Evernote

I spent the last week of 2021 organizing my entire life.

Also battling Covid with hot ginger tea, Netflix, and NyQuil, but let’s not talk about that.

Actually, let’s talk about that, really, really quick. First off, Covid sucks. For all of the reasons. Second, there are so many good shows on Netflix. Like, so many. I had no idea there were so many. I started browsing through after we got our subscription, and before I even knew what was happening, I had a full list of shows I will never have time to watch all the way through.

How does that happen?

But, like I was saying, I binge-watched Netflix, coughed up more phlegm than I care to think about, and organized my entire life in the Evernote app on my computer.

Ahh, Evernote.

Where have you been all my life?

Seriously, guys, this app is now my happy place. I am a productivity freak, okay? I love to-do lists and check boxes and neat little files with all my important documents in them, and this app has them all. I had a place for my morning routine, my shopping list, my weekly menu, the recipes I want to try, my business documents, my taxes, my bills, my invoice statements . . . literally, my entire life.

All in one app.

I’m wildly excited. Probably more excited than is reasonable for me to be.

You know you’ve reached peak adulting when a special file for your tax forms gets you excited about life.

Obviously, it takes a while to gather all these bits and pieces into one place, but what better way to spend my entire week in bed? I typed away, drank tea, and watched Avatar the Last Airbender.

Because Zuko, obviously.

But, now that I’m back on my feet and back to work, I can already tell I am going to reap the benefits of that work. My work schedule is more streamlined, my habits have been adjusted to a rhythm that is supporting me again, and—best of all—I know where everything is!

Is there a better feeling than that?


Have you tried Evernote, or a similar productivity app? Tell me about it in the comments!

Breaking Ground

To celebrate 2022 arriving, I would like to take a moment to stop and appreciate the craziest purchase I made in 2021.

Weird, right?

Don’t worry.

It gets weirder.

Know why? In 2021, my husband and I bought . . . an aircraft hanger.

Are you shocked? Horrified? Intrigued?

So was I.

What happened was this. The day—and I kid you not, the exact day—I packed up my desk and left my full time job to start my own business in March, my husband and I met my sister and her husband at a local sushi restaurant to celebrate my nerve-racking transition into self-employment.

We were going to talk and laugh and eat sushi and pretend I wasn’t terrified about the idea of running my own business and setting my own hours.

Instead, we decided to buy an aircraft hanger.

Decisions get made in sushi restaurants, guys. It happens.

Obviously, my sister and I do not own a plane. I can’t even make a decent paper plane. But . . . we both needed a house. And my dad had a contact in the metal building industry who had an aircraft hanger he’d built for a client. The client had changed his mind, and our contact was now offering us the building . . . for a massive discount. Turns out, with a few minor tweaks, an aircraft hanger makes for a pretty nice house—one that will fit two growing families quite easily.

Obviously, we’ve got a long way to go before the pile of metal struts and beams becomes a house we can live in, but I’m feeling optimistic. The last parts for the metal building have finally been delivered, and a few weeks ago, we broke ground on our property, so we actually have a place to put this house.

When it’s actually built, anyway.

Needless to say, buying a home just as I was transitioning into a business owner has been a huge stretch for me. I like to make my huge life transitions one at a time, thank you very much, and navigating both of these monuments at the same time has been a lesson in faith, especially when it comes to finances.

But I am learning to trust.

So . . . now we own an aircraft hanger.


Do you have any huge milestones in 2021 that you felt stretched you to the limits? Tell me about them in the comments!

A Day In The Life

I am a full-time writer. I’ve mentioned that about a million times on this blog, along with noting that I run my own business as a freelancer. But today, I’d like to dive a little deeper into what that looks like on a daily basis.I’ll give you a hint.

I don’t actually spend my entire day writing.

Nor, strangely enough, do I spend my whole day in my pajamas, although I work from home and generally spend the majority of my time with my kitty and my newly acquired puppy. No boss checking that I’m meeting dress code here! Except for me, and I have my own policies about that. But, we’ll get into that. In short, this is what a typically day as a freelance scriptwriter looks like.

5:30 – 7 AM: My alarm goes off stupidly early. My husband sets it for me every night, usually because I’m already buried in my blankets and stick my head out to ask if he will. He’s a good sport. I like to get up before the sunrise to get a start on my day before the rest of the world is awake and jostling for my attention. It gives me some space. Now that we have a puppy in the house, I take her out on her leash to use the bathroom, then walk over to my parents’ house to jump on their rebound mini trampoline.

People always laugh at me for the jumping thing. They can’t seem to figure out why I do it, and it weirds them out. Simply put, this is my time. I stick my headphones in, and I work on my books. Stories don’t just show up, you know. You have to plan them. You have to make space for dreaming and talking with characters and imagination, and this is my space. If I don’t have this time, I don’t have books. Period. You might say this is one of the most important parts of my day as a writer.

7 – 8 AM: When I get home, I clean. Obsessively. I find it very hard to be creative if the dishes aren’t done or the floor isn’t swept, so before my day really gets started, I make sure that all the little chores are well and truly finished. This is also when I get dressed—no pajamas here. I’ve learned through a bit of trial and error that I feel 100% better if I’m dressed for work and have done my hair and makeup. It’s the little things.

8 – 9 AM: I study Spanish with Duolingo. This is one of my weirder habits—it has nothing to do with my career, probably won’t be relevant to my daily life anytime soon, and as much as I enjoy it, I probably will never become a fluent—or even competent—Spanish speaker. But it’s something new and different for my brain to do, and it keeps me sharp.

9 – 12 AM: This is my first big ‘chunk of work’ for the day. I generally have meetings during this time to discuss scripts, casting, story problems, or just provide updates for deadlines and revisions that need to happen. When I’m not in meetings, I’m writing. Depending on the day, I might be throwing together an outline for the team to approve for a script, or drafting a chapter for one of my two books in progress, or writing dialogue for a script. This is all usually accompanied by a cup of tea, trips outside with the puppy, and my kitty attempting to crawl into my lap to get the love and attention she deserves.

12 – 2 PM: Lunch, another trip outside with the puppy, and maybe if I have time, I’ll walk over to my parents house to see actual human people and jump. Another brainstorm session helps get me back in the game for an afternoon of writing.

2 – 4 PM: More writing. Afternoons are hard, y’all. This is when I start falling asleep. Music generally helps, and sprints with my writers’ group over text. When we’re all working, it always encourages me to get more words in. If I’m working on books that particular day, this is also where I will switch projects. 1000 words in the morning for one book, 1000 words in the afternoon for another. We don’t always hit that, but we try.

4 – 6 PM: I’m prepping dinner, listening to crime podcasts or an audio book, and taking the puppy out for a good romp before the husband gets home and we eat together.

6 – 9 PM: This is supposed to be free time. It really, really is. But if I’ve got a tight deadline on a script that I’m trying to meet, or if I happen to be feeling particularly inspired, I’ll curl up on my couch with my computer and get in a few hundred extra words. My cat usually sits on top of me, and my husband plays video games next to me, so it’s all very cozy. Or, if my writers’ group is up for it, we’ll toss out a few prompts through text and free write for a while—which is always good for creativity and opens up dozens of interesting doors.


There you have it! This is what a typical day as a freelance writer looks like—at least in my neck of the woods. This was an enormously long post, but if you’ve ever wondered what a writer actually does in a day, now you know!

Who Has Time To Read???

No, really. Who has time to read?

And can I borrow a little bit from you?

I promise to pay it back the next time I have a few spare minutes.

Which will probably be next year sometime.

Actually, I’ve had more time to read lately than I think. I’ve finally finished with wedding planning, I’ve been married for more than a month (!!!!!), things are starting to settle, and life has found a rhythm.

I have afternoons again.

And evenings.

And time in the morning before I start work.

Of course, most of those times are taken up by personal writing, working out, and time with the husband, but I’ve gotten a few pages in here and there. I finally, finally finished Dracula while we were on our honeymoon, and let me tell you, that book had me panicking right up until the very last page.

Not to spoil anything, but I thought Dracula was gonna come after me.

Freaked me out.

But that book has been added to my ‘read’ list, and I’m on to the next classic. Which happens to be Les Miserables. So, I’m going to take my time with it. There’s something extremely comforting about a book so long that you can linger through the pages, enjoying the writing and the story, because you just know it’s going to take you a few months to get all the way through.

At the very least.

In the meantime, I picked up a fantasy novel at the library. My husband and I were on our way to purchase his new car, and I realized I neglected to bring a book. Or my phone. Or writing implements. So I panicked and we stopped at the library, which turned out to be a good decision.

It took us hours to finish at the dealership. I plowed through 150 pages, and read an entire magazine to give my brain a break.

I almost starved too, but that’s another story.

In short, I am venturing into the literary world again. My books aren’t caked in dust anymore, and I can tell you, it’s a relief to be able to find refuge in a book after being much too busy for so long.

I’ve missed them.

What are you reading now? What were your Halloween/Fall picks for this year? Tell me about them in the comments!

Finding Rhythm

Guys.

I think my life is settling into something that semi-resembles . . . normality.

How do I deal with this? What do I do? Nothing has been normal for the last . . . let me think . . . three months? Give or take?

Man, planning a wedding will take it out of you. My entire life isn’t composed of a huge to-do list that grows longer with every passing day.

I’m not sure how to handle it.

Actually, getting back into a routine again has been a huge blessing. I am finally finding my feet again after all the wedding/honeymoon craze, and instead of having a boyfriend who swings by a couple of nights a week, I have a husband who heads off to work in the morning and arrives home again at night.

Can I just say? Best. Feeling. Ever. I was so sick of him having to leave every night.

But now that something resembling normal has returned and life is continuing on, a few things have cropped up that were . . . a little neglected while I was wedding planning.

Such as my personal writing, my health and well-being, and the state of my home.

Little things like that tend to catch you out if you don’t pay attention to them regularly enough.

Suffice to say, I have been doing lots of decluttering. And rearranging. And rapid writing as I try to fit in 500 words between the time when I stop work at three and my husband arrives home at five.

Which was all great! Until my health and well-being came knocking to remind me that if I didn’t put some effort into that side of my life, I was going to regret it. Badly.

Basically, I hit Friday afternoon a few weeks back and had to take sick time to finish my 40 hours because my back decided it no longer appreciated lounging on the couch with my computer. And come to find out, it’s very hard to be a successful creative when you’re in pain. Yep, I’ve gotten lazy about how I sit. At the office, I have a standing desk. At home, I . . . slump over my counter or curl up like a cat on my couch.

Not so good for the spine.

So, since returning to the office on a regular basis is still iffy, my husband and I went shopping for an ergonomically correct desk chair for me to use at our kitchen table. So I don’t end up hunched over and crooked because I work all the time.

It took three stores to find one I liked.

That was a long day.

But! I have a home office! My laptop has a stand to keep it at eye level, I have a desk chair and a rock salt lamp, and I’ve finally started taking breaks while I write to stretch and walk and get outside for a few minutes.

Shockingly, that has made a huge difference with my productivity. Who knew?

Basically, I’m finding my rhythm again. I’m remembering to take walks and breathe deeply and drink tea and feed the chickadees on my porch. The deer have another salt block, and the bluejays and squirrels have their corn. My writing has been dragged out of the dust, and I’m actually reading books again.

Life is returning to normal.

What are a few key things in your life that keep you in rhythm? Tell me about them in the comments!

Potstickers and Pasta Dough

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I’m on a dough shtick.

Pasta dough, mostly.

With a few dumplings thrown in.

Okay, what are those things actually called? Dumplings? Potstickers? Momos? I have like ten different names for them in my head and everyone calls them something different and every time I say a name, I’m wrong.

As you can tell, it has been frustrating me.

We’re going to go with dumplings.

Basically, they are small pockets of dough filled with tasty meat and steamed.

Dumplings.

And for dumplings, you need dough.

Or, you know . . . knead dough.

Haha.

Sorry.

So I’ve been kneading dough lately. On my weekends. Because it’s my favorite thing. My most favorite man bought me a totally awesome pasta rack to dry my pasta on. Not bragging, but he’s my most favorite. So, on Sunday, we stuck in a couple of movies—because making dumplings and pasta on the same day takes a long, long, long time—and I made dumpling dough. And pasta dough. And dumpling filling.

I’m not going to lie, half of the dumpling dough got wrapped up and stuck in the freezer after we ran out of filling. Because Sundays only have so many hours.

But I managed to finish the pasta off—thank goodness—and the drying rack worked like a charm. No more sticky pasta lumps! Yay!

So now my freezer is full of dried pasta and all the dumplings we didn’t immediately cook up and devour.

Which was not very many.

Basically, I have enough to snack on until next weekend—when I will be making more potstickers. Or dumplings. Or whatever you want to call them.

I’m perfecting my technique, see. Which means lots of practice. Trial and error, in which you eat all the evidence in order to keep other people from knowing about your mistakes in folding and rolling the dough.

Not a bad system, to tell the truth.

Someone enlighten me! What is the proper name for these dumplings/potstickers/momos/whatever they’re called? Have you made them? Tell me about it in the comments!

Introvert Recovery 101

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I had a crazy week.

Like, really crazy.

First of all, I spent all five work days at conference centers, attending—and presenting—at meetings. Which meant a lot of talking and a firehose of information. Stories were planned. Characters were examined. Exciting things happened.

I think I survived. I haven’t checked yet.

Secondly, we had quite a lot of snow, which got so bad that Wednesday night my dad got stuck on his way home and had to be rescued. I elected to stay in town for the night rather than try to make it home through the drifts. I called one of my best friends who also happens to be my godsister, and she graciously invited me to stay the night with her.

So, I slept at her house instead of going home. And fell in love with her gorgeous dog.

It was actually wonderful.

But by the time that Saturday rolled around, I was pretty much spent. Like, blank stare kind of spent. Being a scriptwriter and telling stories for a living is the best, most awesome thing ever, but it is also probably the most draining thing I have ever done. There are no auto-pilot days at the office, and my creativity takes a pretty regular beating.

So, on the weekends, I recover.

Recovery, for me, usually involves quiet moments. Silence. Stories that I don’t have to tell. And really, really good food.

Because who doesn’t love good food?

This week, I spent Saturday housesitting for a friend. I took my little sister with me, and we spent the whole day cooking good food, eating an entire carton of ice-cream between us, and watching TLC’s Say Yes To The Dress.

I fell asleep on the couch.

For several hours.

Basically, we binge-watched shows and slept the weekend away. It was exactly what I needed. Introvert recovery is hard on the best of days, but if you can find a special sister to spend it with and a place to hide away without interruptions, you’re well on your way. And, since I firmly believe that creativity is impossible without recovery in-between, it was the best thing I could have done for my books and the scripts I’m currently writing.

So everyone won!

How do you recover after a particularly draining week? Tell me about it in the comments!

Who Has Time To Read??

This week, I spent Friday night nannying at someone’s house.

Because I party hard, ya’ll.

I don’t normally nanny anymore, mostly because I work forty hours a week in an office, then get home and work on side hustle/personal career/books until I go to sleep. But this particular job fell into my lap, and I couldn’t say no. I mean, who DOESN’T need a little extra cash the month before Christmas, right?

At least, that’s what I told myself when I got home at 10 o’clock and realized I’d been awake for seventeen consecutive hours and really, really wanted to have been asleep a long time ago.

Not that I was counting.

But, aside from a little extra cash and an excuse to go out to dinner, this nanny job also gave me an excuse to sit on my butt and read for an hour or so. I mean, the kids were in bed, parents weren’t headed home for a while, and I had time.

And time, lately, isn’t something I have a lot of.

Actually, my reading has slowed down a little in the last few months. And by slowing down a little, I mean it’s fallen off a cliff into the ocean. I generally read a lot—in fact, I’ve read 96 books this year. But finding time to read when you work forty hours a week and run your own side hustle is a little—demanding.

So I listen to audiobooks in my car—with the volume all the way up, because due to personal reasons, my car sounds like a monster truck. Please don’t ask. And I sneak in a chapter here and a few pages there. I’ve started to bring a book to work with me, so I can read during my lunch break. That tends to have mixed results. Mostly because I do want to be social as well and hang out with my coworkers.

Because being social is definitely a priority in my life.

Wink wink.

Just now, I am working through Seven Years In Tibet. Actually, I’ve reviewed this wonderful book on my blog before, and I can truthfully say that it is just as magical and engaging the second time around. Despite having to read it in bits and pieces. I also have an audiobook waiting for me, which I WILL start today. Lately, the temptation in my car has been to turn on the radio and listen to music on the way to work, and several of my audiobooks have been returned to the library unheard.

Definitely not my proudest moment.

But today I am jumping back on the bookwagon, so to speak, and am determined not only to listen to this audiobook, but to fill up my queue again.

Soo… any suggestions?

What kind of crazy things do you do to find time to read? Tell me about them in the comments!

Mermaids

I saw a mermaid this weekend.

Actually two.

Real live actual mermaids.

Okay, not actual. But definitely real live mermaids.

Okay, it was two actresses wearing costumes and taking pictures with the kids at the Denver Aquarium. But you were not there, so technically, you can’t prove that they weren’t real live actual mermaids. And since I didn’t actually get close enough to get a good look at their tails, I can’t technically prove they weren’t real live actual mermaids.

So they might have been.

Anyway, as you’ve probably guessed by this time, my sister and I took a trip to the Denver Aquarium this weekend.

We saw a lot of fish.

Since we also ate lunch in the aquarium restaurant, we also ate a lot of fish, but we decided not to tell the other fish. Although . . . I think this one may have suspected something. He looks a little suspicious.

I also found out that my sister is the stingray whisperer. The aquarium has a touch tank for stingrays, and usually, they swim by the people and ignore them.

However . . . my sister stuck her hand in the water and they came running.

Er—swimming.

Something.

I don’t know if they thought she had food or is she just smells good or what, but they loved her and tried to eat her hand and her arm and maybe the rest of her. I think if we ever get stranded in the ocean together, I may swim about ten feet from her because she is apparently very attractive to sea life and I’m not totally sure that won’t extend to sharks and monsters.

 

Not that we’re likely to get stranded at sea. But still. Something to keep in mind for future adventures.

As I mentioned, we also had lunch in the aquarium restaurant, and guys—I had lunch with the fishes. Like, they had a tank inside the restaurant. A huge one. And since they were feeding the fish at the same time we were having lunch, we had lunch with the fish.

It was great.

I certainly didn’t expect it to be as crowded in the aquarium as it was, but despite a little trouble with parking and a long line outside the building, we had a blast. We are slowly attempting to get more acquainted with the beautiful state we live in, and our trip this weekend was definitely a step forward.

Do you have any aquarium adventures—or pictures—to share? Tell me about them in the comments!

Adulthood is a Myth

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My sister sent me an awesome birthday gift this week.

A Sarah’s Scribbles 2020 calendar entitled Adulthood is a Myth.

I felt that one to my soul.

Not only was it strange to remember that next year is 2020, but the calendar also has the added advantage of making me laugh at myself. Because adulthood is a myth. And I love it.

This last week was all about adulting for me. Getting up early when I didn’t want to, plowing through meetings and checking tasks off my to-do list, procrastinating on my writing and having to scramble to make up for it later.

You know. The kinds of things we all do.

Also, my tire went flat on Friday night. At work. I may or may not have changed it while still in a skirt.

Actually, forget that. I totally changed it while still in a skirt. Because I am an adult and that’s what an adult does when they’re off work and have a whole weekend ahead of them only to find they have to start said weekend off with a flat tire.

My work clothes ended up looking a little worse for wear.

See, my spare tire is caked in dust. Because I live on a dirt road. And I never wash my car.

Arguably my own fault, but there it is.

A very sweet older man offered to help me. I told him I was fine and that I could handle it. While trying to turn one of my lug nuts the wrong way.

In my defense, he startled me and I was flustered. So I can’t be responsible for my actions.

I think the poor man was worried I was crazy. He sat in his car for an uncomfortably long time waiting to see if I would finish. I would have let him help, only I was already halfway done and the rest was reasonably easy. No point in two of us getting covered in road dust just because I never wash my car.

In the end, it wasn’t as bad as it sounds. Since I always have my jack in the car and a spare, it’s easily fixed and done with. And I’m no stranger to having to fix my tires myself. One does, you know, when one has no boyfriend/husband to do such things. But Friday night—and most of the week—really showed me how easy it is to finish a day, arrive home, and . . . have nothing left for writing. No time, no energy, no creativity.

It’s amazing how quickly it happens. Sometimes, as a writer with a full-time job, good intentions just aren’t enough. Things have to be cut out in order to give oneself the time that’s needed.

Since I’m still deciding exactly what things are going to be cut out, I will get back to you on what I eventually do. But don’t be surprised if I suddenly drop off the planet for a month or two. I’m not saying that socializing will be the first thing I cut out to give myself the time I need. Of course not. That would be silly.

It may end up being the second thing, however.

How do you make sure you have time for the important things in your life? Tell me about it in the comments!