Make sure you use the appropriate pencil
Don't draw freeform, use this stencil
Armed police keep you safer than a fence will
Dress for Jesus, and don't be sinful
We don't want you led astray, we'll blur out those pixels
That's a fire hazard, now take down that tinsel
There's a war on Christmas, it's as clear as crystal
Remember, it's not hate if it's official
You don't need medicine, just take fish oil
Always respect authority; it's just that simple
You should love America; we've the biggest missile
Stop and Frisk isn't profiling if they've always got a pistol
Learn to respond promptly at a bell or whistle
Children should always be polite and cheerful
Never talk back, protest, nor so much as bristle
No matter what, your clothes and skin mustn't wrinkle
You need to compromise; we won't meet you in the middle
Now forget everything you've learned; we've a fire to kindle
Baby girl please don't age; you're so pretty
Pretend you're a ballerina
But be nicer to Tina
One day you'll travel the planet
Make a wish; the candles are lit
But don't rip your new dress
Only a good girl can be a princess
The world is your pearl
You should dress like a girl
Don't get mud on your knees
Wear a crown of daisies
Dance beside the campfire
But don't arouse his desire
Don't you want him to like you?
Stop reading; there's no time to
Life's too short to care about grades
We're gonna hit the raves
Grow your hair out long
Put your lipstick on
Hell yeah, six inch heels
You'll be hell on wheels
But no, not like that
You look like you've got the clap
Less like a used up city tramp
More like the girl from summer camp
Might as well, you're getting old
Now no one minds your belly roll
Wear clashing colours
Go outside in your rollers
Hit on men you pass in the street
They're no threat when you're no treat
Cause you know life is short
Get drunk in Miami airport
You're free now, we're moving on to your child
Live as wide as a country mile
Learn from my mistakes
Don't listen to those 'girl power' fakes
Don't accept 'boys will be boys'
You can play with army toys
Get dirty, be loud, fill your own space
I was given a small taste
They want you in a cage, but it doesn't have to be.
Social media scheduling is a life saver. HootSuite drastically limited the amount of scheduled posts a free account can have at any given time. I've previously talked about how HootSuite was my personal saviour, but unfortunately their pricing levels are a bit steep for me to pay to continue using it as I'd previously been for free.
Now, this isn't to say that I'm not happy to pay to play. But when the free option gives you three social profiles and 30 scheduled posts across all three profiles, and the next level up is ten profiles for $20USD per month, along with plenty of other features which I feel to be unnecessary for where I am personally, it does sting a bit. I could happily stay with HootSuite if they introduced a cheaper, more entry-level option. But they haven't, so I'm shopping around, to the benefit of my poor, poor readers.
My first candidate is SocialPilot. I'll be exploring the free options, as well as trialling their entry-level paid account.
First and foremost, SocialPilot is for B2B social media scheduling. Most of its features, while seemingly robust and well-implemented, will be fairly useless for an individual trying to build an author platform. It has helpful tools like account grouping and team/client support, bulk scheduling, and at the higher end, some analytical tools.
What fired me up:
Not a lot, if I'm honest.
The user interface for creating posts is far superior to Hootsuite's:
It's clean, intuitive, and doesn't vanish if you dare to hover your mouse elsewhere on the screen. That last part in particular really irritates me about Hootsuite.
You also have the ability to browse curated content, and select from popular articles on certain topics. This is similar to Crowdfire's suggested posts, except you have a little more to choose from. Hootsuite, as far as I can tell, does not have this feature.
RSS feeds are another option, but admittedly one I never really got into and thus don't know much about and don't use. If you have any suggestions on using RSS feeds, feel free to pop them in the comments below.
I did notice a tendency for SocialPilot to delay posts by up to fifteen minutes. For many people, this may not matter, but I'm of the opinion that if I wanted it to go out fifteen minutes later that's when I would have scheduled it.
Additionally, even when trialling the entry-level paid version I didn't get access to analytics. And it lacks the one thing I like about Hootsuite the most: the monitoring feature. I couldn't see any way to replicate the hashtag monitoring feature I use to keep abreast of the frankly exhausting number of writing related Twitter tags, as well as a few Instagram ones I like to watch.
SocialPilot is a very easy to use social media scheduling tool. It has a pleasantly straight-forward UI and has been very well developed. However, for my personal use, I find it works better as a supplement to a free Hootsuite account rather than a replacement.
Keep an eye on this site, as this will be the first in a series of posts examining the pros and cons of more of Hootsuite's competition.
As with every NaNoWriMo month, I did it. Part of me probably knew it was coming, but I still didn't see it coming. I hit The Wall.
It started as a headache on Friday after an evening out with people from work. So that nixed Friday's writing. Saturday I still had the headache. And now we're at Sunday and I'm struggling to reclaim that momentum I built up over the previous week.
I'm currently sitting at 13126 words, and by Day 9 I should be on 14516. 1390 words to go. I'm struggling to make it to 750.
What have I been relying on to maintain any sort of a habit?
1. The Extreme Harry Potter Word Crawls
This is the number one tool in my kit. Any time I've really seriously dedicated myself to writing, it's been with this. You can find it here (requires a log in to NaNoWriMo's website) and I highly recommend it. It makes things fun, and gives you small, achievable goals. Things like 'write 250 words' or 'write for five minutes'. And it follows everyone's favourite wizard! There's even stuff for multiplayer (the 'word wars'). What's not to like?
2. 750 Words
We've all heard about the morning pages. For those who somehow are writers but haven't ever googled 'how to be a writer', the morning pages are a recommended prescription for a busy brain. You write (by hand, if possible) at least three pages of whatever comes to mind.
This website allows you to write that, and provides some nice analytics tools as well as badges to incentivise maintaining writing streaks. It's pretty addictive, especially if you're like me and metrics are your kink. They can tell you how long you spent writing, what you accomplished while you were doing it, tone, POV, and most commonly used words.
3. Accountability Buddies
Guilt and embarrassment are probably the biggest motivators in human history, outside of the usual (carnal) suspects. So I decided to load up on those.
I post about it as close to daily as possible on my Twitter and Facebook, to keep me accountable to both my close friends and family as well as the stellar writing community on Twitter. I also exchange emails with a friend who is studying for a license exam and we check in on each other that way. Lastly, I've instructed a colleague (and friend!) to bung sweets across the divider between our desks if I'm able to provide proof of progress to her each morning. I'm grateful for the support. (P.S. The aforementioned colleague is a talented artist! You can find her here.)
4. Heavy Pre-Planning
I'll return once more to the tropes littering every website that touches on the topic of writing: pantsers vs. plotters.
I fall heavily into the realm of plotters. Some people don't need to do this, and they write beautiful organic stories and everything's neatly filed away in their brains. I am not one of those people. Instead, I take plotting to its cold, functional extreme. I used the worksheets on Annie Neugebauer's website, which you can find here.
They've totally become my crutch, because once I find something I like that produces even mediocre results out of my usual sludge, dammit I'm going to use it until it's unhealthy.
I go through highs and lows with my mood, and with it my productivity and creativity peaks and troughs as well. If I'm not careful, one day I'm going to end up with a diagnosis. But the important point is that I go through periods where I do a ton of research on boosting productivity and tracking goals and building habits. This leads to a flurry of apps to go with it and notebooks that are painstakingly designed and will most assuredly sit empty (RIP bullet journals).
The latest success story from one of these is Habitica. It's a basic sort of RPG where you grind by completing tasks and goals IRL. You can set daily tasks, habits, and long term projects/goals, and even break these down into their individual component actions. There are pets, and quests, and equipment for your avatar, so the appeal is fairly obvious for most, as are the addictive elements. I'll have to check back in with a later post about the long term results of Habitica, but so far, so good. It's kept me on track with Camp NaNo, as well as the myriad other things I'm attempting.
So that's what I'm using to try and tackle this behemoth of a project. What have you found useful in keeping the words flowing, come what may?