this semester that I needed in order to renew my teaching certificate. While I haven’t been in a K-12 classroom in a number of years, I’ve always kept my certificate active as my “Just In Case” plan.  I only needed six credit hours either in general education and/or in my specific content areas (English or social science). Not that much considering how many classes are required to get an initial teaching certificate.

I was able to take the classes online through the same university where I earned my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. They have a great continuing education program for education professionals. I took an Education Philosophy class and a Modern British Literature class. This was my third time as a college student, but the first time taking classes while also working full-time. In the past, I either didn’t have to work, worked only part-time, or worked for the university as part of my graduate program. I definitely have a new appreciation for those who have to work full-time while pursuing their initial degree. I’m glad I only had to do one semester.

Although I only had two classes, having set deadlines for things outside of my regular work day was a learning experience in more ways than one. While I might not have the same commitments as those who chase kids from one activity to another, my time away from work is spent planning, writing, and editing my various writing projects. The flexibility of not having hard deadlines or a set schedule is great. But the flexibility can also lead to complacency. As I’ve gone through this semester, I’ve learned having deadlines is a great motivator.

 

Now that my classes are finished, I can get back to work on finishing the edits for my novel. But as I move forward, I’ve decided to implement some things I learned the past few months.

  • Regular writing/editing schedule – In the past, I would write and edit projects as needed. I could work for three hours some nights, and only 20 minutes other nights. I now intend to set up a regular schedule for writing time each day. I’ll occasionally have to work around other commitments and appointments, but I plan to schedule at least two hours each day to work on any necessary writing projects, including research, writing first drafts, and/or editing. The schedule will have a definite start time each day.
  • Set deadlines – With working alone, it’s easy to say “I’ll finish that tomorrow.” But saying that too many times means I’ll never finish my novel. In order to get back to making regular progress, I am going to set up a series of deadlines for each stage of the process. Since my primary project now involves editing my novel, I will review each editing phase needed (high level, fixing plot, grammar, etc…), and set up a schedule for each phase that includes a deadline for completing each phase.
  • Accountability through sharing – Writers are notorious for keeping their work secret until absolutely necessary to share with the world. In order to hold myself accountable, I intend to start publicly sharing details about my book as I complete the editing stages. By sharing pieces of my work, I know that those who are following along will be waiting for updates.
  • Better organization system – I’ve never been one to care much about clutter or not putting everything away immediately after using it. But trying to keep everything organized for my classes, while still keeping up on other things meant papers and books everywhere. As I get deeper into editing, I will have multiple drafts of each chapter and notes for everything. I plan to use color-coded note cards to keep track of character sketches and plot lines. I will also utilize something I used when writing my master’s thesis in graduate school. I used large pieces of newsprint taped to my kitchen wall with the outline for each section. For my novel, I will use these large visual reminders on the wall above my desk to help me stay on track.

While I enjoy life in the academic world and learning more about authors and narrative, I’m happy to be getting back to work on my novel. But more importantly, I’m glad to get back to more creative pursuits.

 

When you’re working on a project, how do you keep track of progress and hold yourself accountable?

How do you foster your creativity when you’re busy with other commitments?

 

 

 

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