Mark Twain’s Daytimer

“Clemens always carried with him a small notebook in which he recorded matters great and trivial—business notes, addresses, personal errands, literary ideas.

In the spring of 1884, momentarily toying with the notion of a physician trying to write a play, he filled seven pages of his notebook with a list of potential characters, including “Rectum Jones” and “Scrofula St. Augustine.”  Mark Twain online museum.


What about you? Do you track your time and activities? Your writing? Your creative ideas? How?

Do you use a pocket notebook? Electronic notes?  I love hearing from you. Please talk to me.

First Quarter 2012 Plans, Week 10

For all my ROWing friends, I’ve placed a blog hop at the end of this post to make it easy for you to find and encourage a fellow ROWer.

Progress Last Week

Family Time gets a green light.

Banjo Practice gets a red light. Oh, Pooh. I’ve been sick for a while and it was either banjo practice or writing. I like my choice. I’ll get back with it this week.

Fiction writing gets a green light.

Non Fiction gets a green. I sent out three stories in answer to calls for submissions. Hoping for acceptance.

Social media gets an orange light  not for too little or too much time spent. I’m still working out how to arrange it, prioritize it and spend one hour per day.

Plan For This Week

Family Time –  Work ends at 4 every day.

Learn the Tenor Banjo

Practice once a day

Writing Education

Read in my craft book. I’m waiting for Bell’s Plot and Structure to come in the mail. Excited!

Fiction Writing – Before 8:30 A.M., M-S

This is going so much slower than I hoped. The learning curve is very steep for me. Discouragement tries to take hold of me but I’m pressing through it by reminding myself that novel writing is hard work that I enjoy. It is not a creative outlet that is a hobby.

Non-Fiction – 1:30-4, M, T, W, F; S- 8-1

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  1. I have multiple notebooks, computer files, etc – really, when I think about it, its a mess – but I swear I know where everything is *smile* and it works for me.

    Nice job on your goals. Once you get comfortable with the banjo you’ll have to post a sound clip for us. Just a suggestion. On the social media – I usually do two 30 minute sprints every day, most of that is promoting other peoples posts and responding to personal mentions but it has been effective at keeping it from burning the writing time.

    Fiction is indeed a struggle at first. Just keep at it and know that it will come more easily as time passes – patience with yourself is the greatest key.

    Have a great coming week, Ali 🙂

    • Ali Dent says:

      I needed to hear your encouragement about fiction. The steep climb is tiring and when I tired, I wonder if I at all meant for this.
      Thank you for giving me further information about how you spend your SM time. It helps.

  2. I agree, with Gene. Patience, though it’s hard to be so. Take one thing at a time. Write in scenes, that’s usually easier and just make sure you have all the elements required for one scene before moving onto the next–conflict, dialogue, cliff-hanger of sorts at the end, etc. Sometimes writing scene sketches on index cards makes it all clear. Slow-moving is better than not moving. 🙂

    I use MSWord and post-its and notebooks. I swear I’ll get more organized next time.
    Great week, Ali! Keep plugging away!

    • Ali Dent says:

      Marcia, thank you for taking time to give me detailed information to help me keep going. I want to know more about your index card idea. Share?

  3. I am getting more organized as time goes along – picked up useful tips fro fellow rowers but of course writing takes over before each new order is completed 🙂 it gets easier keep smiling

    • Ali Dent says:

      Awe, sweet words. It’s good to hear it gets easier. My sound logical side believes that has to be true. My heart ebbs and flows. I hope your week is strong Alberta.

  4. Great job on your goals!

    I’m starting to use daytimers and notes more often. Especially since I’m getting more forgetful. LOL

    • Ali Dent says:

      I understand the “getting more forgetful” problem. I live by my calendar, to do list that is more of a brain dump to keep all the stuff off my mind, and then I have three notebooks that the brain dump is sorted into: fiction, non-fiction/SM, and home/school. This way, when I sit down to work in an area, I don’t have the other categories calling on me to get them done instead of the work at hand.

  5. Love seeing Mark Twain’s notebooks! I keep a Weekly Status Report in a Word document that I update each Saturday night or Sunday morning (same time as I do my ROW80 Updates). I totally stole this idea from my day job (software developer). I list each active project, how many hours I spent on it (estimated), what I accomplished in the past week, and my plans for this week. It’s a good way to see where a To-do list turns into a ta-da list, and also provides documentation that I’m treating this as a business, should the IRS come calling.

    One thing I love about fiction is that there’s always something to learn and get better at. It’s not a race; you’ll get it down!

  6. Great progress, Ali, and I love your choice of writing over the banjo practice. Sometimes we just can’t do it all. For time management, I do drive-bys on some social media stuff via my tablet versus the laptop to keep myself short. Checking FB and TweetDeck on the tablet is great because I can skim and then leave quicker. On the laptop, I start clicking and wasting time. I like reading blogs via tablet too, but then it is harder to write a long comment if I want to, so I have to remember to come back. I’ve also set timers for myself to keep to a shorter window on something.

  7. Wonderful week Ali!
    I imagine the move to fiction is hard but I love your attitude and your words were inspiring and motivating to me. To remind yourself that it’s hard work you enjoy. So true. Here’s to reminding ourselves that the hard work will be worth it when we look back at our accomplishment. Here’s to letting that love of writing fill your creative muse. 🙂

    • Ali Dent says:

      Thanks, Natalie. I picture us looking back and knowing it was worth it and hopefully getting the opportunity to tell our story to others so they’ll have courage to keep on keeping on.

  8. I have a notebook for every book, plus digital files. I’m also building a little mini-library of binders of the classes I take 🙂

    Great goals Ali, best of luck this week!

    • Ali Dent says:

      I like the idea of a mini library of binders of classes you take. Great reference material, I’m sure. Good luck with your week, Kate.

  9. Hi Ali, I am still trying to find the perfect balance for Social Media. It is like a demon with four heads that sits at the front of my cave demanding to be fed before I can start writing. I think I need to begin writing first then feed him. We shall see.

    I make notes both on my computer and in a notebook that I keep in my purse. I actually need to clean out and create a better system for my notes on the computer. Ah another task that can pull me away from my writing. I have to be careful not to allow my organizing bug to over run my life.

    Be kind and compassionate to yourself. You are working your goals and submitting your work which is fabulous! Just keep writing and let the worry flow out of you.


  10. Hi, Ali!

    Fiction is difficult and incredibly rewarding, which you are discovering. Always, nonfiction taught me about organizing my fiction, although I don’t write as much nonfiction now. Frankly, I can lose my focus pretty easily in fiction, so I remind myself how I would approach a nonfiction piece.

    I time my writing as I have found that’s most helpful. Have never been impressed with word counts. However, as a first time ROW80 participant, I wanted to count what words I was actually keeping. Did better than I thought. As for ideas, I keep them in a computer file, mostly, as my days are spent almost entirely with my laptop.


    • Ali Dent says:

      It’s good to hear your POV. Writing non fiction is where I’m most comfortable. I too am working to use my non fiction, organizational skills with my fiction project. Elizabeth George’s “Write Now” helps. She is a left brainy like me and she writes fantastic fiction. Her approach is similar to what you’re doing.

  11. Hi Ali! Sounds like you’ve had a great week. I didn’t even get my ROW80 update posted on Sunday, so I’m shooting for Wednesday’s check-in. Just trying to mesh it all in.

    You know me – I use notebooks. Lots, and lots, and lots of notebooks.

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