June 20th, 2019

I hate being ill, but I love defying it and making a sustainable routine in spite of it. If I leave the house at quarter past 8 – yeah I felt that rough this morning – but I get to the library for around 33 past, I can bank 400+ words. That’s on a bad day. On a good day, I arrive even earlier, start in the canteen, and at that point it’s not even going to be all that challenging to hit target before work even starts.

To put that in context, in most of the instances of me hitting target before 10am on work days in the past, I did so with a last-minute burst of 200~ words when I got to my desk. I’m talking hitting target before I go anywhere near my desk, subjectively speaking. I mean I can see my desk from the library but that’s not the point.

I am pretty satisfied with this turn all in all. I think on days when I struggle with direction on the plot this won’t be as clean cut, but I might manage to squeeze out just enough in the morning to give me food for thought, so a day doing work may give me the headspace to unkink the plot at that point.

It’s become pretty clear I will struggle to fit all of WHT into one journal, so I am now facing a wonderful – if expensive – problem. For the first time, I am at risk of having too few journals. That is a little freaky, and a touch misleading as I have several much larger ones that I could switch to. That being said, those journals are a bit too bulky for my needs.

The journal I use as my diary of sorts is perfect by comparison. Guess what? DISCONTINUED. Because of course it is. People question me when I’m shopping why I will see a journal I like and buy four of them. This, reshing stuff like this. See that’s how frustrated I am, I still refuse to swear on here where possible so I have to resort to fictional swearing. Thank you, Andrew Rowe, you are my salvation.

Long story short, I need to do a bit of a hunt for some longer journals that I can switch to. I think Moleskine would work as they have a high density of lines per page, and after finishing up Volcano in one they have grown on me, but even then I suspect they might not be quite long enough.

I don’t mind a story overflowing, but I do have an exception rapidly approaching. TLG has to fit into one journal. I already own said journal, and it’s been sitting on my shelf for years now:

(Source – https://shauntafft.weebly.com/slip-covers-for-books.html)

The journal nearest the camera here is the one I wrote version 1 of The Unreachable Star in, all the way back in 2012. Back then, writing one 32,000 word story in the space of two and a bit months was a big deal. Writing a story that wasn’t autobiographical was a big deal. Moreover, and coming back to the whole why-do-the-best-journals-get-discontinued rant, this line of Letts Breast Cancer Awareness journals are, I swear to god, the best journals out there. Period.

I only own three, but these three make up what I call the “Core Trilogy” of The Service to OreThe Unreachable StarThe Spectrum Sings (which version one of which lives in the middle journal, written in late 2014), and The Long Goodbye. That journal has sat empty and waiting, as after TSS, I started to expand the universe and pull in all my minor project ideas, like Taft and Volcano.

It will be tough to fit the whole story into that one book, but here’s the kicker: one of the reasons those journals stood out, was how big they are compared to most of their contemporaries. I can’t emphasise this enough: modern journals are nowhere near thicc enough for me.

I still haven’t designed a little wallet-sized card for my WHT remaining lives, and I still really want to do this. I was thinking about something like you get at coffee places, where I stamp off “lives” as they are expended.

Come to think of it I love the idea of a fantasy series where people have extra lives expended in this way. Maybe a future project? Or if one of you imaginary readers out there wants to run with that or knows of someone who has already written it I’d love to read it.

Anyway that’s enough for today. I still haven’t had breakfast, and I need to do some work. Also design that lives card. And do some WattPad interactions. Basically I need to stop rambling and get on with stuff. So I am now going to. Ok bye.

June 19th, 2019

My writing is going much better now. For several weeks I have been struggling with late night bursts to hit target, and the knock-on effect has cost me so much sleep. this week I have had one day that fell below eight hours, and that day was Monday. I still managed 7 hours and 37 minutes that day, so a respectable total.

So sleep is a key part of 1K being as efficient as it can be. I find myself still having to push for that last 150 to hit target each day at the moment, and that makes sense. While I have gotten a high average amount of restful sleep, I am still recovering from my latest mental hiccup. That takes time, but I am confident now about how to go about breaking those chains. When I start to feel overwhelmed, I write a short story to hit target really early, then I go to sleep super early.

On that note, I still need to design some kind of “lives” system for WHT, as well as produce 650 more words for the story. I know that looks like too much, but I picked up the rest of today’s current total with some tweaks to Chapter 5 of TUS, which I am uploading to WattPad later today. In the meantime, I have a gap between work tasks to plan how this ‘lives’ system would work.

As of yesterday I have eight weeks, or from and including today 56 days to finish WHT. The story sits at about 32,000 words, maybe 33,000. That means I have thirteen ‘lives’ – days I can afford to not be writing the story and still hit my deadline. As at present I am writing near-enough exactly 1,000 of the story a day I won’t complicate things with “gaining lives”.

I have also decided that rather than push myself up against the deadline, I should have the appearance of a much tighter deadline. As such, I decided that I’d make like a cat and have nine lives. That is the same as one per week, plus an extra. If I don’t use one this week, then it’ll be the same as one per week plus two extras, and so on. As for how I will track this, I am leaning towards a physical card of some kind, but I am not sure what.

In terms of other goals right now, I want to rework this site to have a more commercial landing page. Right now for context going to samshuttleworth.com takes you to the blog right away. That’s not a huge problem while my readership is small, but I should have a big link that says “Go here to read The Unreachable Star on WattPad! Updates each Wednesday!”. 

It would also be a good shout at some point for me to start writing some articles on here, but I’m holding fire on that for now. In time, I would like to take what I have learned from 1K, as well as the three books that function as its cornerstones: Getting Things DoneThe Power of Habit, and Enough. Taking my own spin on GTD and Enoughism in the form of a “1K how to” doesn’t seem too audacious as its working, but might make more sense with a larger audience.

For now, I am going to get back to work and keep thinking about how to display my ‘lives’ system. I can’t tell you how nice it is to feel back in the driving seat. I owe it all to 1K.

June 18th, 2019

Now THAT’S more like it! I am still in oral agony from a ton of ulcers and unable to eat with my mouth closed and feeling super run down and just hanging in there, but I wrote this morning. The plan more or less worked.

I got up at 7:32, and managed to leave the house half an hour later. That was easy enough to do, so if I can start at 7:01 like I used to before things unravelled a bit, then leaving at half 7 in the morning works great. All in all that was a breath of fresh air, followed by my next hurdle.

I arrived at the college at about 20 past 8. It’s a good thing that I didn’t arrive later, or I wouldn’t now know the library opens at 8:30. That is a little unfortunate, but I still managed to hit 315 words in about 20 minutes.

I know from experience that this is a little below par for what I can produce in that amount of time, but this was my first bout of morning writing in weeks. Still, it shows that I have to get myself back into writing-shape like I did with my physical shape.

So I managed all but my “design extra lives” card for WHT goal from yesterday, but seeing as I managed to then achieve a portion of my morning goal I cannot complain too much. Between now and 5 on the side I will doodle out some designs for that lives system.

Other than that, I will go for a walk at lunchtime, and then I will write at 5. I don’t know if I have RP tonight but if I do then it’s good I have words already banked.

Right, off for my team meeting at work. Catch you later.


June 17th, 2019

I hate being ill.

Since I got my act together, I have gotten used to my new mode: I say I am going to do something, then I do it. Being ill, well it complicates that. This is because I am stubborn and far too optimistic for my own good, so when I set a goal I make it ambitious. I then push myself really hard to reach it, and then I achieve it. Cue the fireworks.

…Except when I am ill, I cannot guarantee I will be lucid enough for, well, any of that. Take last night: in my journal I wrote that I was going to aim to be up for 7:30, leave the house at 7:40 and get an hour of walking in, followed by 20 minutes of writing before I move on to my desk. Great on paper, but it took me well over an hour to get to sleep, and it was late as it was. I just about made it in on time leaving at my normal cue.

So what do I do about being ill? Well, my usual plan is to ignore it until it goes away and pretend for the most part nothing is wrong. As much as I dislike following male stereotypes this is one I can’t really shrug off. Ignoring it does not seem to be doing me any wonders. My next instinct would be to rest it off, and that is what I spent this weekend trying to do.

Whether I had too large a deficit to erase with one restful weekend – well, one restful Sunday but it’s a start – or I am actually ill-ill I do not know. I doubt the latter as I don’t feel that bad, but bad enough that I can’t fire on all cylinders. I am aware of having 58 days to write approximately 45,000 words of content. That’s more than I worked out in my head that I had, but it’s tight, and I need to get back to peak to hit it.

So solutions time. I think the best thing I can do is give up writing at lunch today and go for a walk instead. If I use the bulk of my break for it – say half an hour – then I will be able to get my brain flowing enough that I should at the very least get through work without any further hiccups. That alone would be a huge victory as I could keep my brain working just enough to write at 5. It’s Monday so staying at my desk until 6 should be no problem.

The next thing I need to do is be asleep by 10. No really, by 10. I have had enough of compromises that see me asleep by ‘gone-12’, and it has to stop. What I would really like is if I could show a feed of my sleep on here, so I felt the same kind of accountability I do for my writing, but I don’t think outside of upgrading my membership – expensive – or building my own WordPress hosted internally – too much hassle right now – that I can do this.

On that note, I have an interesting idea. I have 13 spare days to finish WHT in. I don’t like the idea of punishing myself for failing to write in a day, but I had a curious thought as I worked out how many days I had left for what I wrote above. What if I treated those like lives? So I have 13 lives, and if I don’t add a thousand words to WHT, I lose a life.

Sounds a little grim, until you consider the silver lining: once I hit a thousand, if I keep going, I can log that many words as extra. It doesn’t offset a day’s 1K quota, but if over three days I produce 4,000 words of WHT, it stands to reason I would gain a life. Because really they’re not lives in any traditional sense anyway, they’re:

DaysUntilAugustThirteenth – Words/1,000

If I gain an extra 300 words one day, 100 a few days later and have a handful of 50s here and there, over a month I might gain an extra life without any extra consious effort. To be honest I have likely done this in places as it is. So the main things I need to do today are as follows:

  • Go for a walk at lunchtime.
  • Design myself a WHT “Remaining Lives” card.
  • Write WHT at my desk at 5pm.
  • Go home and eat on time.
  • Be in bed at 9pm.

Ill or not, that is doable. I will kick myself if I somehow screw up a simple list like that.

Oh of note, I said before I would link to the short stories I had been producing; for now, I am going to stop doing that in case I decide I want to rework them into an actual mythos later. You’re not missing out on much; the stories have merit, but they were written to hit target rather than to be the best they could be. That’s still miles better than not writing at all, so I consider that a win.

June 16th, 2019

Ok, so tomorrow did not go well for writing. I’d claim “today will be different” but something tells me such statements are jynxed from the start. So instead I’ll say that I hope to feel relaxed and at ease by the end of this day, focused on hitting the ground running this week.

Running is the key part here, as I have now chained several days of non-WHT content, and have to offset it with a streak of content twice as long. No I’m not kidding, that’s how dire an extended break at this stage is; I lost a month of content don’t forget.

If I’m to assume I lose today too – not certain, I might go to Skylark later – then I have serious ground to make up. For now though I want to focus on playing some Minecraft. You know the last time I spent more than 20 minutes of a day on a video game? February. As you might guess, I failed yesterday…

June 15th, 2019

I slept for 13 hours. Yeah I think it’s safe to say I was run down. For that matter I still am, and this is going to be a quiet day if it kills me. Sadly I don’t get to spend it on my own but you can be damn well sure I’m not doing anything that requires effort.

That is except writing 1K of WHT, because I can’t chain too many days of other content. I think that’s fine though, but right now imma go play some Minecraft.

June 14th, 2019

Well that went horribly wrong. I decided to be social yesterday instead of resting up. To give you some idea of how much that backfired, I nearly had to call in sick today. As it is I can just about function, but I am what you might call “critical” right now, whereby if I don’t start easing off the “always available, always on” mentality, then I am going to crash hard imminently.

Did not manage to write WHT yesterday with all that, so I have another short story to link below. I am feeling pretty positive about my “Living Earth Mythos”, though all the short stories so far are A) too short, and 2) in need of quality/consistency rewrites. Having this little sub-series going on is heartening for me, as even if it is not a full blown project yet I’m still growing two different worlds side by side. That is a first for me.

Right, so today is a bit quieter, so if I can keep my head together and make it to 5 then I can squeeze out another short – I don’t hold out much hope for WHT when I am like this – and then I am going to sleep at 8. Enough of this mess. The last three months have been so unpleasant, but I am glad that despite everything I am still churning out content at a reasonable rate considering an intense full time job.

Now if only people were reading it…

June 13th, 2019

Yesterday WHT reached 30,000 words in length. All told that puts the halfway point the equivalent of a short chapter – 8,000 words – within grasp. This is pretty exciting for me all told as I have never successfully chained two projects like this. While I am not going to attempt NaNoWriMo later this year unless I hit the ground running with TSS right after, I almost don’t need to.

This is because for me my writing is not about publicity. I would like to be able to turn writing into my full time profession, but I would continue to write even if I had to chain multiple jobs for enough income alongside it. I’m grateful that for now I balance with one mainstream job, but all the same if writing was my job – which to be honest is how I now see it in my head – I imagine I would be achieving mini NaNoWriMos throughout the whole year.

I managed to claw my sleep routine back into shape yesterday by writing from 5-6pm. I opened my journal as soon as I was off the clock, and took that following hour to correct my progress. My plan is to do the same today, and match that with a significant early night, say 8pm. If I manage that, I may be able to try to kick off my early walk/write plan I have been sitting on all this time.

I am considering my next steps if the above works too. If I am able to produce 1K earlier in the day once again in a more sustainable way, then I think I should follow that up with more short story writing. If I publish these as an anthology to WattPad then it allows me to build more attention with more frequent updates. I think for this to be feasible I would need to have a bank of at least 20, with the idea being to release two a week alongside main content for 5,000 to 6,000 words a week.

Merits more thought.

June 12th, 2019

I have an Urza at last!

Ok this time no paragraphs of Magic gibberish. I am so shattered, and really it’s my own fault. I keep doing my daily writing far too late, and that chains exhaustion together to the point I end up in a permanent state of fatigue. In the last ten days I have not managed eight hours of sleep for a night once. By this point I am coming close to non-functional.

I think for now this kills any side projects or any thought of NaNoWriMo. I am no where near ready for the intensity that dual wielding would entail. I want to get to that point, will need to in fact to make any money from this endeavour; quality quantity consistently delivered will be the long term means of building an audience.

The last two days I have managed tiny fractions of WHT, and otherwise wrote two short stories. I have linked to them below, and both are pretty rough at the moment. For some curious reason I keep writing horror in short form. I think the shorter medium is better for lulling false security then wrenching it away, at least for me right now.

I hope today marks me lifting myself out of this rut.

New Short Stories:

The Hungering Fruit

The Rumble Below

Both of these are, ok. They’re interesting starts, but neither is of fantastic quality yet. If I keep doing horror shorts on the side then there is some potential for a “living world” mythos being developed over time. One to think about. I will probably see if I do a few more, then if I start finding the series’ voice I may serialise these on WattPad alongside the main series.

June 11th, 2019

I had an awful night, but today I am driven and I have a little project I wanted to work on, so I’m going to do that for target today and squeeze in WHT if I have time. It is far better that I hit target early today and get some sleep than nail 1,000 words of the story, because I am out of sync at the moment and need to look after myself.

I won’t say any more about it yet, but I think it could be a really interesting side project. It may come to nothing, but it could also be a really great publicity piece. The one thing it will be missing if I follow through is the music. Maybe that is a small clue, but we will see. At the very least it should be a great piece of practice.

I have kept my routine in tact through the exams period, but now I should have a shot at pushing for the morning walk/writing model I discussed a short while ago. We will have to wait until tomorrow morning to see if it works, but I have cautious optimism.