Starting over

Here we go again! It has been NINE YEARS since my first go at National Novel Writing Month, and though I used to take a crack at it every year, I eventually stopped trying. Not every exercise is good for every moment, and I have found myself suffering severe brain drain in the month of November.

A black, old-fashioned typewriter on a dark wood surface. The left side of the photograph fades into darkness.
Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

This time, I’m saying, “Fuck it,” and choosing to have fun with it! I am reviving my old fantasy novel with a new outline and a goal of 50,000 words by November’s end. I’ve been idly adding to the “Research” folder in Scrivener when ideas for backstory strike me, and I’m ready to start doing something with all of that worldbuilding.

To set the scene: our story takes place in a world where magic is divided into colours and oaths can bind one to their word. One man seeks to escape a punishment that does not fit his supposed crime, a promise he made contrecœur, and he will travel the land in search of his remedy. Expect colour theory, queer sex, and genderfuckery!

“What, NaNo AGAIN? What about my cuddles?”

I won’t be keeping the fun to myself: I will invite those interested to join me on Patreon for updates and a weekly reading of my favourite tidbits. Stay tuned for further news of this wild adventure on the road to 50,000 words! Let me know about your project, NaNo or otherwise, in the comments! đź“Ą

Structure

I know I’m not the only one struggling to build my own routine right now. I envy disciplined people who can set up calendars and stick to them: a time for meditation, a time for exercise, a time for enjoying nature while constantly being aware of how close the nearest person (vector‽) is.

I can’t do the calendar thing, at least not all in one leap. I have a weekly entry for these blog posts, and whatever zoom meeting is coming next. I have added regular times for exercise in the past, but too often I ignore the recurring events and after a couple of weeks, I delete them.

It feels prudent to examine why I have failed before I attempt the same strategy once more.

My trouble with isolation has been that there is rarely an obligation which requires me to set an alarm. Consequently, my waking time has varied dramatically. I know from experience that I feel best when I sleep around 2:00 or 3:00am and wake about eight hours later, but in April I had great difficulty waking up before three in the afternoon.

May has been better, and I’ve been going to bed at more reasonable hours (it was not uncommon to see dawn last month). I’ve even set a recurring alarm Monday through Friday for 11:00am. I have settled into a morning routine of texting, reading news and checking out social media, then preparing coffee and breakfast.

On good days, breakfast takes place at my desk with my calendar and to-do list open so that I am aware of my goals. Drafting or editing blog posts is easy, and I’ve been very good at keeping my desktop organized so my projects are within reach. My desk has become a space where I come to work, which makes it easy to open a notebook or document and get to it.

Then there are days where I float to the living room with my coffee and get pulled into my phone again. I am trying to train myself to put it facedown more often, so that I can’t see the silent notifications appear on the screen. (But what’s the covid case count, will business opening increase it, is it safe to go outside… there are so many reasons why my brain wants me to check my phone at all times, including “Did that cute boy reply to my text?”)

I am going to put more energy into having my days be good. That might mean adopting a morning stretch routine where I drop out of bed onto a yoga mat and start my day feeling my body, or going from breakfast into the shower. Apparently I crave a physical warm-up, and I know better than to dismiss the link between the mind and the body.

I’ve done things backwards today. I’m going to click “schedule” and have a steamy shower. I’m staying indoors again today, I already had an encounter with heat exhaustion Monday and I am taking care not to repeat the experience. A jog can wait for a drop in temperature. Stay cool, and stay safe.

Let’s build some momentum!

Patreon is live! I have managed to secure one entire patron! She is also my sister and thus has already put up with far too much of my nonsense. Thank you, Kiera! ❤

I have also managed to write a poem, which was fun. It was easy to take my current frustrations (my cell phone) and turn them into something that had an interesting flow. I hear there’s another Breathing Space coming up, maybe I’ll put a few together and share them in public. It’s bracing.

I’ve been focusing on being more active in my notebook. When I’ve worked desk jobs, it was always open and ready on my desk, and I’ve written down some interesting things since I’ve started. I can use my notebook when I’m at home as well, and for more than just the tarot card of the day. I’m actually writing this post from a bullet list I made in my notebook and posted to Patreon (because I have no idea what kind of content people want to see, so I’m trying things and this one turned out really practical!).

Goals for the next week include increasing my word count on Claire, exploring poetry a bit more, and maybe doing something that is neither to practice my flexibility. I could set a date for myself to hang out in the Atwater Library and do some writing sprints. It’s just so hot all the time!

Short update!

So fluctuating confidence is a thing for me, but by this point I’ve done enough that I’m able to consistently remind myself that I’m not lacking in accomplishments. I have been producing content in the form of short stories, oral performances, and a good chunk of a rough draft of a novel. Yes, I worded that intentionally.

I am working on things, and I am gonna get off my ass and come here to talk about it once a week. I want to hold myself accountable, as well as motivate myself to continue this momentum. It’d be pretty fucking embarrassing to come here week after week with my hands in my pockets going, “Um, well folks y’see, it’s been a really busy week, and…”

No. I have got shit to do and it’s time to get to work.

I have Shut Up & Write this Saturday—actually, I forgot to register, so I’ll sleep in and write at home. In my office. With the silly, colour-changing lights I like so much. I’ll put some music on the google home and increase my word count.

I’ve been looking at Patreons, wondering how and why I might want to make that work for me, and I’ve decided to put one together. I’m making myself a commitment to set that up and come talk about it more next week.

It’s part of my plan to motivate myself to express myself through poetry a bit more often. Lately, if I’m feeling a particular way and it gets dialed up to eleven, I tend to put down a few lines and then look away and pretend they didn’t happen. Probably because the poetry I wrote in high school was absolutely overblown and florid and saccharine. Well, hopefully I’ve developed some taste since then, and a weekly poem isn’t too much to offer people in exchange for money. It also sets up some structure (more motivation, yay!) and gives me a place to potentially share tidbits I’d rather not put out for the entire public to view. Only interested, paying parties.

Um, but like I said, I’ll talk about that more next week. Ideally with a video is what I’m thinking.

That’s probably enough to get done in a week’s time. Stay tuned for the update! I swear!

Big Goals, Little Goals

Rather than actually writing, I thought I’d come here and write about writing!

A curious thing happens to me on days off where I stare at the computer and refresh various social media sites in some sort of attempt to amuse myself. Hours go by. The sun sets and I feel that I have utterly wasted another day at home.

Today, at least, I’ve had Dabble open. I corrected a typo. I did not write anything new, however.

I have previously discussed with my therapist my difficulty with motivation. Logically, I understand that Motivation, much like Inspiration, is a fickle friend and it’s best to learn how to begin things without either of them. My therapist suggested I set myself a small task, and one of two things would happen: having completed the task, I would feel a sense of accomplishment. Then perhaps, the fact of having gotten started might give me the momentum to continue on past my initial goal.

If that doesn’t work, it’s no big deal. At least I would have accomplished the lesser goal I set for myself.

NaNoWriMo sets out a rather intimidating objective: 50,000 words in 30 days. It’s easier done when broken down: 1,667 words per day. Write every day. Write even if you’ve fallen behind, or skipped a day, or aren’t where you feel you should be.

Side note: “should” is a terrible word, and anytime I use it I feel my rebellious spirit telling me that “should” is made-up and I can do whatever I want.

So here are a few hundred words about my struggle to create momentum, and now that my fingers have limbered up, it would be a shame not to continue typing away. Even if I don’t break 1,000 words, at least I will have written today. Even if I don’t win NaNoWriMo, I will have a pile of words that I didn’t have in October. That’s something to celebrate.

What a year it’s been

It’s been more than a year since I’ve done any sort of semi-regular posting. I have had difficulty keeping hold of the focus that allowed me to write Yggdrasil and create this blog. I’ve finally come to admit the truth to myself:

I have a problem with boys.

I am desperately afraid of being alone, to the point that I put all of my energy into the search for the next guy. Once I find someone interesting and interested enough, I pour my energy into making that work. My social life slumps, my apartment becomes a cluttered mess, but everything’s okay because I’m positively smitten.

I’ve been single for a few weeks now. It’s pretty scary, actually. There’s this wild mix of emotions and doubts, the very thing I’ve so successfully run from in the past. I’m teaching myself to embrace this chaos and find my voice in the midst of it all. I’m off of meet-up (let’s be honest, hookup) apps, because I know my standard pattern:

“Oh, he’s cute.” We chat a bit. “Ooh, he’s interesting!” We chat some more, perhaps meet up. “Omg, there are stars in my eyes!” And so begins another doomed relationship.

There’s a book I’ve read a couple times called the Velvet Rage by Alan Downs. Both times, I took the same thing from it: I need to do what makes me happy, what makes me feel fulfilled. Writing is that thing for me. Though I’ve made plans, I haven’t come back to writing in any meaningful way.

That changes now. I am vowing to come back here, week after week, and reestablish the rhythm I once had. I have a book to finish, I have ideas for other books, I have a need and a desire to express myself creatively. That’s Goal #1: update this blog weekly, more goals to follow.

As for the boys, I’m telling myself I can’t date until I write another novel. It’s high time I put my personal projects and ambitions ahead of the search for love.

The schedule is working, mostly

 

My schedule is going very well so far! I’ve embarked on week three of my couch-to-5k program; it remains challenging without being impossible. I haven’t been as diligent as I’d like in terms of music or writing, but it feels good to have something back on track.

I did give the ending of Climbing Yggdrasil a good look. It’s rushed and a bit sloppy, and certain elements come out of nowhere. This last will be fixed by a major edit, that idea of tying together a couple of suggestions into something new. I’ve printed out my chapter outlines and made some notes, now all I have to do is open up Scrivener and start changing things.

I like the idea of little exercises, though. Something apart from the main project to keep my fingers flexible. I also like the idea of getting a bit more interactive with readers, so I’m putting a form here where I encourage you to submit a one-word prompt. I’ll take the three that interest on inspire me the most and come up with a short (500 words or so) piece stringing them together.

Planning the future

There is a fine line between allowing myself time to set my life back in order and loafing around. It is useless to wait for things to fall into place while I play Final Fantasy XIV for hours and hours on end. While it is acceptable to work on one thing at a time, actual work must be done.

There are several things that I want to keep in more or less good condition if my life is to be a happy one. When I run out of motivation or energy, work is the only one I can really seem to keep going, and only thanks to necessity; I screw up work, I cannot afford to eat. Yet there are many other important elements that add up to a good quality of life: getting enough sleep, maintaining a clean home, a healthy body, continued creative expression, and I could go on.

plan 2015

I’ve selected four of these areas that I’ve been neglecting: cleaning, exercising, blogging, and playing guitar. Notice “writing” is distinctly absent from the list, more on that later. I’ve already done a mad blitz in my room, vacuuming while a load of laundry washes downstairs. I even moved my bed away from the wall to vacuum underneath it, and briefly considered rearranging my furniture; that can wait until another time.

Jogging was the easiest to schedule. The couch-to-5k program I’m following calls for three days a week with rest days in between, so before work on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday is perfect. This has been the plan since the new year rolled around, but I’ve been lax in getting to bed at a decent hour on Sunday nights, and once Monday is skipped, it’s all-too-easy to put the whole thing off till next week.

For blogging, I’ve always favored Thursdays. I’m going to work during the week to have a post queued up to go live on Thursdays at 6:00pm Eastern (GMT -5:00). VoilĂ ! Here’s the first of many more to come!

Music should be often enough that my fingers retain their calluses. It’s so annoying wanting to play guitar a little more but having to stop because of the pain. Pain caused by my own negligence, adding insult to injury. I really enjoy making music and I think some new songs would help me get back into it with gusto.

Writing is a little trickier to plan. I’ve decided that Climbing Yggdrasil is coming out this year, and to do that I have to make some major content edits. My sister asked some questions, my friend Jess made some suggestions, and between what they said was a brilliant idea that ties up a few dangling threads and changes the shape of the story for the better. This makes it a bit difficult to say, “I want to have five chapters a week edited!” I suppose a good starting goal would be to identify which chapters need to be changed and where new content needs to be fitted in. For this week, my writing goal is to reread Climbing Yggdrasil paying special attention to this.

Come back next week to hear how well this worked or how it all fell apart!

A new year

2014 was definitely a very interesting year for me. The majority of this blog happened in 2014, and although the latter months of the year saw a sharp decline in my posting (sorry!), I haven’t forgotten how useful this can be as a motivational tool. Naturally, one of my resolutions for the new year is to update more regularly, write more often, and get more done than I did last year.

I can only use the excuse of “my life changed” for so long. It’s time to establish a new, healthy rhythm that sees me working on what really moves me, getting my stories out there. I need to turn Climbing Yggdrasil into Climbing Yggdrasil; somehow, it doesn’t seem appropriate to italicize the title until the damn thing is out there, published, where people can get their hands on it and rip it apart.

new year thumbs up

I believe I can set three concrete goals without placing the bar out of reach:

  1. Publish Climbing Yggdrasil
  2. Finish the rough draft of another novel (Project Destiny, mayhaps?)
  3. Post regularly (weekly, at least) to this blog

Some vague goals would include read more, write more, branch out, experience new things, etc. I’ll be back soon with news. Until then, Happy New Year, everyone, and may it be better than the one before.

Destiny-oriented goals

I managed to not write a single word for Destiny last week. Granted, I covered lots of ground on Yggdrasil and wrapped up my second draft. This is perhaps the danger of running two projects at once: one may get casually tossed aside so that the other can make a huge leap forward. Since Yggdrasil is now on standby until I get a new proof to attack, this week’s goals are much simpler:

goals 2014-07-21

Lots of work on Destiny to make up for having tossed it aside last week. I cannot afford to lose any momentum here, I need to keep moving forward and get this story to some sort of suitable ending. I can’t start this thing over anymore, unless it’s to revise a first draft. I’ve got a good head start, and I’m ready to build on it.