The Recap of Nothing

Yep, that’s right. I have done nothing more whatsoever with my book since last time I posted, which is nearly a month ago. What’s more, I haven’t even done anything else useful. Well, I’ve translated a bit, which brings in some (not much) money, so I guess that’s good. And I painted a bit (read: made a small sketch that is nowhere near finished) while visiting a friend the weekend before last. Aaaand that’s… it.

In other words: If you want to feel better about your own inefficiency, you’re welcome.

Still, last week was a very busy week. I went to the movies twice, went jogging with my brother and his girlfriend, went to both of my dance classes and spent most of my one day off either at the gym or reorganising my entire apartment. I think I had a few hours I could have used for writing on Tuesday, but I spent them on Youtube and on… something. Probably the aforementioned reorganising project. It wasn’t a good week for my new budget either. I used up all my “go to the movies/eat out” money on the day I got my salary (yay for being a responsible adult!), but did that stop me? Oh no. Not that I regret it.

Failure all around, in other words.

Well, that’s not quite the truth. I did get an idea for what I think will be an interesting scene between two of my main characters in the middle of Rogue Sorcery. Not much happens, but it explains a lot about the two characters, and in a way that’s far less of an infodump than before.

This upcoming weekend will not be as busy as the last. I won’t make any appointments or plans other than gym plans for the entire weekend, no matter what. Friday will be my “oh what a week it’s been” day, and I’ll eat good food and relax. I’ll start Saturday off by going to the gym, then I’ll spend most of it writing. Sunday will be much the same.

The plan is to finish both chapter 2 and 3 and send them over to Cicilie. I will also need to plot the middle part of the book again, since parts of the beginning has changed enough to influence pretty much the entire rest of the book. Good thing that the whole thing needs to be rewritten anyway 😛

Week 6 recap

It started so well.

On Sunday I got 3k in, and I really felt like I improved on what was there before, even if it’s perhaps the chapter with the least amount of changes. On Monday I wrote 400 words, and 1.2k on Tuesday.

And that was it. Last Wednesday I didn’t get home until half past seven or so. I could have written, I really could. On Mondays I don’t get home before eight anyway, and while 400 words isn’t much, it’s something. Thursdays are not writing days, nor are Fridays, but I tried to get enough translations done on Friday so that I could focus on writing for the rest of the weekend.

Well. That didn’t quite go as planned.

You see, Saturday I had an extra dance class, and with the commute and the stupid Saturday bus schedule plus grocery shopping, I was away for nearly six hours. But of course I wrote when I came back home, right? Nope. I had underestimated the time my translations would take, so that was the only thing I did until Sunday at four. Needless to say, I was too tired to write, at least if I wanted to function at work today. Sooo… the two writing days I had counted on last week went out the window.

As for this week, I am carefully hopeful. I won’t have time to write on Tuesday and Wednesday, due to appointments and translations. But I will keep my calendar as empty as possible next weekend so that I can write. Being optimistic never hurts, right?

Writing goals for 2017 (revised)

OK, so I caved. I couldn’t resist making actual wordcount-related writing goals. I mean, yeah, I still think my initial goals are good. It’s just that they’re not so… trackable. I don’t like to mix time goals and wordcount goals in the same spreadsheet, and having two spreadsheets doesn’t work. However, I will try to stick to my initial rule about writing days, to try to get into some sort of habit, and the basic idea is pretty much the same.

The new goals are divided by content. Since my blogging motivation is unstable at best, I decided to include blogging as an actual writing goal. My blog posts seem to average around 500 words, and I figure once a week is a minimum for each of my three blogs plus one extra post per week. Then I have my novel projects, and my short stories, which are basically stories written for the web, or just for fun.

  • Blogging: At least 2000 words (4×500) per week
  • Novel writing/editing: At least 6500 words per week (if I stick to my four writing days per week this will be 1625 words per day, i.e. less than NaNoWriMo).
  • Short stories and snippets: At least 1500 words per week.
  • Total writing, everything put together: 10 000 words per week.

This means:

  • Total writing on each writing day (Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday): 2000 words (1625+375) of fiction.
  • If blogging is included in the above, total wordcount goal for each writing day is 2500 words.
  • Any extra words or writing time is a bonus, not a must.
  • The NaNoWriMo goal is not included.
  • So during the rest of 2017, including this week (47 weeks in total), I’ll have the following figures:
    • 94,000 words’ worth of blog post (roughly 63 new blog posts per blog per week, if counting 500 words per post)
    • 70,500 words’ worth of short stories and snippets (though the figures also include editing, so perhaps half that in reality)
    • 305,500 words’ worth of novels, again including editing/new drafts, excluding NaNoWriMo
    • 355,500 words’ worth of novels including NaNoWriMo

I’m excited to see how well (or badly) this will work, particularly since I haven’t set aside time for worldbuilding and planning. I’m two days into week one, but yesterday wasn’t a writing day. I still wrote 400 words, and cleaned up at home. Did the dishes and everything! I almost feel like an adult.

I also received an orchid yesterday. If anyone wonders, I don’t have green fingers. I’m very curious how long it will last – but I did take very good care of the little note that states how to care for it. I might actually have to start letting some sunlight in instead of having the curtains drawn every hour of the day though…

Anyway. I am now done editing the first chapter of Rogue Sorcery, and things are going well. Slowly, but well. 3349 words in two days, after months of nothing at all. Here’s to keeping up the momentum!

Week 4 recap

Technically I guess it’s week 1, since I only wrote my resolutions last week, but I decided to go with the calendar, so week 4 it is. I’m not sure I’ll do recaps every week, and I’ll probably try to do them on Sundays or Mondays, but we will see.

The week started miserably, at least when it comes to actual output. The wheels were turning in my head though, trying to work out the best plot, but words? Nah.

Last Friday I visited Cicilie for what was supposed to be a write-in. Instead we spent the time eating good food, cuddling with her dog and discussing our stories. Each day I feel I am one step closer to a workable plot, but I keep doubting.

Technically I guess I did work quite a bit on my book if you count the back-and-forth plotting and plot discussions. I met a writer friend on Tuesday for a trip to IKEA, and went on a social visit to another writer friend on Saturday (turns out I have a few of those!), and both days I felt slightly closer to untangling the great plot knot. There are details to work out, but still.

Then… on Sunday I actually did something. But it wasn’t writing. I keep getting frustrated with all my timelines (particularly all the versions), and since I have to make a new timeline for Rogue Sorcery in my shiny new Aeon Timeline 2, I decided to just put in everything I’ve planned for that setting into the same timeline. It has quite good filtering options, so it doesn’t really matter if it’s full of things.

But of course it took more time than I had expected. Whenever does it not? I would perhaps have been more efficient if I hadn’t watched Doctor Who in the background, but I had a lot to catch up with. I ended up watching an entire season in less than 48 hours. I also somehow managed to finish the timeline up to the point where Rogue Sorcery begins.

It might seem like a waste of time, to plot so much that isn’t technically book plot. But it’s still relevant. The plot of RS is tied into the situation in the empire, and then you will need to know what the situation is like. Which general has been there the longest, which areas are the newest, just how much drama went down behind the scenes before the story starts?

Turns out quite a lot. There’s a lot of story material there, I think. I still really want to write about the emperor’s childhood and upbringing, but it would be a dark, dark story. Magic, murder and mayhem – kind of catchy, actually.

Anyway, I’m hoping to get some actual writing done the next few days. Cicilie and I planned to exchange drafts in what is less than a week away, and currently I’ve got nothing. Except one chapter that she’s read before. I had initially written four more chapters, but things have now changed so much that they’re out the window. Oooops?

Writerly resolutions

January is the time of the month where plans are made, and you enter the new year full of determination and drive. Well, unless you start the year with mental and work-related chaos and can’t see the point in planning anything. However, while it might be refreshing to work without a deadline, I absolutely suck at it. I need deadlines. But if there’s one thing my stress levels don’t need, it’s more deadlines. On the other hand… I’m getting increasingly sick of being just as far away from my dream as I was last year, or the year before. Aaand it turns out that not having a project to work on, a goal to aim for, is really bad for my mental health. How on earth do you combine all these things?

The answer might be obvious to most other people, but for overachiever and burnout-prone me it’s definitely not. Realistic goals, what’s that? Cutting out something to make time for this new thing I want to do, is that possible? Wow.

Frankly, what do I find more rewarding? Writing, or spending my precious spare time watching mind-numbing stuff on Youtube? I’m sure I can live without watching the latest Buzzfeed video on people testing something that’s not even remotely relevant to me. Maybe.

I could start by having a deadline for the next revision of Rogue Sorcery, or for the plot revisions and the timeline file for the updated plot, but I’m not sure. There’s been so many deadlines for the past year, and while it works well for NaNoWriMo, it hasn’t worked at all for the remainder of the year.

I think I’ve realised why. While the end goal is 50k (or more, in my case) for NaNoWriMo, it’s not what I focus on. What I focus on is my daily goal. Your 1667 words per day, or 3334, or 5000. That’s what I look at in the NaNoWriMo stats, in my spreadsheets. It’s making that particular day green in my wordcount file, not red. Because I know that if I reach or even surpass this target most days, I will reach 50k, or 100k, or 150k. There’s no need to worry about it. Finishing a draft is a completely different beast.

So I’ve decided to make a new type of goal. It might be what everyone has been doing for ages, but it’s new to me. It’s inspired by what you often hear in fitness and/or weight loss circles: Focus on the process, not the goal. Sometimes things happen despite the best of intentions, and you can’t control the outcome nearly as much as you’d like. But you can control what you do on a regular basis to influence the outcome.

I have made the following little set of rules, or perhaps “steps” is a better word. My main idea is to turn one into a habit before I start on the next one, until I get used to making time for writing:

  1. Write something every Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. I don’t care if it’s just a sentence, a 5-minute sprint, something you’ll never look at again, write something on any kind of story.
  2. Spend a minimum of 15 minutes writing (actual writing, not plotting or planning) every Tuesday and Wednesday, an hour every Saturday and Sunday. Some of this hour can be used for plotting and/or planning, but minimum 30 minutes are reserved for actual writing. This equals two and a half hours every week, which is the main goal.
  3. Write at least 10k every week. This should be doable within the allotted time periods with my max writing speed, but most days it might require more time.
  4. Resist the urge to increase the word count goal (even if it’s fine to actually write more – it just shouldn’t be a must).

I admit it’s tempting to plan on writing every single day of the week, but frankly, with my timetable, mental health and other projects, it’s just not feasible. For example, on Thursdays I usually don’t even have time to make dinner before I have to go to bed. Insisting on writing on those days anyway would be asking for a disaster.

So there it is. My new 4-step program to actually getting the book (and my other projects) written. Do you have a plan for your writing this year?

NaNo Prep, a.k.a. WHAT?!? Only five days until November?

As you can probably tell from the title, I am not prepared. I am not even less prepared than I usually am and less than I planned (which is par for the course, really), I’m spectacularly unprepared. I don’t have a story that I can rewrite that’s not either already rewritten and being edited, waiting for the previous novel in the series to be edited, or postponed indefinitely. Well, unless you count Underhanded Deals, but I haven’t been able to sort out the huge, enormous problem that is the plot. It’s the kind of story where you need to know where it’s going, or you’ll end up with a huge mess, which I have already tried. Twice.

Ignoring the option of rewriting something for now (not editing, by the way), I usually have at least a few new ideas that I would like to try out, except that this year I don’t. I have what I think of as the Kitchen Sink story, where I throw in pretty much everything I think is cool, but I haven’t got a plot yet. Not sure I can get one in so few days, when I only have a very vague idea of the setting and barely any characters. I do have some other ideas, but I tend to get stuck after just a few thousand words, so I need to work on them some more before I attempt to write them.

So that’s basically it. One story I need to work on before I can write it without getting stuck, and one idea I really need to flesh out before I start writing. In other words: I’ve got some work to do in these five days. Or three, since I’m busy all day today and tomorrow. And half of Saturday. And most of Monday. Let’s try again: I have a LOT of work to do on Sunday. I guess tidying and cleaning my apartment before NaNoWriMo just went out the window. The annoying thing is of course that I will probably have to plot both, just in case. I am aiming for 100k this year, maaaaybe 150k if I reach 100k very early, so I might very well need to write more than one story. This year I won’t have time to plot as I go either.

The reason I’m not pantsing this year is because I have so little time. Not only do I have a new job with slightly longer work hours, but it’s also a full time job, so I’ve lost an entire writing day all of a sudden. I don’t have my usual November vacation. I can’t skip dance classes as I’m one of the instructors now. I work out a lot more. In other words, if I am to write lots of words, I need to be able to make the most out of what little writing time I do have. That means spending as little time as possible thinking about what needs to happen, and knowing what comes next every time I sit down to write.

I guess I technically could have lowered my goal, but where’s the fun in that? At least I have the sense not to try to beat my personal best from last year, which was 211k. At least not yet…

Hopefully I can figure out a plot for my Kitchen Sink novel. If any story’s fun to write, I think that would be it. It has vampires, werewolves, sinister and not-so-sinister sorcerers, creepy old mansions, a bit of romance, a bit of everything, really. Hence the name. Basically, the only thing it doesn’t have is a plot. But I think I’m going to find one of my trusty writing books (I’ve read a few lately) and simply pick a method and follow it to create the plot. Or find my own method. Who knows, it might be fun!

Are you prepared for NaNoWriMo, or are you flailing like a headless chicken like I am?

 

Not being able to write sucks

Since my last post, I’ve made three unpublished blog post drafts. One about daily life. One about plot revisions. One about a new, creative hobby of mine. And they’re all sitting there with only a few paragraphs and nothing more. Let’s just say that it’s quite characteristic for all my writing nowadays. In other words, I haven’t written a thing. And it sucks.

Lesson learnt: If you do too much and keep that up for too long, getting back on your feet is going to be hard. It’s going to take time. A LOT of time. And things you like are going to suffer for it. If you’re in a situation where you think that you should probably slow down or do a little less soon, do it now. The longer you wait, the harder it gets.

It’s not even writer’s block. Everything’s there in my head, I’m motivated, I have everything planned out and don’t feel pressured by anything else than my own deadline, but I just can’t sit down with anything nowadays, particularly not on the computer. It’s like I can’t turn off that “oh God, I’m behind in my translations” feeling that I’ve had for half a year. For those 6 months, translating was all I ever did besides work and dance class. I’m having a hard time convincing my brain that sitting in front of a computer doesn’t necessarily mean that I have work I should do. I’m not procrastinating. I’m having the evening off, damn it! And yes, writing’s work, but it’s definitely not the same.

But apparently opening any kind of writing program or notebook triggers my brain’s “I’m so overworked, I can’t do this anymore” response. It does make sense. My brain doesn’t know that the super-intense translation marathon I had for half a year is over. It doesn’t know that everything involving computers isn’t work, or something urgent and tiresome.

Today I’ll run a little experiment. When I get home tonight there’ll be no computer, no TV, nothing. If I need sensory input I’ll read – I’m currently re-reading Harry Potter, just because reading a book I like and have read several times before seemed to be just the thing right now. I might try to draw again, or perhaps plot a little more on paper. And then there’s loads of tidying up to do. Hopefully that will do the trick.

The takeaway: Too much of a good thing is still too damn much.

There! I’m done with my complaining for now! Writing-related news:

  • I’ve realised that far from all stories on my “to write” list will ever be written, nor should they. That list is now half of what it was. The remaining stories will be background fodder or ideas that might evolve into something else, but there’s no need to insist on writing a story that you don’t feel enthusiastic or confident about.
  • I got a new idea for a story this morning. I think some of it came from a dream of mine, but I’ve had similar ideas for a while now. It wasn’t until now that all the pieces finally came somewhat together. I only have the starting point, so I have no idea what the actual plot will be, but I think it will be fun to write. Won’t say anything more yet!

 

Life choices, editing schedule and this blog

It’s Sunday and I’m trying to muster the initiative to get up and make some dinner. So far it’s not going particularly well, so I thought I’d procrastinate by writing a blog post instead. Because my head works so well when I’m hungry…

Life choices

Two days ago I finished my last translation gig on Fiverr. After doing far too much for far too long and ending up in a place where it’s not healthy to be, mentally, I paused my gig and decided that enough was enough. For one thing, it’s hard to be a writer without any time for writing. My life for the past 6 months have been the following: Get up. Get early to work. Translate a bit before work starts. Work. Go home, eat quick dinner (maaybe exercise first). Translate until brain stops working/you see double/you’re falling asleep at the keyboard. Fall asleep, repeat the next day.

I love languages, and I used to love translation, and it’s been a lifesaver, but when you sit down to work and feel physically ill just from opening the document… it’s not good. So now it’s DONE. I have time to write. I have time to do nothing without feeling bad about it. I can go to bed when I feel tired without pushing myself to just do another page first. I can go work out without feeling bad about the time I spend doing it. Do I need to go on? That first day, I rejected four jobs. Normally I’d feel bad after the first one, and do the remaining three. But now? Nope, I was polite but firm. Victoryyy!!! (aaaand that’s the cue for the song from Lord of the Dance to become stuck in my brain. Again.)

Editing schedule

It should not be a surprise to anyone that with a life like what I described above, I certainly did not make the editing deadline that Cicilie and I had set. By a long shot. Luckily (for me), she didn’t either, and so we postponed it. Again.

This time will be the last, however. I have made a plan over how much I need to write for the next month, and I am only a little bit behind. I have some days off now, so I’m actually confident that I’ll be able to catch up very soon. My ambitious goal is 15k today, which is doable for me, but I want at least 10k.

Our new deadline is October 1st. That’s the goal we are working towards, and which I’ve written in my new plan. We also have another deadline, October 16th, which is the absolute deadline. No matter what the draft is like and how much we have edited, it is to be handed over at that point, sort of like we did back in December. That will allow us some planning time before NaNoWriMo as well.

The actual schedule I’ve made for myself has me finishing the draft on September 24th, except if it turns out to be very much longer than anticipated. Then I will have one week, perhaps plus two more, to fix the new sections I’ve had to write. Time will tell if this is actually realistic this time.

This blog

…will not change all that much yet, though I’ve looked at new themes. However, I have a dancing/training blog that I hardly ever use, and I’ve also felt like three blogs is a bit much. I do write about dancing and health and exercise and whatever else is going on in my life here anyway, so it’s not like the change will be all that great. Any thoughts? Would you hate to see that kind of content here?

It should be said that if I do it, I’ll figure out a way to let you choose to see only blog posts from a certain category/topic. Besides, I feel like I cannot devote enough time and attention to maintain all my blogs properly, and perhaps it will be best to have one main blog in English where I do all my stuff. Seeing that it now has both writing and painting and drawing and language and photography (soon) and all that stuff anyway.

I really do wonder if I will ever be able to write more than one or two entries in a row without discussing something or other I want to change with one of my blogs…

Let’s do it all!

As most writers do, I have several projects on my to-do list. I am not sure “several” really captures it, but among my Asana projects I have six novel projects plus two short story collections (for Wattpad, probably), as well as one that I’ve forgotten to make a project for. I have two weeks to edit Rogue Sorcery before The Grand Manuscript Exchange with Cicilie (otherwise known as “oh, by the way, here’s the USB stick”). And I have allowed the worst thing possible to happen.

I have another story idea. It isn’t a “proper” idea, it doesn’t tie into any other project I have or anything like that. Quite on the contrary, the idea was conceived when reading snarky recaps of 50 Shades of Grey as well as the subsequent discussion. I realised that I had a rather intense urge to write something fun and somewhat cliché and silly.

Perhaps I just need to get it out of my system, but there are also so many things I have wanted to write for ages but have never been able to fit into a story. (Fun fact time! Did you know Rogue Sorcery initially had pirates in it? Yep, I still hold a grudge towards myself for that cut.)

What I know

The plan is that the story will be one of my NaNoWriMo novels this November. I also really want to share it as soon as possible, and will either upload it to Wattpad or simply here on the blog as the chapters are finished.

So far, the novel will have steamy romance, hot but creepy demons/creatures who look human but aren’t, sinister businessmen/weapon dealers, a sassy main character, an even more sassy sidekick, a brooding or snarky assassin, adventure, pirates, airships, technowizards (for lack of a better word – wizards who combine magic and technology in a way) and sorcerers, a mysterious library (have I ever written a story without a library in it?), dark and occult secrets, and plenty more.

In other words: Overkill.

If this was a serious project, I would probably have cut at least 2/3 of these things. But this is purely a “get it out of your system” novel that I think will be great fun to write. That’s really the entire point to this. That, and perhaps someone will like a novel that is crammed full of everything I like. Well, almost. It doesn’t have dragons, or elves. Yet.

There miiight be some problems combining all of these elements, since some needs a modern setting and some are clearly more epic fantasy. Perhaps a multi-world adventure of sorts? Actually… I already have a setting that fits, for the Hub World stories that are never finished.

I will probably post a few updates on the planning progress here, if people are interested. Hopefully it won’t fully distract me from editing… One can only hope.

What’s that? My plan? No idea what you’re talking about…

Well.

Apparently there was a plan. And a schedule. And a slightly overly optimistic writer who decided that YES, august would be the perfect time to finish the third draft of Rogue Sorcery. Nevermind that I have an insanely large translation job that I am already late with, plus two smaller ones. Or the fact that, after a long day at work and 4-5 hours (minimum) of non-stop translation, my brain is just a mushy ball of exhaustion. OK, sometimes I take the time to work out right after work, but without it, this kind of schedule just wouldn’t be possible. And did I mention that I’m beta reading not one, but two manuscripts?

Definitely not complaining about the last part, though. I like being able to help out, and both writers asked very nicely and had very interesting stories.

I had planned to use this weekend to (hopefully) catching up with where I’m supposed to be, word count-wise. It didn’t happen. In fact, I haven’t written a single word all weekend. Friday I had work and translations, so no dice there. Saturday… I woke up at 6 a.m., strangely awake, but being that my apartment was a disaster area, I tried my best to fix that instead. I don’t regret it, because now I can actually look up from the computer screen without hyperventilating. Let me just tell you right now that being a naturally messy person while becoming really stressed if everything isn’t tidy around you isn’t a good combination. I don’t even like spotless homes.

The rest of Saturday was spent organizing some photos (another project of mine in which I’m behind schedule), reading blogs and playing Internet games, and going to bed early. Today I did more of the same, and I went for a step class at my gym. Guess who forgot to eat before going? Yep, I did. And breakfast was three hours before I left home. The choreography wasn’t hard, and I’m usually good at choreo, but I just couldn’t follow it at all. It was far easier last week.

Aaaanyway.

Guess how far I’m behind? 28k. And that’s my small goal, if the story ends up at 100k, which it won’t. The optimistic goal of 120k is more likely, and in that case… 35k behind. Hooray. It also turns out that I’ll have no time to write next weekend, since I’m going away with my new job. I haven’t even started yet, but it will be very useful when I do start. I can get some writing done on the airport, though. Didn’t think of that…

Still, in order for this post not to become a total downer, I have vacation towards the end of the month, directly before starting my new job. I’ll try not to take on more translation work, so I can get a lot written then. I do think I’ll have to talk to my writer friend/beta reader about the draft though, because our plan to exchange manuscripts by the end of the month might be a bit optimistic. Just a tiny bit. I am able to write 100k in two weeks, but not while doing other stuff. I think. I did do 250k last November, with a work conference and stuff during the month, so maaaybe it’s still possible… At least she’ll need to get a draft where the end is actually written out instead of just being a summary (I ran out of time last time, too).

 

Somehow I feel I’m too disorganised and scatter-brained to ever have any hope of becoming a full-time writer. I certainly have some work to do in the “being organised” department…