May 31st, 2019

Ok I am getting sick of this now. In the last two weeks WHT has slowed to a snails pace, and there’s no point skirting around this: I’m only writing story content two out of every three days. That is not good enough. With that kind of ratio I need four months to write a new novel instead of three, and that does not include if I need time after finishing one like I did with Volcano. It means I take 5 months per new manuscript, which is not acceptable.

It’s also pretty damn funny, because if you’d told me a year ago I’d be cross that I could only produce a new manuscript every 5 months I would have slapped myself. There is no two ways about this: that is insane pace compared to where I came from before.

On my current calculations, if I get the turn around on TSS done in less than 3 months – a tall order even with a 45,000 word framework already in place – then I still finish the whole project on time, by the end of 2023. That’s still so tight I can’t even get my head around it, but it means 5 months is fine.

On paper. But to me it is not fine. I find it infuriating, because come on, I am better than that. I have the story, it’s a good story and it works. Why I am dragging my feet with all this going for me is a mystery. Well, it’s sort of a mystery, and at the same time I could list the factors. The issue is I do not know how to weight these factors:

  • Full time job
  • Active social life
  • Still lingering if heavily-neutered depression
  • General burnout
  • Distractions of the digital world
  • Existensial dread of pushing my work

To clarify on that last one, I have no issues with sharing my work, and none at all with critiques. If I get critiques I rework my prose and experiment. I do not get butt-hurt or protective, and do not dread negative responses.

No, my dread comes from the act of pushing my work. It feels weird and wrong, and I feel so awkward doing it. It’s a huge flaw in myself I need to work on, though not the next one on my kill list.

So there’s my problem: I have six demons – seven if you count you-know-who – and it is hard to know which front I need to push to regain ground. I want to get from 66% efficiancy up to at least 90% – or 9 in 10 days writing story content. That should not be impossible to do, but I need to get creative to get there. And lets be honest, I need to take my breaks at my job. Skipping those is helping no one, least of all my quality of work.

Oh so yesterday I did not write any WHT, but instead wrote a weird little first draft short story. It needs a lot of polish but figured I should share any short stories I do on here:

The House on the Hill – this one is a bit grim, but when are my short stories ever not. If I expanded on it a little and polished the language a little more this might have some appeal.

May 30th, 2019

This week has been, weird. Yesterday ended up as a bit of a failure as I had to do all my writing from about 10:50pm onwards. So today as a follow up to yesterday’s entry, I am going to post mortem the events that led to that problem, and what I think was the ultimate problem.

First let’s begin with the immediate aftermath of the blog entry. After completing the entry, I found myself feeling motivated to write right away. The reason I did not, was because I needed to get back to work. This is interesting, as it hints that a little writing exercise such as this goes a long way, and I should be experimenting with these more.

At lunch, I did not end up writing any words, and in part this was because I worked through it out of habit. This is tricky, and is a state of affairs so I have breaks free for other activities. That might seem counter intuitive – why not just use it as a break and write – but the reason is simple: my writing is poor while I eat.

I then took a break from my desk. I tried to sit in the library but it was closed at 1, which was about half an hour before I got there. I then sat in the cafe, opened the journal, and got spammed with phone calls from work numbers. I rushed back to my desk only to find there was no urgent issue. The only real take away from this is I should turn my phone off on break.

When it got to 5, I left work because I wanted to go to the shop. At the shop I fell into socialising rather than working in my downtime. Again, this is an outcome I could have told you would happen because that always happens. The frustrating part is in hindsight, I wish I’d just gone home and written. This is what I will be doing today.

So by the time we got to me being at home, I was stressed and exhausted. When I am like this, I cannot write stories, and even lore is a struggle. If I had written earlier in the day at almost any of the chances I had, I would have hit target with WHT; as it is, not a single word of target was WHT.

So how am I going to mitigate this today? Well for a start, I will take my actual break, and use it to write. I will stay after 5 until I hit target. Finally, I will go to bed a lot earlier tonight to offset the damage. On this note, I am going to stop replying to messages after 10pm. That pains me to do, but at this point for my health, I do not feel I have a choice.

May 29th, 2019

It’s a bit like teetering on the edge of a cliff being me right now. That simile is flawed because at the moment, I am stable, and I am getting all the work I need to done, both in my actual job, and in my writing. And yet, I feel as if I am on the edge of a plummet.

I think this is due to how tight a few areas of my life have become. For example, I have been lured time and again into later nights because of my friends in Australia and Canada – which I might add is because I enjoy talking to them, not anybody’s fault.

There is also the example of the mornings on the opposite end, where I am at present experimenting with making 8 hours sleep the priority over a 7am start. For the most part, I stand by that model, as I function significantly better on eight hours than on seven; it’s no contest.

The issue however becomes when to write. By getting those eight hours, I forfeit my morning writing. I then arrive at work, where I am awful at taking my breaks away from my desk, and feel awkward writing at my desk on my break. I even feel awkward taking the five minutes to write these posts.

So that then feeds into the 5-7 time block. I used to be far more lax with this block, but now if I am going out I make sure I do so right on 5, or if I am at home I cook much earlier. If I am in no rush I can do my “write at my desk between five and six, but on days like today I miss out if I don’t rush to the shop.

So now we get into dicey territory. If I am at the shop, I might only start writing at close to ten in the evening. Even on those days I am at home, it is rare that I ever start before nine, because I use that time to zone out. I could claim that time back, but this is in truth the only time I take all day to do anything of the sort.

And here it becomes dire: I start at around ten, but if I start talking to people this drags far later. And as soon as we reach eleven the situation becomes critical. I lose an hour of sleep each night as it is from restlessness, so the data my Fitbit shows me paints a stark picture: if I am not in bed with lights out by this point, I can’t get my eight hours even if I do sleep in.

This tailspin happens a lot at the moment, and if I am to become my most efficient, I have to develop failsafes to prevent it. So lets rewind to the night before to look at some key points, and see if we can spot the do-or-die moments. Spoilers, there’s a handful that define a successful day from a bad one.

The first is that lights out. As alluded to, if I do not manage it before eleven, the next day is sent into turmoil. So getting to that point should be a priority. As I will get to at the end of this analysis, this is the bare minimum I should be aiming for, and in reality I need to be much more strict.

If I am well rested and chain enough good days, then achieving the 7am start can be followed by morning writing. I used to view morning writing as the dream, and achieving target as early as possible if not a requirement, then certainly a bonus. In hindsight I do not think I appraised its value well.

If morning writing is treated as a bonus rather than the goal, we end up with a much different picture. In this instance, the idea of me going into work with target already done is magical-Christmas-land. This is not apt on its face as that does happen, but in almost all instances target is hit when I get into work, not at home. I write the last 200 or so words before I blog.

So is this rush the right way to look at target, or the reason that I end up then resisting morning writing if I do not feel I can write all 1,000 words in that sitting. The original idea of 1K was never “write 1,000 words at once once a day”, not least because that is a terrible mantra. Seeing as it does not need to come from any one work, why should I be so hung up on it all happening at once?

We then reach work, where perhaps the biggest roadblock sits: I do not take my breaks. Sure, I stop and eat, for maybe 10 minutes if that. I am entitled under my contract to longer than that – which is a good thing today as this entry is taking awhile, though I am working as I write this.

How do I fix this? Well the answer lies in that same mentality that dominates morning writing or not: I don’t have to write it all at work. Chipping off bits as and when I can should be easy, and might help my overall concentration. I already doodle to do just this, so why wouldn’t I write?

We know the 5-6 timeslot works, but on days like today the trade off is much larger, so I do not feel making this mandatory is the right step for me, at least at this time. That said, if I have no plans, I should be doing this to hit target so I can enjoy my evening. There isn’t really an excuse.

From there on, this becomes a lot more straight forward: write as soon as possible. No matter what is going on, writing if below target becomes the top priority. It has to be, because when I said I should be lights out by eleven, I should have said I have to be lights out by eleven. I should be by ten, and ideally by nine. Eleven shaves two perfectly good hours off my day that I do not enjoy using anyway.

On shop days like today, eleven works fine. I have to be able to go out and enjoy evenings when I am doing something. But outside of that, there’s no reason to sabotage the next day like that. And on weekends, while yes I should sleep until I have my eight hours regardless, if I foster these habits that becomes 7am anyway.

So I am going to put WHT on my desk now, and chip away at it bit by bit over today. If it is not done by 5 I will leave and go to the shop right away anyway, but I will be writing as I travel on the bus, and while at the shop until target is hit. I have to. This process demands order. And to be honest, my values do too.

May 28th, 2019

Eight months and one day into 1K. I did mean to acknowledge this yesterday but was still in a weird mental place at the time. By now back at my desk and with my day to day work-tasks I feel that weird cloud over me shifting away, so I feel more able to dive into this one.

I do find it curious that 1K has not cured my funny turns, but has beyond any doubt prevented them tearing at the other parts of my life. The closest idea I have for how to describe it would be it’s like a “Weeping Angel” problem, which 1K fixes by always keeping an eye on the encroaching problem. I tend to lose my grip when I stop paying attention, but because I do this blog and my journal each day I can see even the slightest shift into undesirable territory.

As for the actual content, I have produced WHT content for 3 days in a row now which is good, but not in the mornings. Today will be a trickier beast, but should be within my ability to pull off. Apart from no morning writing and an RP session tonight, I have my delayed food shopping after work. That makes today tight, but the silver lining is that as RP tonight is a session 0, I should be able to do some of my writing there. Combine that with a desire to recapture lunchtime writing, and I think I will still break even.


May 27th, 2019

I’m in a bit of a weird place at the moment. It’s hard to explain but I’m going to try and ramble it out and see where I end up. Suffice to say, I’m writing, which is good, and clicking with the story – also good.

I also feel disconnected from reality – less good. That’s a hard thing to unpick, but I think right now I’m in the same sort of state I end up in for most of my “goes a bit funny” phases, but because I have to write my 1K I’ve stayed consuous of what’s going on the whole time.

It’s left me in a sort of semi out of body state that is hard to describe. First, it shows I am much more burned out than I realised. Second it shows just how well 1K works at keeping my head on straight, and lastly, it feels really really weird.

Either way I’m back at work tomorrow and need to ensure I stay on a good routine in the meantime. That should be fine, but I’m either poorly or beyond full functionality right now, so who knows. I mean at least I’m writing.

WattPad is up to 13 views with one vote still. A friend suggested when I have a but more up that the views will come in more, so I’ll need to wait and see on that one. But even 13 and one vote feels pretty good.

May 26th, 2019

It’s embarrassing that it’s taken me one day shy of eight months straight of writing a thousand words every single day – fully aware from day one I might add that coffee helps me write – that going to sit in a cafe at midday on weekends after a full night’s sleep makes the task, well, easy.

In case this isn’t obvious, I am dumb. If I need to make it more obvious, try the fact that for years I only ever wrote in cafes because of how zen they are. The phrase “making this needlessly difficult” comes to mind.

I think that’s how I right the ship and keep it on course on weekends. The cafe I found a love for today was Skylark on Grove Road, which I will definitely if it’s open tomorrow come back to. I wrote well over target by a few hundred words, and I was a bit rushed because it was close to closing. If a coffee buys me an hour and I have the whole afternoon, I would happily drop £9 (3 coffees plus a generous tip) for target+.

After these last 3 days, I feel over my 20K slump, and I hope another doesn’t hit at 30K. I’ve got to be careful not to let that be self fulfilling. All told though I’m making incredible pace for me, so I can hardly complain. Now I just need to do that WattPad review spree…

May 25th, 2019

Today I rested up, and was going to devote my afternoon to writing. Once again that turned into me having to devote my energy over to someone else, which sounds really bad to complain about, but I do get a little frustrated at the lack of respect I can be shown at times.

The good news is yesterday I wrote 800 words of WHT as part of 1K, so I am clawwing my way back. If I am allowed to have my time off this time, I should be able to get back into the swing of the story again. When I wrote Volcano I did not struggle like this every 10K; a lot of the times it was much more subtle. I’m hoping the worst is passed me for now.

TUS is up to 9 reads on WattPad, which is nice. It also has one vote which is very satisfying to see. What I want to do is do a reviews binge on the site to make some friends and connections. That’s what I’ve heard is the best way to go about WattPad, and to be honest it’s just nice to be putting my work out there. If it gets traction great. If not, then ah well I tried. And as I have content guranteed for at least a year, and on current pace for two and a half, I can afford it to take awhile to achieve lift-off.

May 24th, 2019

I really need to get my head on straight.

I had a fun day yesterday, but ended up getting home much later than I originally meant to. And I ended up hitting target far later than I would have wanted to for a day off. It’s the result of a week filled with awful nights of less than 7 hours sleep, and I have to use my three day weekend to break that cycle.

I haven’t written much if any of WHT this week, and suprise suprise guess what the word count is? 20,000, or in other words yet again I hit a snag at a 10k mark. What’s really odd is I do not think the story itself caused it this time. I think I just had one of my bad turns.

I used to get these a lot. When I was younger or in my university days my mental health would snap, and I would go days at a time without sleep that after the fact I could not remember. The funny part is, I feel the same way as I did back then, but 1K has been working overtime as my anchor?

Is it super late? Write. Finished writing? Journal. Finished the journal? Sleep. Ok so I only got into bed at gone 1am, but this same kind of break in the past would have been at least one all nighter, and could have chained two. While my productivity on one specific project has slowed down, I am glad that as a whole I am in tact.

So yesterday I didn’t write what I meant to; if you read yesterday’s post I talked about writing some WattPad reviews, which is now kicking off fingers crossed at the latest tomorrow. Instead I wrote a surreal short story that I think was the result of my brain being a bit fried. However there’s no harm in sharing, so here you go:

May 23rd, 2019

WattPad launch is all done now; I’ll be hitting target today and hopefully smashing it by writing a ton of reviews on WattPad and in doing so hopefully gaining some attention. I’m going to read a bit of everything, and I hope make some friends doing it.

Hospital appointment today looks to have ruled out any form of lymphatic cancer at last, which is a huge weight off my shoulders. That’s not a pun I intended but I stand by it. More importantly it was at the Conquest hospital in Hastings, so I had an excuse to visit my favourite place in the world.

I used to spend hours on end here when I was younger. I’d hop on the train to Ore just to sit at the station on my own away from all the confusing parts of my life. I borrowed the location – if not the reason – for Heather’s character and her escape from the world. Most of my story ideas were conceived here.

There is a reason that the whole series is the “Service” to Ore. It’s my small way of honouring this place as my special escape. It’s wonderful coming here now because the station has really been looked after since I first came here. The bridge is painted and more sturdy; the CCTV is fixed, the litter is reduced and thanks to some new developments there’s a shop, Subway and even part of my own college nearby. The station actually gets used and that makes me happier than I can say. Ore deserved this love for years.

That’s where Halos appears, which is now much more inviting platform space than it used to be. It was never this well painted or tidy back then. It’s even more of a positive place to be now. I love just watching people flow through it. Much less lonely now.

This visit has done me a world of good. I do need to come back more often and soak it in. It doesn’t matter that it looks so different. Heck they could build a ticket office and rename it “Ore Valley” or even worse “Hastings East” and none of it would matter. It will always be Ore, always be that escape for me. I owe this little station everything.

May 22nd, 2019

I am exhausted, and I do need to write today don’t get me wrong, but I am too tired to write at the moment. I am operating on a very tiny amount of sleep, and it’s making me woozy and unable to focus. I am barely functioning, and that’s going to make today pretty stressful.

To be honest there’s not much I can do, except to muscle through today and then get some sleep after work. The tricky part of that, today is my one chance to go to the shop, so I have to make painful choices.

Oh and I now have to build the new Urza for a format, not sure if EDH or Modern. I adore it, but I’m sad I can’t make it work in my cube. That has nothing to do with writing, it’s just cool. ALSO SQUIRRELS. Ok enough.