New Year, More Writing

The first meeting of the Mystery Writers of America Midwest for 2018 started off with a social hour, birthday cake and singing Happy Birthday to the man of every dark hour – Edgar Allan Poe. Edgar Allan Poe’s birthday was January 19th. He is buried at Westminster Hall and Burying Ground in Baltimore next to his wife, Virginia, and his Mother-in-Law Maria Clemm. To all mystery, detective, thriller, short story, horror writers and more Poe taught us so much. So, Happy Birthday Eddie!

The official meeting started with a presentation by Dana Kaye of Kaye Publicity. The presentation was about productivity. And as a writer, with a day job, two small children, in a PhD program, with a husband, house, who is also a graduate advisor and a human who sleeps… I wanted to know all about how I can be more productive – well, more organized.

Here are some of the things that Dana Kaye talked about:

  • Taking control of your own calendar. It’s up to you to carve out the time you need.
  • We find a way to fill the space. Stay on track.
  • Implement systems and develop habits. Use project management systems like asana.
  • Automate as much as you can. For example, Dana said that if you look at her social media profiles you may think she is online on social media all day when in actuality she spends one hour per week scheduling updates to be posted on social media using tools like Hootsuite.
  • Plan out schedules/ map out calendars
  • Themed days – for example maybe one day of the week is to be used for research and only do research on that day, another is for outlining, etc.
  • Train yourself. Train your habits
  • Outsource what you can. If you can get a babysitter to watch the kids for an hour a week, or whatever time, then do that and use that time to write.
  • The only thing you cannot outsource is your writing
  • Schedule time to the half hour – this sounds crazy – but I’ve started doing this, kinda, in order to see where my time actually goes.
  • We spend a lot of time thinking about what we need to do next, but if you write it down in a calendar the calendar will think for you.
  • Every night check what worked and what didn’t
  • Use Google calendars and Google alerts to prompt you when you need to move to the next thing.
  • Turn OFF non-urgent phone alerts, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat – those dings are distracting and pull you away from deep concentration.

My takeaways from her presentation, I am going to continue writing down what I do each half hour to assess where my time is going. Once completed this week, I am going to refine my bullet journal to map out my days and my projects and tasks. Ultimately, the goal is to get more organized in order to write more, finish these book projects and to avoid distractions in the New Year.

Oh, and I’m totally going to download her toolkit, which is free and can be found at