Determination, or How I Try To Get Out of a Funk

I have today, for the first time all April, hit my daily word count target. Huzzah!

Unfortunately, that still leaves me around 20k words behind my cumulative target. Looks like tonight will be more about writing than reading.

I don’t know if it’s still possible to even hit the 50k target I somewhat arrogantly set myself, but acknowledging that I may need to reinterpret my story plan did help along the way. Rediscovering my entirely incidental worldbuilding database (it’s so pretty…) also motivated me to get *something* written down. All I need to do now is word vomit all over the scenes I’ve identified as needing to be written.

Piece of cake, right?

Update – PreCamp

I’ve let the standard slip again, I’m afraid, as I get well into the reading I’m doing. I’ve had a good run of new ideas in the last week, though, so that’s encouraging.

The bulk of my non-work time has been devoted to reading, and I’ve devoured some new things. Spending an evening on Mythcreants, as the slightest incursion to their archives will do, did damage my writing somewhat. Discovering new series is always fun, and I’m happy to report I seem to be out of my romance phase for the moment. No objection to those re-reads, but this has a fair bit more depth.

Speaking of my sci-fi (entirely Space Opera) bender, I should go back and whack my brother for kicking this off in the first place. If he hadn’t recommended one book to me, and my addictive personality hadn’t latched onto it, I would never be in this position…

It changes up my writing nicely though, and what writing I *have* managed to do has been different from the previous. It feels warmer, less formal, though I’m not really sure why that would be as it’s all *my* writing.

I’ve done nowhere near the prep for Camp NaNo as I did for the main event, though I have been writing more anyway. I imagine restricting myself to a single storyline for a month will be even more challenging than hitting my target word count.

I suppose I ought to spend some time boning up on it, but I have to be honest and say that may take a backseat to all the things I want to get done this weekend.

Knowing When To Stop

I have very nearly made up the ridiculous shortfall of the last week by writing 5k today. The thing I’m struggling with is whether to charge on, or stop here, recharge my batteries and attack the particularly juicy scene I’m writing tomorrow when I’m fresh.

Let it not be said that I’m not proud of my achievement – that kind of word count is something I haven’t managed since the heady early days of NaNoWriMo, when I was consciously dedicating large blocks of time to knocking out a novel.

This is a different beast, as I am focused on getting into the habit of writing a significant amount every day; that’s why I think I ought to stop. There’s no prize if I tear through a scene tonight only to run out of energy for it tomorrow.

There, I’ve decided – less is more, when I’m on a roll.

I will write again tomorrow!

Shiny New Distractions

I made a massive booboo this week – I broke my laptop. Just the screen, so if I could be bothered I could probably fix it, but I reckon it’s past the point of being worth it. Bring on the new laptop!

New toy excitement aside, it massively derailed my 2k per day plans – I managed to hit that word count from Monday to Saturday last week, then my rugby (Scotland in the 6nations) love resulted in a defunct device.

I don’t anticipate hitting my word target today either, but as my laptop arrives tomorrow I’m hoping to make it then. After that, it’s getting back on the horse and slogging away until spewing words out is a force of habit.

At that point, I will be that much closer to:

  1. a complete draft of another novel (most of what I’ve written has been for the same story)
  2. being able to keep writing even when I don’t feel like it
  3. figuring out how to manage writing while working

Back to the shiny: I have an opportunity here to alter my routine, to maintain my writing every single day in such a way as to reach my dreams. In April I’ll be undertaking Camp NaNoWriMo with a different story (I doubt I’ll *ever* run out of stories to be writing), so that may require some redirection.

The other thing of note is the pronounced tendency I have to write based on the style I’ve most recently read. The space fleet opera I’ve been bingeing on lately has clearly influenced both my most recent ideas (fully expected) and the writing I’ve been doing (less expected but welcome as its influence has largely pertained to tactics so far).

The Writing Train Has Finally Left The Station

Writing – finally, we have progress again!

Apparently, all I needed was a mental recharge and a visit from my sister to trigger a scene between sisters. 5k later, I’ve managed to write a daily amount which would see me comfortably through NaNoWriMo, which is plenty for a daily average and a good idea to maintain just for practising.

That or it was the genre swap (I’ve been reading Sci-Fi for a week instead of fluff) or the ridiculous amount of alcohol consumed over the weekend.

To be perfectly honest, I don’t care what it was; I feel like I have my mojo back!

It’s also nice to be able to write something I intended on doing… even if there is one (perfectly logical) diversion. It doesn’t even make later scenes change. It’s also allowed me to acknowledge a greater depth in one character. Good stuff, so far. Now to redirect this on time in April for Camp NaNo…

Back to the sci-fi binge – I need to stop being obsessive about things I find interesting. I breeze through everything available rather than pacing myself – though spending a week reading six books is pacing myself – then get a prolonged story hangover when I’m done. I’m just lucky in this case that there’s already a spinoff to get into, though I’m not convinced it’ll have the same impact.

It may freshen up my ‘you might like’ list though – moving it away from fluff.

It’s also, unfortunately, the time when the TV programmes I was watching before Christmas have started airing again. That means less reading time 😦

Whoops

I’ve somehow fallen into the position of being tired all the time and extremely busy when I do have the energy to deal with things. I haven’t properly written anything since Christmas, and I feel terrible about that. I seem to be emerging from the other side of a minor episode of SAD, so now is the time to take my life back in my own hands.

All my typical excuses (bar the fatigue, that probably won’t go until I’m drinking again) are now exhausted, so I need to get off my backside, sit down at my laptop, and get to typing. Irony fully intended.

The loose plan for what to write is one of my fantasy projects – not the NaNoWriMo one and not the one earmarked for Camp NaNoWriMo – then in February (of course) knock out some steamy romance, which is always a good fallback when I’m in a low mood.

The Soul Is Willing…

…but the flesh is weak. Addled by caffeine and too much alcohol, the odd burn from cooking and a dependency on sugar. I do go swimming though. Honest.

I haven’t done much writing at all since hitting the 50k mark for NaNoWriMo – on the 18th of November. I rested on my laurels, which was a silly thing to do, and now I’m paying the price. I had thought that the seat-of-the-pants nature of my project for NaNo was the reason I stuttered and stopped a couple of times. In an attempt to prevent this happening in subsequent efforts, I plotted out the novel.

Then I plotted out a few more. Not next-in-the-series, just other stories I haven’t written yet. What I learnt? I have yet to find the method for planning novels which actually suits me. I also have a hard time with the terminology.

‘Conflict’ is one that crops up rather frequently – in my head it still means a war or at least a fight of some magnitude. That novel-plotters mean something more like ‘at cross-purposes’ doesn’t escape me, but it feels rather contrived to insert opposition when in your head there wasn’t any.

I suspect I’m getting the wrong end of the stick, and that I’m also a little too romance-and-fluff-focused. I personally don’t mind, but I have a feeling the point is to get some tension into the story. It’s only a story if something happens which didn’t before, and it’s only interesting if things keep happening. I love a good action scene, though other people’s can bore me (I get that it’s hypocritical, but it’s also reading as a writer, so thbpbpbpbpbpt), but I genuinely don’t like too much in the way of opposition to something.

Perhaps that’s naive and perhaps I should stop thinking that way, but I reserve the right to keep reading things with a happy ending whenever I want.

Another facet of novel-planning which seems designed to scupper me is talking about characters’ motivations. Are they supposed to have deep, driving causes? Can’t someone genuinely be along for the ride, living in the moment? Do we really care about the childhood tragedy which orphaned the hero and sent him on an otherwise predestined path?

I hate that kind of thing. Plenty of people have had perfectly nice childhoods and gone on to do both wonderful and terrible things. Then again, the books I read tend not to be centred on normal families. Why not, I ask you? I would attempt to talk about ‘low fantasy’ (as opposed to high fantasy), but that’s already a thing and it isn’t about the average Joanne. There seems to be a real dearth of main characters forming meaningful relationships with people (especially parents) in my preferred genres. It’s sad.

Despite the little rant above, I actually do like reading fantasy – you get a really experimental take on systems of government, the limits of humanity, and the effects of powerful people throughout history. What I wish I saw more is how all that really cool high-level stuff affects the villager in their cottage, or the bartender at the inn.

I’ve seen it written more than once that if you really want to read a particular story, you should write it. That is what I will do. Starting with the situation closest to my own – young family.

If it turns autobiographical, poke me.

Back to the Schedule

Discipline. That’s clearly going to be the key for December. After my embarrassing lack of discipline in November – spending basically all my money with two weeks to go ’til payday – I’m in need of a bit of cutting back.

Somewhat ironically, I am going to be doing lots of baking and gift-buying – but there’s no need to go overboard. I don’t have a ridiculously large gift list, and most people will be happier with something personal than something kerspensive. Should be a doddle – once I’ve worked out what I’m getting who, anyway.

Then there’s the discipline of sitting down and writing every day. I woke up with my alarm this morning, at five to six. What I ought to have done was get up and do an hour’s writing. What I actually did was have a half-hour lie-in, read for twenty minutes and then got up at almost seven.  Given the house is now clean and tidy, I don’t really have an excuse for not plonking myself in the dining room or on the sofa, and booting up the laptop.

The final thing is discipline with alcohol. I’m well aware that temptation will be lurking around every corner, so I’m going to do my best not to indulge more than the minimum. The easiest way to do this will be not to go out or to remain the designated driver; an easy feat given I’m hardly a social butterfly and we haven’t actually arranged an employee Christmas do.

In summary, discipline for December. There’s always scope for improvement, as well as room for slippage. I don’t expect to be perfect, but building some discipline into my days should help in many areas.

2016 Predictions

This year has been rife with changes for me; not least that I have stuck at doing several new things and actually succeeded at them.

For next year, there are a number of things I would like to predict will happen, in my life and in others’.

The first prediction is that I will get my son into swimming lessons (at last). He loves the water, always has, and is a wee terror if he doesn’t get the energy release from swimming of a weekend. It makes things interesting when we occasionally have family to visit, as he gets Very Excited when people are in the house (besides his parents, of course; we may as well be furniture).

The second prediction is that we will *not* go on our first family holiday. We’re kind of sort of trying to arrange one, but when my other half goes ‘I should just do this’ historically it hasn’t taken place.

The third prediction is that I will not publish a novel next year. It’s always something to aim for, but realistically I’m not there yet. NaNoWriMo this year helped, but I have a long way to go to 1,000,000 words. Especially with my sparse writing style.

The fourth prediction is that my job will give me at least as much stress as this year, if not considerably more. The promise of a payrise can’t compare to the hassle it’s going to bring as I am pushed into talking to *shudder* people. It’s mostly customers who garner that reaction in me; suppliers are easier to talk to for some reason.

The fifth prediction is that another change will come about in writing and publishing. I don’t know what it is, but the market is ripe for a change to loosen Amazon’s grip on the ebook market, and I fully expect to see it next year. Not that I have anything against Amazon; I just generally like to see people competing for my custom.

What are your predictions? Do you foresee a revolution in the way people read? A family Incident? The overturning of laws like VAT on ebooks? Let me know…

We’ll come back to this at the end of 2016 to see how realistic these predictions were, and hopefully it’ll turn out that some of them were true and others false (especially the stressy work one).