So Many Days

Honestly, it’s been almost a year since I last popped on here and said something. But it hasn’t been for a lack of general productivity or anything. In fact, when I stopped posting was about the exact time that I started really ramping up my production and got stuff done. Seriously. I’m not even lying.

Through August last year, I was starting to get all my ducks in a row and I had finally come up with a plan. I was going to use August-October to plan out my story and get everything ready to go in anticipation of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I’ve done NaNoWriMo several times, but for the most part, my preparation was pulling out all the various notes that I had ever made about the story and putting them in a pile that I wouldn’t reference. This time it was going to be different, because this time, I was going to use it as a jump start to get my story going. And so those three months were crazy.

I was dog sitting at my auntie’s house near the end of September when I finished planning out the final book in the trilogy. It was something like 10am because I had woken up stupid early that morning to go get the SNES classic, and then decided to stay awake and be productive. I remember wanting to cry, I was so happy to have finally got there. It was pretty special. But I didn’t get to stop there. Nope. Now that I had everything planned out on paper, well, in a thick notebook, it was time to get it typed up and organized on the computer.

I had spent some time typing characters and places up as I went, but this was the point when I really buckled down to make sure that I didn’t miss a thing. It was almost the end of October by the time I got everything sorted, and then I did something that has been incredibly valuable for my sanity and my writing productivity. I loaded my characters and places to the Staples printing site to get them put into a coiled book. And then when I saw how awesome that was, I did the same with my plot. One is 92 pages, and the other is 74, and I bring them around with me almost everywhere as a quick reference. Sure, I could pull the files up on my computer, but I really like having something tangible that I can grasp, and highlight, and mark up. It’s something I love, and I know it’s something that I will continue to do and use after I finish these books and as I move on to other stories.

Then November hit, and it was time to start running. And I did. Amazingly. Shockingly. The goal for the month was 50k. That’s the official number for NaNoWriMo. I knew I would hit that. I’ve done NaNoWriMo enough times to know that I can hit that in eight days. I don’t recommend only leaving yourself eight days to write 50k, but I now know it can be done. No, I wanted to go big, or go home. So I set my minimum goal to 50k, but my actual goal to 75k. I made 80k with a few days to spare, but traveling and all that meant that I missed out on a few writing days. It was okay, though, I was happy with the 80k.

What followed were a few months of doing nothing. After pushing myself for three months prior to NaNoWriMo, and then outputting so much in November, I was a little burnt out. Throw some year end holidays in there, and a trip abroad, and, well, you can imagine that I wasn’t super productive. But then in February, I started to get the itch again, and I decided to start setting up for a productive March. I set my goal for that month at 60k, and managed to put out just over 76,000 words in the end. April was Camp NaNoWriMo, and I set my goal for a modest 25k, something I had set before I even started writing in March. I decided not to change it, because I was afraid that I wouldn’t write much more than that. Privately, though, I had my eyes set on 60k. I didn’t reach it. But, I did surpass 40,000 words and that’s nothing to scoff about. This month was supposed to be another 50k, I think, but then things started to unravel a bit.

See, I’m still technically working on book one of my trilogy, but I’m over 200,000 words in. That makes me wonder if maybe I’m trying to put too much into one book. The whole reason that I split the books where I did was because I was so set on having three books. Now, the more I look at it, the more I think it’s actually four. And so I stopped writing for a while, and I did a bunch of thinking. While I was thinking, and trying to figure out the best place to cut the first book into two, I came across a note. This note told me where I had planned on cutting the first book off in the first place. It was the same place that I was looking at to make the division. I guess it was meant to me.

So, now my trilogy has become a four part series (at least), and that means I have a decision to make, and that’s what’s been holding back my word count lately, and also making me immensely unproductive. I don’t know if I want to continue on with the story as it is and then take care of the split later, or if I want to stop my forward momentum and get back to the actual first book and start cleaning that up. The Queen of Quantity tells me that I should just keep going and write all the words. But, I also know that I do have areas that I have to fix, because I basically just skipped them, and that will give me a chance to add a ton of words to the mix.

As it turns out, in an effort to not choose, I’ve just been kicking back and forth between the two options and not really doing much on either, choosing instead to binge watch Netflix shows. In good news, I think I’m running out of things I want to watch and also the rest of the internet has become pretty boring to me. At least for now. I think I need to jump on this and use it to be productive. At the moment, I’ve decided that I’m just going to keep writing. Tomorrow, it might be a different story. The only good thing is that I know I have the option to switch paths at any point.

This summer, I’ve taken up a remote job. Should be interesting. I’ll either get a ton written, or nothing at all. Time will tell, but I’ll get more into that later. Actually, the job is kind of the reason that I’ve decided to get back into this blog, other than the fact that I kind of missed blogging. See, I usually daily vlog, but out in this remote place, internet is scarce, so I can’t exactly be uploading a gig or two of data every day. Gotta adjust to the environment, so look forward to more of this.

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Mondays, Eh?

When I worked, Mondays were a thing to dread. Not because I always had Sundays off, but because my Mondays were generally extremely early in the morning. Often I would have to be up and moving less than eight hours after I got off work the night before. Brutal. But now that I’m retired, Mondays have become just another day to be productive. I can wake up early, I can sleep in for hours, and it doesn’t matter. Because Mondays are my days. All the days are my days. And it feels so good.

On that note, today was an extremely productive day. I left the house at around 11:30am to go to a coffee shop and write. I was only there for about an hour and a half and it was so good. Granted, I don’t think I had enough writing planned for today. I think I need to increase how much story I work on on Mondays. Still, by 2pm, I was done everything, and it felt good.

Mondays aren’t so bad when you’re retired. But right now, I’m wiped and so I’m going to pass out and hope that I have as productive of a day tomorrow.

Exhaustion

It wasn’t until 4pm today that I realized I hadn’t posted a blog yesterday. I’m not going to lie, I was feeling a bit under the weather again, and I’ve got a bunch of stuff coming up this week, so I need to take care of myself. Mostly, though, I just passed out at the end of the night and was dead to the world for a solid nine hours.

When I was in the workforce full-time, I was working ten hour days, five days a week. If you add my commute time, I basically spent a solid 12 hours a day at work, or traveling to or from I hated it. I hated how, after I accounted for work and sleep, I only had four hours to myself on any given work day. Let’s just say that it was usually the sleep and social life that suffered. There was no work-life balance, which is part of the reason that I was very adamant about leaving. The job was also very physical. I was on my feet for the majority of those ten hours. When I would get off, my feet would be killing me, I’d often be limping, and I didn’t want to do anything where I had to move. For the most part, though, it wasn’t very mentally draining. In my opinion, I felt like a glorified babysitter; as long as no one died and the store didn’t burn down, I was doing my job right. Yes, that is oversimplifying it, but I definitely didn’t have to employ all parts of my brain to do the job. Now that I’ve switch gears, things are different. When I work casually, it’s usually mostly physical, but also the shifts are short, so it doesn’t generally bother me or make me hurt. However, when I spend the day, or even several hours writing, I find that my brain is hurting. I think part of it is because I’m not used to writing or delving into my world as much as I have been lately, but also it’s because my world is so huge and complex. Sure, I’m only working on one story right now, but there are so many moving pieces in it, and then in tying it to Elyria proper. Plus, because I’m someone that likes to know what happens to the characters outside of the story, as I mentioned before, I’m expending extra brainpower on something that I may not even ever use. I’m okay with it, but it’s just killing me a little. Which is why I just crashed last night.

That’s the great thing about focusing on my writing though, and working for myself. When I get exhausted, or when I am having a bad mental health day, I can take it off. I don’t need to feel guilty, or lie, or try to explain to someone why I don’t feel like I can come into work today. I know myself well enough by now to know when I’m falling off the edge and when I need to focus on myself and my well-being. And it’s great that I’m the only one to answer to, because I’m the best boss and I’ll always let me take time off. Granted, I’ll let myself take time off even when I’m not crashing. Ironically, the one thing that has always helped me pull out of downward spirals, or get me out of a funk, is writing, so I really shouldn’t be taking time off. But that’s besides the point.

In good news, I think I am really starting to get into a groove, now that I’ve actually decided to sit down and write regularly. I managed to get quite a bit typed up yesterday as well as add to some older stuff. I’m really feeling like I’m in the zone with this story now. Whereas before I was trying to figure out what I could do to not actually work on my writing, now I’m annoyed that people want to hang out or eat food, because I just want to keep writing. That’s not quite right, because I do want that work-life balance, but it sucks when I just really want to get down to writing and people want to do fun stuff and they invite me out, because I’ll never say no. Still, I’m feeling great about the progress I’ve been making. Soon, I’ll have all the characters and places typed up, and then I’ll be able to move on to shoring up the plot and making sure everything works out. I guess taking that mental health crash last night was a good thing. Who would’ve thought.

Conflicted

I’m feeling a little conflicted and I think it’s stemming back to being programmed from a young age to get up early, go to school, and later work, get stuff done, then come home and relax, only to repeat it the following day. That’s what I know and it’s kind of what I was basing my planned daily routine on. As we know, that hasn’t gone well. Now, at the end of the week I can look back and reflect over the days that I got stuff done, and the main similarity was that I slept in until I naturally woke up, and then I buckled down for an hour or so and was more productive than on days I was trying to adhere to a specific schedule. So I’m thinking that maybe I should just sleep when I want and work when I want, and then everything will work out. I mean, it doesn’t hurt to try. And the agenda is certainly helping things. If I have a set amount of things that I want to do in a day, versus set things to do at set times, I feel like I’ll be more productive. So much for being structured.

Then again, I was never good at structure and deadlines. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t miss deadlines, I just wait until the last possible moment to start something, while still leaving myself enough time to get things done. I’m starting to think that I work good under pressure and/or when I have nothing telling me what to do. Interesting. It’s almost as if I just need to chill out on what I am trying to do and it will happen naturally. I also kinda of want to move to a more nocturnal schedule. I think I mentioned it before, but I always feel more creative at night. I know that when I did NaNoWriMo, the majority of my writing happened after 7pm. It’s just better then. I don’t know why, but it just feels right, and I like when things don’t feel forced.

Today when I was writing, it didn’t feel forced at all. I was excited to be doing it, and so I started to try to think of ways that I could keep up this excitement. One of the things that I really like to do is share my world and my stories with people. It makes me so happy to be able to weave a narrative and to bring people along with me. There’s this character in the current story I am working on named Luken Wolfe. He’s been around for a while because he’s existed in various forms since the first iteration of this story. A few months ago I brainstormed his backstory and I found it very interesting. However, I can’t see how the depth of it will ever fit into the story I’m working on. The story is not about him. Yes, I would say that he’s one of the main characters, but he’s not THE main character. Still, I kind of want to share his story from before he shows up in the actual story. I’ve been thinking about maybe writing a novella about him, which would be a good way to share his story and, in turn make me more excited to write the main story so people can find out what happens to him. My only fear with that is revealing too much information about the actual story beforehand, like things that are fact to me, but that would be huge spoilers to anyone who doesn’t know the story. Regardless, it’s something that I think I’ll eventually do, because I think his path to the story is rather interesting and I would love for other people too know it.

Focus

First of all, let’s talk about the elephant in the blog, aka the fact that I didn’t post yesterday. I just felt like crap yesterday and I looked at my computer and was like “nope, not going to happen.” And it’s definitely okay to take days off. I could have pumped something out yesterday, but it would have been drivel. It wouldn’t have been worth reading, in my opinion. Though, sometimes I do question if what I write is work reading at all. I guess where I’m trying to go with this, is that if you have a job and you are sick, you can take a day off. Therefore, why can’t I? I definitely need to prioritize self-care as I try to ramp up with the writing.

On Tuesday, I had a very life focused day, which means I did little to no work. I also misplaced my agenda, which I didn’t realize until I found it today, because I wasn’t really looking to use it yesterday. However, because I had those two “days off” and hadn’t set up my agenda for today, I felt like I was very unfocused. Maybe it’s just the remnants of whatever was messing with my system yesterday, but I could not get honed in on anything for more than fifteen minutes today. It was just not a productive day at all. I felt bored and/or agitated for the majority of the day. I think part of it was because I was having issues with my vlog not exporting, and so that was constantly in the back of my mind. But also, I think it was just a rubbish day for trying to get stuff done. I really want to be either kicking myself in the butt for not accomplishing things, or kicking myself to get stuff done, but it’s definitely not happening today. I need to get focused and I need to get my drive going.

I keep using the excuse that “tomorrow is another day”, but then something always comes up. Next week is a crazy week for me because I have some travel and a wedding to attend, so I don’t foresee myself doing much writing. And then it’s August.

When I first quit my job, my plan was to have June and July off and to write as much as I could in the time period, before maybe looking for a part-time or casual job in August. Well, that didn’t really go as planned and I spent the majority of June doing some casual work, which has continued into July, though at a lesser pace. I’m sure it can continue into August if I want it to, as well. Which would be fine. But I need to focus on writing, which is what I want to do for the rest of my life.

I recently mentioned to someone that I’d be okay making very little money a month/a year writing, as long as it was enough that that was all I had to do. Because all I want to do it write. They told me that I could keep writing even if I get a real job and that I should never give up my passion. But that’s not the point. I want to write and somehow make even a tiny little profit to be able to just do that. To have someone ask me what I do for a living a say “I’m an author” and have them ask me what books I’ve written, instead of having to say “I’m trying to be an author” and getting those odd and sometimes sympathetic looks. Then people ask you what your story is about, and it’s always a little hard to explain without giving too much away. Then they just kind of drift away. Maybe soon I’ll have the former. But that all depends on me, doesn’t it?

A Social Life?

After kind of figuring out what works for me in terms of being productive, everything was put on hold by the super social day I had today. I have done nothing in regards to my writing. The only productive things I’ll be able to add to the scoreboard today are writing this post and editing my vlog, though I feel like I may have to redo the latter. Then again, part of why I jumped on this crazy new adventure of mine was because I had no work/life balance and definitely no social life. Which means that I’m okay with having days like this. Plus, I was so amazingly productive yesterday that it makes it okay. I definitely think it’s key that I be willing to work at any time of the day.

When I first set out the terrible routine that I have still yet to adhere to, I had it set up so I would be done working around 4pm, but I just don’t think that’s realistic. I think it’s better to have a list of things I want to accomplish in the day and just make sure that I get them all done by the time the day is over. Basically, I think I need to meld the routine with using my agenda. If I can do that, I think I’ll be well on my way with a formula for success. Right now, though, I’m super excited with anything that manage to get done. I’ve only been out of the real workforce for about two months, and it’s not even fully out of the workforce, because I’ve been reluctantly picking up shifts here and there. But I think it takes a while to adjust from working for someone else, and their expectations, so working for yourself and setting your own expectations. The other day, someone told me about two of their friends who had independently quit the workforce in order to write. It took one of them over a year to get into a groove, and the other one is several months in and still not there. It’s great to hear that, because it helps put things into perspective for me, but I would definitely like to far surpass that one year mark and hopefully be putting out quality content in the next few months. I can only work as hard as I can and hope that that’s enough.

Agenda, Who Would’ve Thought?

Over the course of last week as I tried and failed to get into my routine, I was starting to think that maybe that wasn’t the right course of action for me. I kept trying to get up early in the morning and that was a fail. Last night I sat down and wrote stuff in my agenda. I have a nice agenda and even nicer intentions of using it on a regular basis because I know it works. I think the main reason I got through school, especially university, was because I kept everything written in my agenda and if I didn’t get something done, I would move it to another day. I never learned how to study and I wouldn’t say I was a particularly good student, but I was organized and that helped me hand everything in on time.

Who would have thought that I could use an agenda in real life and be just as successful? Thankfully, me, because I started using it today and have learned a few things. Like, if I write it down in the agenda, I will do it, and also, I need to write more things down per day because I finished all my tasks for today and did some for proceeding days this week. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I slept in super late and I probably had one of the more productive days that I’ve had since I “retired”. I think my best course of action going forward will be to utilize this awesome tool to get stuff done. Even though I’m not following my routine very well, I still feel like I have climbed over the hump of non-productivity. I think I am heading in the right direction.