Monthly Words 03-31/03/2018

And the first monthly total is: 39702.

What am I doing?

What am I even thinking letting myself be so negative about not hitting 10k words a couple of weeks in a row? I mean it wasn’t even that negative, but it was nowhere near positive enough because holy fuck I have done so much!

This is incredible! I wrote so fucking much this month! And that’s just the writing I’m counting!

Holy shit, this initiative is already worth it. I didn’t finish a Nano’s worth of writing this month; I didn’t even hit 40k with that super-awesome writing week. But goddammit, I wrote a lot, in terms of both volume and frequency. And in fact, the frequency is the key thing. Volume comes and goes, but a habit is for life. I should know, considering how many bad ones I have been suffering the ill effects of for what feels like but has definitely not been my entire life up to this point.

My point is, this initiative is working. I had to go back and look over my previous Weekly Words posts to figure out how much I’d written this week, and in doing so I realised just what a freaking monumental effort this has been, and how well I’ve done considering the fact that, well, this is the first month. The first two weeks – I’m not counting the first Weekly Words in this monthly round-up because it was mostly just the end of February, although it was certainly a good week – have been golden, the second two less so, but that’s just because I have a 10k word-count goal per week. If it was instead 1k words per day, which I’ve found a goal too daunting to even attempt in years previous despite trying to work up the nerve to commit to it, I’m getting an E on my OWLs for Weekly Words, y’all. It’s amazing, from that perspective, to think of what setting a weekly goal as opposed to a daily goal can do. And, as I opened this post with the sentiment of, it is amazing what looking back on your progress to take in the bigger picture can do for your sense of accomplishment.

I have needed something like this so ridiculously badly for even more ridiculously long in my life. This is going great. I’m still keeping the word-count goal at 10k words per week, mostly because it’s motivating me to try and get writing done, regardless of how much of it I actually do get done. Doing it is more important than doing a lot of it – but, again, I have done a lot of it. I haven’t met my own expectations, but looking back over the month and considering the even bigger picture of my history with trying to impose discipline upon myself and my habits …

This has changed my life.

I finished a whole episode of my co-writing project in, like, 2 weeks, when the first episode took me about 3 months. I did writing 5 days a week for 5 weeks in a row, and other parts of my life improved at the same time. I went back to Tallulah and found that, actually, I can totally make it work; I even found a way to make Realm of the Myth work. There are things I didn’t do as well as I’d hoped – reading through Mark and Jessie’s Christmas in the two weeks I allotted to doing just that, for instance – but what I tried and failed to do I also learnt from. That was too tall of an order with the lack of experience in time-management I have, and it’s motivated me to get better at it going forward. I’ve started identifying the things that make me want to write, and how to make them happen for me, rather than just relying on my mood for writing-fuel.

And … just … this is good. This is very good. What an amazing idea this has been, already, only one month in. It’s ridiculous how negative I was being in the last post in retrospect; I’ve done so much this month, that even my negativity-steeped psyche can’t abide the thought of downplaying it just because the past couple of weeks have seemed like a downward spiral. They’re weeks. I’ve been alive for almost 31 years. I’ve got weeks for days.

I’m a writer, I can use words how I want.

And god, the fun I’ve had this week, too, just writing. I’ve done other fun things as well, such as playing D&D, but the joy I’ve gotten out of writing has been beyond what I could have even imagined, and I’m very grateful that I gave myself a reason to go back and remember it by writing this monthly wrap-up. It’s working. This initiative is working. I’m kind of blown away by the fact that I actually believe that, instead of finding some way to convince myself that it’s too good to last or some other angsty maladaptive bullshit like that. That’s what I’d expect.

I guess I’ve changed.

I am looking forward to continuing that trend. And more writing. God, I’m looking forward to writing. It’s been a while since I could honestly say that. Sometimes in life, you’re just too awesome to possibly not admit it. And for me, that time is now.

I’m the fucking man.

Not that I support the perpetuation of gender roles, but you get what I mean.

Weekly Words 25-31/03/2018

25/03/18: 2812. Yep, having a plan is important. This co-writing project, even without as much momentum as I had last week, is so much easier to sit down and write than anything else I’ve got going on just because I’ve got a plan to refer to when I get stuck. Even if I don’t end up writing any of my own projects this week, I think it’s important that I get a plan for each of them written down. I’ve had bad luck with over-planning in the past, but I want to reclaim that habit and turn it into a healthy one.

27/03/18: 28.

Shut up.

No okay but today was very big for me, in ways that I didn’t realise until the big thing about it was actually happening. Tonight was the last night of the personal development course I’ve been doing with Youthline for the past 9 weeks; there is a second part of it that I and almost every other person involved has signed on to do, so it’s not really a goodbye or anything, but it hit me tonight just how much of a difference it’s made to me, even though I don’t necessarily feel very different. I don’t think I would ever have done this Weekly Words thing without it, pushed myself this much or been able to break down my goals into manageable pieces quite so clearly. It’s been very confronting and on reflection I’m almost surprised I was never tempted to give up, because the middle portion of the course was very difficult for me. I felt lost and directionless, and like I was unable to contribute to the group as much as I wanted, or as much as other people were doing. But now, it feels like I’ve shifted so many blockages that have been holding me back for so long by going through that personal gauntlet. It’s got quite a smooth narrative progression to it, actually. I should put it in a book or something.

On the plus side – no more classes for a couple of weeks, so Tuesdays should no longer be dead writing days, at least until the second part of the course starts up.

28/03/18: 784. I did finish a scene in the co-writing project, so that’s definitely something to count.

However, more importantly for me: I have been slacking on my initiative to go back and re-read/make revision plans for my already-drafted books, and today I did get started on it. Amazingly, Tallulah opened up for me when I went back to look at what I had; the gunk that had been clogging my mind seems to have gone, and I have a new plan. I do mean new, too; the fancy new premise I had been toying with is now seeming not only new and exciting, but useful to help make this story actually feel like a story instead of a random sequence of thematically-related events. It does, however, mean that a lot of what I’ve written is kind of useless in terms of recycling material – but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it might be a great thing. I never did finish reading Mark and Jessie’s Christmas, though, and I’m not happy about that. So I will have to look at my plan again and see where I can fit it in – I’m feeling almost done with the new Tallulah plan except for a chapter-by-chapter map (that’s a big “except for”, I hear you say; trust me it’s the thinking part that takes up most of my time with my writing projects), so it’s entirely possible that I can just shift my focus to Mark and Jessie sometime before the 3rd, which is my cutoff date for Tallulah planning.

Plus … Wolf Gang just doesn’t seem salvageable anymore. I’m not sure why it ever did. I’ll still look at it and perhaps it will surprise me, but that book is just garbage, and becomes even more garbage the more I think about it. However, it is part of my plan, and while the plan has not gone according to … itself … so far, I aim to get back on track.

And to do more writing this week, because I do want to hit 10k regularly, because I have the time to do so.

29/03/18: 1351. Better. Still have like 6k words to make up this week, but at least I got some writing done today.

Let me explain: today, I had to get up far earlier than I am used to in order to be around for when the people who are going to upgrade our internet connection showed up. I was sitting around waiting for three and a half hours, and then another three hours once they arrived and were not quite able to install the internet hardware anyway, so they’ll be coming back on the weekend to finish up – they say it should only take half an hour, though today was only supposed to take up to two and a half hours, so we’ll see. My point is that I have not had the best day; it hasn’t been the worst either, but energy-wise I’ve had better.

I am also keenly aware of how much anxiety I currently feel about trying to write my own projects, and trying to get myself back into my Wolf Gang headspace, where I was able to put aside my perfectionist procrastinatory tendencies and just get the fucking writing done. It’s not working yet, and I think it’s because my ideas aren’t clear enough to run with in that way – I need a clearer vision than I currently have. And this is a huge problem for a lot of my projects, and has been for a while. Just a case of needing to get back into the groove, I think.

At least planning is still going okay, and I still think it’s going to help when I get it done. But I also know it’s just one of the reasons why the co-writing project is still going so well, even on my off days. The other reasons are because it’s fun, I have a clear vision for it that I’m invested in, and it’s fun. Did I mention it’s fun? Because it is. Co-writing – well, I guess it’s like anything else; it depends who you’re doing it with, but this is something I’m doing with a friend, we get on really well and are able to bounce ideas off each other and generate energy and motivation that way. It’s way harder to do that on your own. I still don’t know how to substitute it, and I think that’s going to be the next step – figuring out how to do that.

30/03/18: 4.

3/03/18: 4979.

I mean … yeah. It happens. It will continue to happen, every now and then. I’ve been trying this week to get myself to write some of my own stuff and deliberately de-emphasising the co-writing project as a result, and I think it only makes sense that therefore this week’s writing was hardly as productive as it has been in the past. It’s so easy to write. Everything I need to motivate me – external accountability, having someone else to bounce ideas and energy back and forth with, a clear, step-by-step plan for every segment I’m planning to write, fun – it’s almost silly how easy it’s been, especially since beginning this initiative.

However, the lack of writing this week has come with many upsides in other areas. And one of them is working out how exactly I want to approach my own projects. Jumping in and writing them isn’t working; planning isn’t working. But for one of them at least, I have found what I think is a perfect solution.

Realm of the Myth – it’s time to call it a day, one way or the other. Either I call it a day on the whole project, or I call it a day on meandering around and never committing to it enough to actually get it started. What helps me write is having a clear idea of what I want to do in a story. Not what I want to write, not ideas that I like thinking about; a sense of having something to do. With Realm of the Myth, that’s a handful of scenes.

So that’s what I’m going to write. I’ve had this idea in the past, and would normally be frustrated that I keep having to re-learn things about writing that I already know and that have already worked for me. However, I now realise that because I am such a terrible record-keeper when it comes to things that help me out, it’s actually just me remembering despite not ever writing them down in such a way that I’m likely to refer back to them. Which is good. Though also a hint that, seriously, I need to make a list of writing tips that I’ve worked out over the years and stick it on my wall or something.

And there’s no worst-case-scenario here, either. There are options, but they’re both good. In one scenario, I write these scenes, realise that there is nothing else I have any energy for regarding the project, and can at least walk away from it knowing that I wrote down the parts that I did have figured out, the parts that appealed to me. In the other, I write these scenes, realise that I really want to tell this story all the way through, and I have a project underway, half a lifetime’s worth of effort finally paying off with an actual goddamn book to write.

Trying to make these plans for my own projects is proving to be more difficult than I had anticipated. I think that’s the takeaway here. As well as the need to establish a more solid schedule for myself regarding the time and energy I spend planning my own projects versus continuing with the co-writing project, which is where the bulk of my writing is being done. I can do both. I think I have been putting too much focus on making myself not work on the co-writing project, when what I need to do is just deliberately put time aside to work on my own projects – which, at this point, is the planning stage. And I think scene-writing, going out-of-order and just writing down what I’ve got rather than trying to string it all together, is the key.

This week may not have had a lot of writing in it – well it is a lot of writing, just not as much as I feel I could do, which is what makes it disappointing – but looking back on it, it was also a learning week. I have learnt that I need a different approach to planning and working on my own projects, and to not sacrifice everything else I’m trying to do in the process. I need to establish boundaries, set up a healthy balance that is practical and I know I will actually do, rather than some lofty ideal of how I’d like it to go. The word-count goal may be part of that, but I’m going to keep it at 10k for one more week and just see how it turns out, now that I know what I need to do regarding my own projects – theoretically, it should meant that I don’t hemorrhage so much time not knowing how to approach them, and consequently spend more time writing.

Or, put more simply: I didn’t get as much writing done this week as I would like, but I did learn some valuable lessons about managing my time and energy in the process – and as far as I’m concerned, that is well worth the trade. It’s only a week. Or two. And in the grand scheme of things, I really have just gotten started with this initiative, so there’s no sense in getting upset about it yet. Difficult not to, but this project is about getting perspective as much as it is about getting writing done. I’m doing pretty well, considering that it’s still early days yet. This is just a hump. Once I’m over it – well, I’m over it.

So, it’s time to get over it.

Weekly Words 18-24/03/2018

18/03/18: 1558. Not a ton of writing done volume-wise, but had a fantastic brainstorming session with my friend with whom the co-writing is being done; she really helped me with a few key things I was really stuck with character-wise, and gave me a fantastic idea to work with in my current episode. I’m weirdly paranoid about using people’s actual names on this blog, but to said friend: thanks again, you are epic.

And then we played D&D, which I have not played since I was 18 and my useless at-the-time-best-friend was DMing and totally put me off for the next however many years. This time it was my co-writing partner’s boyfriend DMing, and the whole process was incredibly fun and engaging, even though most of it was just creating characters – I really do enjoy creating characters, in writing, acting and gaming, and D&D mixes all of that together. I’m pretty sure my character is nothing close to optimised, and as somebody who has spent a not inconsiderable length of time filling Word documents with homebrew revisions to the 5E ranger class over the past two years, I am pleased to find that I am very, very happy about this. It’s a great bunch of people, our characters already have pretty awesome chemistry, and there’s another player yet to join us. Looking forward to seeing how it all plays out! I might even go back to my D&D-inspired project off the back of this wave of enthusiasm.

19/03/18: 1594. A bit slower this week – however, to be fair, last week was very full-on, as I was striving to make up for lost time. It’s not the kind of performance I expect myself to put out every week, or even for one week every month. It was just a very nice bonus.

20/03/18: 1011. Finished up a difficult scene with the co-writing project that I’m still not happy with, but I reminded myself that it’s not about being happy with it at this stage, just about getting it done. I was going to do some writing of my own projects today, which did not happen, but I haven’t written anything on Tuesdays since I started this Weekly Words thing until today, so I’m going to focus on the progress that I have made instead of dwelling on things I wanted to do but didn’t.

21/03/18: 141. Hey, I wrote this Tuesday, so slumming it today feels fair. And it was even one of my own projects.

Here’s the reason why I didn’t write more: I realised that everything that was happening up to this point seemed more like a second book than a first. The main character is losing all of their stuff, which we haven’t seen them gain, so there’s no sense of significance – that needs to change. And a lot of things need to change in general. Yesterday I made myself embrace just writing the goddamn thing and not caring about it being good; today I’m realising that one of the reasons the co-writing thing is working so well is because my friend and I actually spent about a month plotting the entire season out before we started writing. Yes, we have certainly deviated from that plan in some quite major ways, but that’s not a testament to the quality of the plan. For me, it’s the fact that there is a plan, not what the plan is specifically, that helps. That and having someone else for accountability, which honestly is the big thing – but yes. I need to make a plan, break it down into manageable chunks, and then write it. I’m finding that, with regards to the whole planner/pantser thing, I can do either, but at this point in my life I am leaning hard towards planning, and I think I just need to do some of that for this book, and my other unfinished projects that I still haven’t gotten started on since I said I was going to recently. It could be that it doesn’t actually make a difference and I’m just overreacting to a lack of inspiration tonight, but I do know that the co-writing project is so much easier to write because there is a plan for me to follow whenever I sit down to write it, so I’m theorising that it will make things easier for me with my own projects if I also have a plan for them.

23/03/18: 2494. Well, I guess this balances out last week’s marathon effort; this week I’ve just felt pretty lacklustre in general. But hey, I wrote on a Tuesday for a change, and I had the same number of writing sessions this week as I have for all the others so far, so I’m not worried. I think my word-count goal of 10k words per week is a nice ambitious one, and one that I am going to hope for – but I also think that cramming in a bunch of extra words just for the sake of making up numbers is not as important as establishing a persistent, regular habit, and writing almost every day every week is that, regardless of how much is actually written during those sessions.

24/03/18: 6798. Wow, good thing I just said all that stuff disavowing the importance of actually meeting my weekly word-count goals, huh.

I’m not bothered. It’s been a pretty decent week in other areas; last week was very good for me, both in terms of writing and in terms of exercise, two areas that I’m really trying to focus on improving my consistency with this year. I can feel the threat of a slump coming, the low to last week’s high, but everything resets tomorrow, and that’s all right. I actually wonder if part of it had to do with playing that D&D session – it put me in a totally different headspace, and while I think that was a good thing, it definitely took my focus away from keeping up the writing.

But I also think it’s just a sign that I need to adjust to not having emotional fuel to rely on. Last week I was very motivated and energised; this week, not so much. Sat on my laurels a bit, let my indecision and lack of clear, appealing options lead me, and generally let my feelings – or lack thereof – take the reins. Well, that’s an important lesson. I do need a plan. Not just for each individual project I want to work on, but on what I’m going to write every day. I actually did have a plan yesterday and didn’t follow through with it, so that’s going to be my plan for Monday, or perhaps after the co-writing meetup tomorrow.

And no, last week’s more-than-60%-of-my-word-goal doesn’t “carry over”. Each week is a reset; I want to hit that word-count goal every week. I’m not going to agonise over it if I don’t, but I am going to try and see what I need to do in order to change it the next week. And I’m sure there will come a time where there’s nothing I can do, because life happens, and I do just need to write off a week. But last week wasn’t a write-off. It was a series of decisions to make things easy for myself. And there’s nothing wrong with that, except for the fact that I do have a goal that I want to keep hitting, and a promise that I made to myself at the start of this year, even if it doesn’t feel as immediate and crucial as it did in the moment. I need to get one of my books written this year. I need it. This co-writing project is not one of my books. I’m still enjoying it and looking forward to the revision process when it comes, but I have been neglecting my own work because it’s been so easy to work on. Well, this week it wasn’t as easy, and I think I needed a plan for leaning on my own work to pick up the slack.

I think it needs to be an open plan, too. Something clear and precise, but not rigid and overly specific – I don’t think “I will work on project X today” is good enough, because that shit is going to bore me to death long before those projects ever get written that way. I need something like a daily writing challenge to myself, and to use my existing projects to meet it. Any of them. A “write a scene where X happens” sort of deal. Or even looking at writing prompts in preparation. And I do think that I need to make plans for my projects as well. I work better with a plan. I can use them for self-generated writing-prompts, like “write the plot-twist” or “introduce the main antagonist” or something like that.

On the other hand that does sound like a lot of work – but hey, this is all about getting used to doing regular work. And I did at least write regularly this week, so that’s part of why I don’t feel too broken up about the word-count. That’s a realistic goal, regular writing. Perhaps 10k per week is not realistic for me; I had some great momentum and excitement to begin with, but that’s the same as any new project, and inevitably the novelty wears off. Going forward, commitment and creativity are going to have to be my batteries.

But for now, the time to reflect has ended. The time to continue is about to begin. And in the meantime, I just wanna chill. That’s what Saturdays are for, right?

That’s not a rhetorical question; I don’t really integrate with society so I actually have no clue what most people do on Saturdays. Comments welcome.

Weekly Words (11-17/03/2018)

11/03/18: 2542. Thought today was going to be a slow writing day due to a little bit of a timing hiccup with the weekly co-writing meetup with my friend/the other author, but it was a really good session despite the shorter than usual time. I still didn’t write very much during the session itself, but afterwards I found myself becoming very invested in exploring the characterisation of a particular character I’ve historically felt very insecure about writing, and their dynamic with another character who I find exceptionally easy to write. I returned to the scene I had started during our meet-up session, and ended up with the word-count listed above. It’s probably way too long, and the episode was originally meant to focus on other characters, but then again this is all first draft stuff – scenes can be moved, edited, rearranged and even entirely rewritten when it’s time to revise. Just gotta keep reminding myself of that. I also feel like I didn’t quite get the characterisation I was going for, but I do feel that it’s heading in that direction, which is good. Another thing that revision can help out with. Like, seriously, revision is the solution to all writing problems, at least when that writing is in the service of producing some kind of refined finished product.

12/03/18: 3310. Just intended to wrap up one scene, and ended up finishing all of act 2 of the episode I’m currently writing, which means just one act to go! Momentum is so strange to have after so long of not having it, in a good way. I actually find it hard to believe I’ve made this much progress in such a short period of time since I started measuring it, for this episode specifically. Another benefit of doing my Weekly Words so far: I am actually acknowledging and really feeling my own progress. Kind of the whole point; I just kind of can’t believe it’s actually working out that way. Man I’m pessimistic. But if this keeps up, I might not be for much longer! Evidence is great for perspective, and it’s even better when it proves something positive about yourself that you want to be true, which in this case is exactly what’s happening. I think I’m kind of in love with my arbitrary weekly word-count goal right now.

14/03/18: 3994. Big chunks of writing for this week; not really sure why that is, but certainly not complaining. I’m definitely noticing that this episode, like the last, starts to kind of drag itself out in the third act, and I’m not entirely sure what the reason for that is either. Especially since my plans for the episodes, which I break down by acts, generally have the third act as the shortest act. It’s probably dialogue, honestly. I have been cramming a lot of dialogue into these latest scenes, and not particularly well-thought-out dialogue either. But hey, first draft. Just gotta keep reminding myself. Also I’m 156 words away from reaching my weekly goal already! At this rate I might even hit a Nano’s worth of writing this month, and that would be an eye-opener.

15/03/18: 6961. I don’t even know what to say about this. I definitely wasn’t expecting it. I did, however, have to break a rule to achieve it: the reason I started writing today – I mean I have my daily writing commitment, but the motivation for me to start writing today – was because I identified a huge plot-hole in my episode plan, and decided that I had to write my way out of it. And from that came this deluge of writing today, in which I actually finished my episode. I am a little speechless at myself, I must admit. Sometimes, it takes me a very long time to get something done – and sometimes, I just get it done.

Also, without even waiting for tomorrow’s word-count, I’m currently at 16807 for this week. So yes, I’d say so far, Weekly Words seems to be working.

06/03/18: 123. Just to wrap up the week; I actually wrote a lot more than that, but it was all planning notes, and I don’t count those because they will never be published.

Though if I was going to count them, it would be an extra 3705 words, bringing my total for this week up to over 20k, which is pretty nice. Way over, if I actually counted everything I’ve written this week, because quite a lot of it was purely recreational.

This extra 3705 words comes in the form of my plan for the next episode, and it went longer than I was hoping it would. It took me most of today to finish it, actually, and I’m worried that I’ve over-planned for that reason. But oh well, I ended up taking some liberties with my last plan anyway, so I’m sure it’ll work out.

17/03/18: 16930. That was a week for writing, hot damn.

Didn’t get any of my own stuff written, but that’s fine – I will make a bit more of an effort next week, for one because I know I will feel it if I leave it for too long (I am starting to feel it right now), and for another because I know I will burn out on this co-writing project if it’s all I’m spending my writing time doing. I will also make more of an effort to re-read my completed-first-draft projects, as I have also made a commitment to doing. But this week was very rewarding just going all-out on the co-writing project, and beating my own goal of finishing my episode by the end of the month: I finished halfway through, so that’s awesome.

Also this week: more exercise than I’ve done for a long time. I’ve gone for my usual walk every weekday this week; I’m going to take the weekend off just because I kind of have things planned for tomorrow, and because Saturday is my Day Off Goddammit. Saturdays will never be spent doing anything Productive if I can help it – which, in itself, is productive, as it is conducive to good health, I feel. Gotta have some down-time, some me-time. Got some library books to read – and some D&D to play tomorrow, which I am looking forward to a lot. Trying to contain my min-maxing theorycrafter urges so that I can just get into the swing of playing an actual game and have some fun.

There Will Be Books

This Weekly Words thing is generative. I love that word. Works for so many situations that I want to describe.

I have gone back to reading Mark and Jessie’s Christmas for the next 2 weeks to finish making notes on it, so that I can make a revision plan for it. After that, I’m going to go back to Tallulah to finish making the revision-plan I got stuck on. Then I’m going to spend a week and a half marking the first assignment for the paper I’m marking at uni, and in the following 2 weeks leading up to my 31st birthday [insert scream of existential anguish here] I’m going to give my shitty YA werewolf novel the same treatment: read through, take notes, make a revision plan. This will all be done between today, the 12th of March, and the 26th of April, the day before my birthday, which will be a day off, leaving April 28th as the date at which I make the decision as to which of these projects I feel the most compelled to continue working on.

It works out perfectly time-wise, actually; I have exactly 2 weeks to spend on both Mark and Jessie and Shitty YA Werewolf Novel – god, I should really just tell you the name at this point; it’s called Wolf Gang – and then one week to spend on Tallulah, which I’ve done more revision-prep for anyway, and have exactly enough time to get through the papers I have to mark in a timely manner. It’s serendipity.

By December 31st, I am going to have a book either ready for revision, or ready for submission for publishing.

Those three projects have been chosen specifically because they already have a first draft completed, and in the case of Tallulah a second draft, plus revision notes ready to be picked up and looked at again. I’m working with what I’ve already worked on, because this is about giving myself the best chance of succeeding in this venture that I can.

I’m not going to stop my other projects. The co-writing project is a-go, and I have more momentum on it than I’ve had since we started writing it in November last year, so almost half a year ago. I’ve got a few other personal projects that I’m narrowing down to a list to make some determined progress on and see which of them I feel the most interested in pursuing long-term. I need a few things to be working on at a time writing-wise to not feel stifled; of course that in itself can end up being stifling, but for that reason I’m making my “main” projects the ones that have already got a lot of work put into them, at least a first draft’s worth, so that the other projects can be given more or less priority depending on how much mental, emotional, spiritual and physical bandwidth I have to spare.

What the hell is happening to me? Am I fucking organising my life? I think that’s what’s going on here, but it’s such an alien experience that I’m not quite sure.

But it’s happening, and it feels good. Attending this personal development course I’ve been doing for the past month-ish is perhaps the best decision I’ve ever made with regards to, like, personal development. That and seeking counselling when I got to university and finally realised I needed help working out my shit. And it’s given me so many interesting models to look at and think about, including SMART goals, which is an acronym that stands for a bunch of words I can’t remember but the gist of it is that it helps to make goals that are specific, have a way for you to measure your progress towards them, and that you know you can actually practically achieve. And before doing this Weekly Words thing, I knew that without the acronym, but just never really felt like there was a point in doing it. Now I see the fucking point, because I actually have shit that I want to get done this year.

And I feel like I can do it.

Also Mark and Jessie’s Christmas was torturous garbage the last time I tried to read through it to make notes, last year, and it’s no different this time around. Lots of skim-reading. I just want the big important key moments; the rest is just … there is so much fucking filler in this draft, and it is so painful to try and sift through for any meaning. But so far – I’ve only read and made notes on one chapter at this stage – skim-reading actually seems to be paying off, because just looking at those key moments I can see the potential that this story has to be actually-good. Which is what I was hoping for.

This is it. This is the year when I put into practice the dreams and fantasies and vague handwavey goals I’ve set for myself since I was 13 years old. There has been planning. There has been writing.

This year, there will be books.

Weekly Words (04-10/03/2018)

04/03/18: 2818. Had some hiccups with scheduling for today’s co-writing meetup, but it all worked out in the end. The internet is a very useful tool sometimes! Not only did I write almost 3k words today but I even finished the first act of the episode I’m currently writing, only a couple of days after starting it, which I feel very good about. The last episode took me about 3 months to write; granted I had a pretty good start with that one as well, but it still feels good to have some momentum again, and prove to myself that I can get stuff done. It definitely helps to have someone to write with for accountability purposes, even if you’re just writing at the same time online, rather than in person.

05/03/18: 2786. I wrote some of my project, and it was pretty fun. I feel the importance of keeping up with a project right now, mostly because of how hard it was to get started again. I’ve got to make a habit of this, keeping in touch with my various projects if I’m at all interested in progressing them, even if I’m not sure how much I’m willing to commit to them. I am already thinking of the first revision pass, and I think I need to write down my ideas so that I’m not forced to put them aside while writing the current draft, which just needs to get written. Got to keep reminding myself of these basic useful things that I know work. Writing is always more than just making words appear.

07/03/18: 67. Had dinner with friends tonight after a bit of a hiatus catch-up wise, which was good, but was so tired afterwards. Made myself do some writing just so that it got done. Will put in actual effort tomorrow, especially now that my latest WOW subscription has run out. There’s a new expansion due in September, and I think until then I have well and truly had my fill of that game. Also been thinking about my own project, re-thinking the start and introduction and especially the main character. They’re a transplant from Realm of the Myth, the anti-hero/foil character who I am very emotionally attached to but have not actually had a ton of experience writing, and I have to be honest, they don’t feel like they suit a leading role. I will ponder this. It might be best to re-write what little I have, just to reduce the amount of reworking I’ll have to do later in terms of the actual story … but then again, revision is supposed to be a process of reworking anyway. I think the better thing for me to do is treat this like a rough proposal, and rather than worrying about having to undo all of my hard work later down the line, just get it written really quickly so it doesn’t feel like as much of a setback. Really want to get used to just writing and not worrying about making it “good” during the first pass, get into the habit of giving myself something to work with and building up momentum for a long-term project that might transform quite drastically over the course of revision. I want to embrace that level of potential change. But at the same time, I want to start from a place of clarity, and I don’t really have that right now with this story. Not quite sure what the best way to proceed is – but I think that’s probably not helpful right now, either. I just need to get it done, in whatever shape it turns out to be, and just accept the fact that this might be a lot of damn work, and embrace that.

08/03/18: 819. I very almost didn’t write today either; I have been getting back to my library books – volumes 2 and 3 of the Kitty Norville series by Carrie Vaughn, which I am enjoying immensely and is making me very keen to return to writing werewolves in some form or another, no pun intended – but I’m glad I did some writing. It’s a scene I’ve been dreading writing, not because it’s particularly long or anything, but because it’s a complicated character interaction and I had to think of what to express through dialogue, what to leave unsaid, and what would suit the characters in that regards. I’m not sure I made the right decisions, but I also think that I really do need to force myself to get used to this whole “leave it until revision” philosophy of writing stuff, so I’m taking that as a positive – a challenge to my inner perfectionist, and an opportunity for me to gain better control over it. Also, I rediscovered the song “Bootylicious” today, and can’t really fathom how teenage me didn’t really like it when it was originally released. That song is amazing.

09/03/18: 4505. This co-writing episode is coming together much, much faster than the last one, and I am very happy about that. I had a lecture to attend as part of my marking job for uni this morning, so it’s been a long day, but I think that was actually good for my writing today in a way – did a bunch early in the afternoon after I got back, took a long break, and did the rest later this evening. I ended up enjoying a lot of the ideas that I had for the scenes that I wrote, which is nice; normally I’m just stressing about trying to “get it right”, but I felt more inspired and energised about it today. I think it’s one way I can control and redirect my inner perfectionist, letting myself indulge in ideas that I really like as opposed to criticising the ideas that I have for not being good enough. I did want to write some more of my own stuff this week, but at the same time I really like most of what I’ve been able to do with this co-writing project, and regardless of how much I liked writing it it’s getting written, which is the important part.

10/03/18: 10995. Totally forgot to update on time, but hey, writing!

At this rate I would not have finished Nanowrimo by the end of the month; but by the end of the year … that’s a lot of words.

I’ve been doing this for two weeks, and I think it’s great. I am finding myself looking at my progress over a period of time as opposed to just in the moment (especially when I’m feeling like I’m not doing anything with my life), which was the whole point, and it feels good, which was the other whole point. I’ve actually noticed that I don’t really have to push myself too hard to meet the 10k word goal each week, or not so far anyway. I have certainly gotten myself up out of bed or torn myself away from YouTube or gaming to do writing instead, but it hasn’t felt like the monumental, torturous task that it often does. I always say that habits are powerful, but living the proof of it is still quite eye-opening.

More writing today, as it is Sunday. I’ve been feeling a bit of overlap between my current project and another one that’s been on the back-burner for a little while, which has actually turned out to be good, because now I’m determined to differentiate them from each other more. And I have been on a roll with my parts of the co-writing project since starting this initiative. I have also found that my “sick day” idea, plus designating Saturday as the “weekend” for this semi-work-week schedule I’m trying to stick to, is a very useful one in practice, because sometimes the days I think are going to knock me out end up energising me, and the ones I think will be a cakewalk with regards to getting some writing done turn out to be write-offs. And I do need Saturday off. This is self-directed work in the midst of copious amounts of free time, with no fixed schedule to stick to, just a weekly word-count and a vague “write something every day 5 days a week” goal, and already I’m starting to appreciate why most of the working world lives for the weekend.

And I even did exercise this week. Don’t know if that’s related to this new, burgeoning habit of self-regulation or not, but hey a plus is a plus.

Long story short: it’s going good. Gives me hope for getting other self-directed initiatives up and running – but one step at a time. And this is a big step for me.

Weekly Words (25/02-03/03 2018)

And the first grand total is: 11876. Nice.

It was going to be, like, 7k words less than that, until I decided to count the writing I’d done the Sunday before I announced this initiative, because I’m going to be counting Sundays as part of this initiative. And I did a lot of writing that Sunday, specifically catch-up writing. I also ended up taking 2 “sick days” though, but that was partly because yesterday was just garbage overall in terms of going smoothly. It wasn’t a bad day, just chaotic, and it took a lot out of me. I think in future, though, I’m still going to make the effort to write something, like a single word, on those kinds of days. Habits are important.

What I think I’m going to do is actually build these weekly posts up over the week so that every writing day I actually check in and report a bit about that day’s writing, and at the end of the week I’ll have a more informative, multi-snapshot sort of post to share, instead of trying to recollect everything on the Saturday. Efficiency for the win.

So, what was written? Well, the co-writing project, exclusively. Last week’s post was going to be counted, and I’m still considering it, because these are published pieces of writing after all. But for now, I’m excluding blog posts, just because it’s not the kind of publishing I’m thinking of.

I am a bit disappointed that I didn’t write anything more on any of my own projects, and I’m going to take that as a lesson that I need to make myself do that next week. One of the main goals of this initiative is for me to look at my progress over an extended period of time, so giving myself things to look back on and appreciate seems like a very good idea.

All in all, though, that is a lot of writing, and even more than that including all the stuff I wrote that I’m not counting because there is absolutely no way it will ever be even considered for publishing. I’m liking this so far.