Definitely hit a snag today in terms of direction, not so much with writing as with just everything. Much as I was exulting in my plan-less-ness yesterday was far as Bad Guys is concerned, I do think that I need a bit more of a plan in terms of just getting the writing done. That being said, I did make a plan once I realised that I was lacking structure; I just found it really difficult to make myself stick to it. But that’s okay. I have my writing goal for this week, which I could easily hit tonight by doing a bit more writing but I’m going to leave it instead because … well, because I feel like it. Things feel very hard right now and I kind of want them to be hard. I want an excuse to not have to write at this moment.
I wonder why?
Oh right I have my psychologist appointment this Wednesday and, because I’m me, I am freaking out about it. I tend to freak about a lot of things that probably don’t warrant it, and it interferes with my ability to live a normal and healthy life. I should probably see someone about it.
I just feel … unprepared. How can you “prepare” to see a psychologist, anyway? Aren’t they supposed to be the ones to get you prepared for life and shit? Why is the onus of responsibility on me to get my shit together? That’s what the psychologist is for!
I don’t know which of the several/innumerable neurotic processes that masquerade as a psyche in this brain of mine is responsible for this spoke of panic and dread, but what I do know is that I need some self-care, stat. Thankfully, Stranger Things 3 is out on Netflix now, and since I do keep trying to force myself to chill out while watching Netflix (no but actually) …
I am actually really looking forward to working on Wolf Gang on Wednesday. And hey, I didn’t even think of that; that can be my reward for surviving my psychologist appointment. Nice work, extremely dysfunctional brain.
Oh well. I did get some writing done, and now I feel a bit better about how today has gone. I feel like I need to have been more productive with my life in the time between this psychologist meeting and the last, like I need to impress them with my initiative that I don’t have that I’m seeing them to help me improve with.
And I know that I can’t logic myself out of this little panicky hole, so I’m just going to stop trying and, instead, do something nice for myself. Hell, maybe I’ll go do some more work on the Wolf Gang novella that I still haven’t finished because I can’t think of how to end it; it’s not that I don’t know what happens, it’s that there’s no natural stopping-point for the events that I’m trying to present as a story. Guess this is a project that might actually need a step-by-step plan.
Not something for tonight, then.
I am getting that fucking trophy.
Technically I didn’t earn it, because that one word was written at 00:02 a.m., but it was updated to my Camp Nano word-count at 11:59 p.m., and as far as gamification algorithms are concerned that’s all that matters. And hey, I did actually write the word, and to me the day ends when I fall unconscious, not when some stupid clock tells me it ends.
Today has been an exercise in why planning is useful even when you don’t actually stick to the plan. My plan for today was to brush up on my “homework” that my psychologist gave me during our first session, which I will probably do on the drive over tomorrow before I go, or right after I finish writing this entry before going to bed. I was going to brush up, and I was going to make some notes based on my responses to that homework, and use that exercise as a warm-up to me making a list of the things that are at the forefront of my thoughts when thinking about what I want to get out of even seeing a psychologist in the first place. I need this to work.
More than that, I need me to work. I need to do what it takes to put myself in the best possible position to take advantage of this opportunity, blah blah blah, maximise potential, god I hate what has happened to me as a person on pretty much ever conceivable level, when the fuck did I get this way, how the fuck did I get this way, was this inevitable or was there something I could have done to prevent it like joined a sports team and learnt the value of alpha male aggression by way of male privilege maybe then I’d feel like I had some sort of intrinsic worth as a human being it would be a lie of course but what’s the harm in believing a lie if it gets you through the day that’s what our entire society is predicated on anyway right go do your shitty job that doesn’t fulfill you where you aren’t treated with respect and never will be and that makes you a Productive Member of Society because you contribute to The Economy by producing toxic waste labelled as “fast food” for people to pay money for the right to legally consume man why am I sad that I can’t even think about going to a job interview without getting triggered again I should be fucking ecstatic that this shit seems to be inimical to my psychological makeup I’m living the real truth out here that’s what social anxiety is I’ve finally figured it out it’s not that I’m unable to function like a normal human being because I’m irrationally afraid of people it’s that the world is a fucking shithole and I’m supposed to be okay with it well let me tell you something buster –
… and, like, I want to appreciate how Stranger Things 3 tries to do something a bit more original and break away from the whole ’80s retro pastiche nostalgia-cash-in that made it so popular to begin with, except that at this point while there are still plenty of references they’re not incorporated particularly well in many cases and the season 4 teaser ending just really highlights how it should have been a one-season show to begin with, just hit that nostalgia button hard and then leave it alone and not turn into another fucking endless franchise, the magic is gone is what I’m saying and while I did enjoy ST3 I can’t say I’d be sad to hear that a potential season 4 had been cancelled, shoutout to Cary Elwes though I can’t not love the shit out of that glorious man.
So I don’t want to see my psychologist tomorrow, and I didn’t do any of the preparations that I told myself I was going to do after panicking about it over the weekend and the past couple of days …
And it’s fine.
It’s good, even.
Because fuck it, I don’t know how the fuck you See A Psychologist; I’ve never done this before, and I don’t know if I’m doing something wrong by not being more prepared or if it’s exactly right that I shouldn’t be trying to prepare or know what’s expected of me on my end as the person trying to improve or recover or whatever the shit it is I’m supposed to be doing in my role as client/patient/whatever …
So the only issue, really, is the panic.
And I’m not panicking anymore.
Because I spent the day watching ST3, and it was fun. I enjoyed myself. I also got flying in the latest WOW expansion, after two weeks of daily quest grinding, and I achieved the in-game money milestone I was aiming for, and got to the point that I’ve been to many times before by now which is that, okay, I’ve reached the goal of being able to pay for more game-time not with real-life money but in-game money, this shit is great … if I want to keep playing WOW. Where my goal is to make enough in-game money to keep playing WOW. Where my goal is to make enough in-game money to keep playing WOW. Where my goal is to you know I think I may have a problem …
I had a plan.
I didn’t follow it.
But, I’m pretty sure it’s fine, and maybe even good. I just needed a way to control my panic, and the plan did that – not doing the plan, just having the plan. And sometimes that’s enough.
Mind you if I had been given an actual homework assignment or something then I would have done it but I wasn’t it was just very broad and general and I already completed it anyway I think I just panicked because I always panic and thought “hey I’m not doing enough there has to be something else I’m meant to have done by now this is totally a real problem that requires me to try and find a solution for it”, when really …
Yeah, I dunno. Maybe today was just a sign of how deeply dysfunctional and maladjusted and unable to participate in what we know as Real Life and I should have stuck to the plan and, more to the point, have been better-prepared long before today, or even this week, or even this month, this month has only been a week long look you know what I mean. I could be wrong. I have no idea.
I just know that I’m not panicking now, and it’s because I had a plan. Not because I followed the plan. Sometimes, the plan works because you follow it. But other times, the plan works because it gets you started. And sometimes that’s all you need the plan for.
And that’s how I feel. Yes, perhaps I did sabotage myself, but I genuinely don’t feel like I did. I think I handled this rather well.
This is a writing blog. I write about writing. Trust me on this.
Revision: I forgot
I had a day today.
Of course when I say that, it’s probably about a tenth of what most people mean when they say they’ve “had a day”, but still, everything’s relative.
Saw my psychologist, had a really good session though it’s still clear we have a lot of ground to cover, did some soul-searching that I’m still sort of processing the potential ramifications of and trying not to jump to any conclusions …
And I had a Discord conversation with someone in my WOW guild that lasted for, like, an hour.
I don’t really know who I am anymore.
Okay that’s maybe a bit of an exaggeration, but maybe it’s not. The reason I had this conversation was because I was trying to get into a dungeon run with a group, and this person was trying to put the group together. I don’t do that, as in play WOW the Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game with other players; the very idea of using a voice chat program terrifies me – and yet, today, it just didn’t. I decided that I actually wanted to get into this dungeon, and was willing to jump through the hoop of installing (and learning how to use) Discord in order to do so, because … well, that’s what’s bugging me. I don’t know what it was about today. Maybe it was the therapy session giving me more of a boost or change in perspective than I’d anticipated; maybe I finally just wore out my own reluctance to take certain risks in order to get what I want out of WOW.
In any event the group never actually came together so we’re thinking of trying again tomorrow, so we just chatted. More like he chatted and I listened, and it was quite surreal, and reminded me of being a teenager growing up with the internet as this brand new unexplored territory where all sorts of crazy shit could happen and the possibilities were endless and there were people online and you could talk to them. It’s been a trip. I’m questioning the very core of my identity.
I forgot today was Werewolf Wednesday.
But I also think that’s fine; tomorrow can be ‘Thrope Thursday or something, if I really must be so anal as to retain my alliteration-based organisation schedule. I definitely think that planning around needing time to recover from my psychologist appointments in future will serve me well. I also did actually do quite a lot of writing today, it’s just that it was all taking notes and writing out my thoughts after the session, debriefing and processing and whatnot. This might just be a slow week for writing as I take the time to regain my equilibrium and try and endure my confrontation with a few difficult questions I’m asking myself right now.
But, hey, that’s life sometimes. It’s not like I’ve never done anything “wild” before, even with really bad social anxiety (though maybe “wild” is a bit of an exaggeration), and perhaps this conversation with a person I met online will be the one huge life-threatening risk that I take this year and now I’m back to being a hermit again. I feel frustrated that I’m still on this same goddamn chapter with Bad Guys, the first chapter, and that I could have been so much farther ahead with just a little bit more discipline or motivation or whatever …
But it’s fine.
And I miss my werewolves.
This might just be a recovery week for me. That’s okay. We all have those. Therapy is hard.
I think plans are definitely important, though. I have made up my mind. I tend to think of plans as things that take the long-term into account, far-reaching organisational schemes that encompass the entirety of a project, task, undertaking, whatever it is that you’re using the plan for. But I realise now that that’s not the only kind of plan there is, and particularly in my case, short-term plans – the kind of plans that get made on the day, for instance – are the ones that work for me and my writing. At least with Bad Guys. And I didn’t do that today, so I spent far too much time distracting myself with Youtube and …
Yeah. It’s fine. It happens. I assume I will eventually get used to seeing a psychologist and not be totally bottomed-out for days at a time after each session, but clearly that’s not where I am at right now. And hey, I may have only written 583 words today, taking me up to a total of 11,547 words on day 11 when the goal if I want to reach 50k words by the end of the month is 17,741, but I finished the chapter at long, long last and can now move on to I hate this fucking project I don’t want to write it anymore it’s not fun it’s not exciting it’s not doing the things that I want it to do why did I ever think this was a good idea why do I ever think any of my ideas are good I should just go sit under a beached boat and wait for it to fall on top of me maybe that would “feel like a story” enough for my liking …
I think it might be time for a time-skip, except that, goddammit, this project actually seems to require thought. I don’t want it to require thought. It’s just … so much is missing. So many opportunities aren’t being taken; so many elements aren’t being developed or explored or even acknowledged as I write right past them like they’re not even there. So many references gone un-referenced. I’m writing a story called Bad Guys for fuck’s sake; how can this not be the most fun I’ve ever had with a writing project?
I don’t think I need a plan for the plot; I think I need a plan for how the fuck to actually write this project at all. Yes, I’ve dumped 11.5k words into it so far, that is quite a bit, and taking my own advice would suggest that I just keep on truckin’ and not give credence to this pedantry – but at the same time, at least some of my anal retentive perfectionism is being triggered by the fact that I can almost feel the fun I’m missing out on by writing this book the way that I am.
On the other hand …
This is a zero draft.
Maybe I just need to calm down.
I felt like a fraud yesterday for doing something out of character for me that I would, ideally, like to feel that I’m able to do if I want to; I feel like a fraud today for being disappointed with the zero draft of a chapter of a book that I wrote and haven’t planned out and don’t have a clear overarching vision for. There is no logic here. I have no useful reason to be upset about any of this.
Then again, when has being upset ever been a matter of utility? I just am, all right? The feelings are too strong right now and I don’t like it.
Plans are good. My plan is to Just Write and Fix It All In Revision, which is the same advice that I try to pass on to anyone else who asks, because it’s the method that I think actually works based on prior experience.
So maybe I should just do that, regardless of how I feel right now, and just trust that I’m on to something with it.
… but also work out a way to have fun with this draft because.
If I can’t have fun while I’m writing it, then straight-up I’m just going to stop fucking writing it. So something here has to change …
I’m taking notes.
I’ll go add to them … ah fuck today was make-up Werewolf day wasn’t it, hang on a minute …
Revision: 30 minutes
All right, it’s getting a bit interesting now.
I have 2 new chapters … well, “planned” is a strong word, especially for me, but the premises have been established, and they should make the story feel more like a story when they are implemented.
I’m still avoiding the issue of whether or not to try and maintain the “pulpy” feel of this story; but to be real “pulpy” is not and never has been the right word, it’s “trashy”. So far I’m not planning around that; I’m planning around “make it feel like a story”, and beyond that honestly I’m sort of just leaving it up to fate.
But I’m sort of looking forward to the actual revision part of this revision process now, whenever that might happen.
I guess today hasn’t been a total loss. My Bad Guys notes have served the purpose of restoring my faith in myself as an ubermensch super-genius storyteller, so that’s good; the Wolf Gang revision is, if delayed a little, ticking along nicely …
And now I don’t know what to do for the rest of the evening. I wonder what trash is on Netflix that I can start bingeing …
I thought today was going to be another slow one, difficult, stiff, uncooperative, and had kind of resigned myself to it. But I also decided to be pro-active and at least get some writing done. I thought, hey, if I can pump out a few hundred words tonight, at least that’s keeping momentum up, and that’s all that really matters.
I headed over to my Camp Nano cabin and announced that I was going to be doing a word-sprint, open to anyone who wanted to join. Someone else was online, so we did a 10-minute sprint, and I ended up with about 280 words. Not bad for ten minutes. Took a bit of a break, someone else wanted to join in for the next one; we went for 15 minutes, and I got over 600 words. I was quite pleased with myself. Had another break, yet another cabin-mate was keen, so we went for a final stretch of 15 minutes. I got past the 1k mark in total with that.
And I thought: hey, this sprinting thing (which is really intense if you’ve never done it, just fyi, learn by doing) is actually super useful, and I’m suddenly really glad that I have an active cabin and that I’ve taken the initiative to, like, reach out and make use of this support base. It’s actually awesome, and I didn’t think it would be, probably because of years of ingrained avoidant behaviour that I am now trying to unlearn with the help of a psychologist. In any event, I was pleased with myself, and feeling both chuffed and very grateful for my cabin, I was ready to call it a night.
But … I could always write a bit more … sure, the ideas aren’t quite as amazing as I’d like them to be, but I’ve got a lot of momentum here, I do have some ideas, and I’m actually having fun – also I do want to get my daily average up so that I can trick the Nano algorithm into thinking that I’ll actually finish 50k words on time …
And, voila! 2372 words tonight, momentum gained, an idea-wall pushed through and opened out into a new room full of new ideas that I wouldn’t have had if I hadn’t pushed myself, and had help from my fellow Campers doing it, hadn’t braved the waters of social interaction to follow through with my promises that I’ve made to myself …
Basically it’s been a good writing session tonight, I surprised myself, and Camp Nanowrimo and the people who do it are awesome.
And, shit, word sprints. You guys. You guys. They are amazing. I mean I don’t think they’re a one-size-fits-all panacea for writer’s block or anything – but then again maybe they are. I only really started using them tonight; I guess I did do a couple of sprints with my co-writing friend last Sunday, and that was also a very beneficial experience … yeah, maybe I’ve just discovered a stupidly effective way to break through writer’s block.
And it all comes back to writing buddies, and that’s no surprise. Also an obvious downside to the method: you need someone else for it to work. But, thankfully, I am in the fantastic position of having other people who I can write with as writing-buddies, so shit is getting did, yo.
I was actually more ambitious than even that today: I was going to do some more Wolf Gang revision, because I was feeling a bit down and thought it would give me a pick-me-up. But now I’m 1) very mentally drained and 2) picked-up way more than I had even hoped a hypothetical Wolf Gang revision-planning session would make me.
Tomorrow, though – well, tomorrow is my one fixed “day off” during Camp Nano, and while I will do a bit of writing anyway because that’s one of my writing goals for this month, the Wolf Gang revision might have to wait until next week. But, since I’m not really working on any other writing projects except for Bad Guys, I can devote pretty much any day – or every day – next week to a bit of Wolf Gang revision time, which I think could be a lot of fun. And quite exciting.
Guys. I have things going on in my life right now. Writing things. After the first half of this year, this feels good. Very good.
And I think I’ll leave it there for the night.
… okay one last thing the fact that I’ve found it really hard to come up with “good” ideas for Bad Guys while writing it thus far but found writing sprints really generative in terms of ideas proves a point for me: I was right when I set out to Just Write and Fix It All In Revision after all, because ideas come while you write as well. In fact often more than when you just kind of sit there trying to come up with ideas; ideas are grown, and to grow something you need somewhere to plant it, and something to feed it – like other ideas. Makes sense. I shall try to remember it.
But also, seriously, word sprints. Just Writing is all well and good, but just adding other people to the equation makes it actually … well, work. In a way that it really doesn’t, or hasn’t been for me so far, when I try it on my own. Wolf Gang, I think, was a special case, an exception, and that’s fine. This time, I need a bit of help, and I’m very grateful to have it.
Day of schmay off.
Where did that trope come from?
Anyway I did some writing. Now I can sleep at night, tonight, I probably won’t sleep my sleep patterns are horribly unhealthy, but whatever it’s done.
Also I got a haircut and rather like it. It’s the first haircut that I haven’t given myself, besides one that my mum gave me, in like two or three years. I was told that my hair was pretty healthy, which is quite validating considering that I haven’t used shampoo or conditioner for, also, about two or three years.
Writing blog. Totes.
I still haven’t my Monthly Words post for last month, have I?
I don’t think I’ll even bother at this point; I’ll do this month and last month in the same post after Camp Nano is over.
I’m thinking I’m almost certainly not going to hit 50k words by the end of the month – at least not from Bad Guys alone. Including whatever I write on the blog, it might add up to that, but that definitely doesn’t “count” for Camp Nano.
That’s fine, though. I have momentum now, and enthusiasm, too, which was equal parts unexpected and encouraging. My goal with Camp Nanowrimo is to finish having written enough of Bad Guys that I’ll feel encouraged to continue writing it after the month is up, and that I’ll have set a fast enough pace that I feel I can get to the revision process nice and quick. The one thing I want to ensure is that the pace is good, and to that end I do need to pick up said pace over the next couple of weeks – even if I don’t hit 50k by the end of the month, I want to have gotten a decent way into the story, too far to back out easily.
Which means that I also need a bit more of a plan than what I have. It’s pretty easy to write a whole bunch of words in a short span of time, much harder to have those words mean something. I could write 50k words of filler that doesn’t keep me invested in the slightest, and that’s what I want to avoid. So, this part of the story that I’m still working on – the beginning, the intro portion – I need to get past quickly. I want to be on to the next phase of the story by Friday, and hopefully the next phase after that by this time next week.
So, yes, some planning needs to be done. And that’s fine. Planning as I go does seem to be working fairly well, so I may as well continue with it.
Revision: 5 minutes
My co-writing friend and I 1) both got haircuts this week and 2) didn’t really feel like writing today for our weekly meet-up, so we discussed Stranger Things 3 instead. I also did the aforementioned five minutes of making revision notes on our co-writing project, and I feel like that was enough for this week.
Revision: 35 minutes
What a week it’s been.
Not quite as epic of a word-count as last week, but hey, this was also a big self-care week for me and kind of needed to be. If I keep up this sort of pace over the month I’ll hit around 30k with Camp Nano (4837 words this week were devoted to Bad Guys), and that’s a pretty decent chunk. I’d like to hit closer to 40k though, so, yes, pace definitely needs picking up.
But for this week: done; done, and on to the next one.