December 31st, 2019 – 461

Short one today. Need to write, but TSS is done. I wrote 4,200 words yesterday, and now I’m enjoying a nice quiet new year. Best year of my writing career. Here’s to 2020 being even better.

See ya in the new year when we’ll be rejoining the madcap adventures of William Howard Taft. Have a good one.

December 30th, 2019 – 460

I’m consoling myself that as it’s New Years Eve tomorrow I’ll be up super late anyway tomorrow, so ‘fixing’ my sleeping tonight was never going to be that practical. All the same I’m at 10pm – again – and have written nothing yet – again. That’s not fantastic to be honest, and were it not for a certain twist, I’d be annoyed.

Despite it being ten degrees centigrade in the flat, it’s almost tidy again. Front room and kitchen are sorted, bedroom just needs clothes hung and put into wash, and office is almost there too. That’s worth more to me than afternoon target by a long way. It means I have my flat back at long last, after every inch of free time since August got stolen by other causes and illnesses.

TSS is at 80K and I’m about to write the penultimate chapter, if you exclude the epilogue. I do, because I view prologes and epilogues as “necessary extras” rather than part of the story itself. It’s why I rarely include the former. Well I say rarely, 2 out of 4 of my books have one. But I’m not making a habit of that, and TFS won’t have one.

It’s still a good note to be closing the year on. When I write TSS today it’ll be 65 days straight I’ve written it as main content. If – and it’s a huge if – I keep the chain going until February, then it’ll have lasted a fifth of the entire length of 1K. That’s insane. This time last year, half my 1K days were braindumps into Google Docs. Goes to show where persistance gets you.

December 29th, 2019 – 459

Really wanted an afternoon wrap up today, so a 10pm finish isn’t ideal. The fact it’s not the finish and I haven’t started, somewhat less so. But right now, the inside of my house is close to the temperature outside, and I need to get the gas line refitted soon to undo that. As a result, I’m spending a lot of my days in bed, and working from the laptop. Today I managed to reverse that and spent most of the day on my PC, but hey, I have video games I want to play and this is the first chance I’m getting.

When I do write though, TSS is going to hit 80,000 words tonight. I was rereading my blog posts from late September and early October the other day, and past me had no inkling I’d pull that off. I had the 31st deadline for the draft, but on the blog and more so my journal, I was hedging that bet hard. Now, even if I manage to not write today or the remaining days, I have near enough a complete manuscript. You could even copy and paste the old ending onto this new one and call it done. I mean, I won’t, but you could.

On January 1st, I’m switching right into WHT. No break or pause, it’ll be a clean transition between the two projects. It’s quite exciting to think about. This has been a hell of a year. I can’t wait to grow even more in years to come.

December 28th, 2019 – 458

The last few days I’ve had a lingering stress growing in my head, which has taken the edge off the Christmas high a bit. Last night I was ill in the middle of the night, which sucked a lot. But waking up today, I think it might have done the trick. I managed to get a full night which is good, and I don’t feel ill now, which is fantastic. Given all this, my plan for the next few days is simple: relax, and do as little as possible.

That sounds on the face of it like a silly thing to say. I’m on a Christmas holiday, what else would I be doing? While yes in theory that is true, having this much time off does tempt me even as I write this to try for a big wordcount day. That is what I’m worried about, and what I need to tell myself not to do. I have to let myself recover from a busy year and intense run of projects. Miscalculations in September almost threw my whole publishing schedule out of whack, and if I’m going to transition into writing WHT up after New Years, I need to keep my current momentum up.

The good news is it looks as if I will hit my deadline. I moved TSS’s deadline from December 13th to December 31st, swapping the digits round to account for the disastrous month of October, and there is a strong chance I have a finished draft of TSS by that time. If I do, that clean break is invaluable and gives me a clear three months and thirteen days to get through WHT. If I keep my current pace up, I will finish that in good time, unless WHT ends up nearer 110,000 words in length. I want to avoid that.

I suppose it’s worth talking about why I aim for shorter novels rather than the 190K behemoths some fantasy literature throws into the world. I do like those stories too, and longer books can give richer experiences. But they can also drag, pretty hard. If you drop a note in a 75-95K story, the beats will right the ship in a chapter at most. In a story twice that length, it isn’t two chapters, but usually nearer to five. Why is that? Because longer novels by their nature rabbit hole. They go down a lot of routes a tight story doesn’t. Sometimes it’s the best part of the book. Sometimes it’s where the reader loses interest and moves on.

Long story short – see what I did there – I don’t feel I have the talent to do the latter with consistency, so right now a tight story is my friend. I can use that to demonstrate I am capable of writing well structured and gripping plots. When I get better, my work I guess will get longer. I’d be lying if I didn’t also note 90K works well for my “three/four month sprints”. While this is my unpaid second job, it’s vital I use my time in a smart way. If I go too long, I will lose not only potential readers based on the above, but also time for more projects. And this is the year I want to write a lot more projects.

I’m going to chill for a bit, and if I can do 1K before I have to go out at 4 I will. But goal number one is keep my head on straight, and stick to the plan.

December 27th, 2019 – 457

I have spent today orbiting around Magic cards in one form or another. I won three games of commander, my Secret Lairs arrived and I got a super expensive Planeswalker. I got a Selesnya mug that’s super nice and I’ll be having my coffee in that later.

Ok that’s the gibberish on Magic to switch off my imaginary readers’ attention. TSS to write when I get home, and I feel pretty great about that. I’ve written the “different” chapter and it’s pretty awful at the moment, but I’ll be able to fix it in time. It’s better I power ahead for now and work on fixing it when I can.

I’m doing ok. Christmas helped and I’m in a good headspace at the moment. I’m not 100% yet, but I’m a lot better than I have been in a long time. I’m happy, and yes that’s not a sustainable state, but it’s nice while it lasts and I’ve made the most of it.

December 26th, 2019 – 456

As you might imagine, it has been a pretty busy couple of days for me here. I’ve managed to turn out a lot of TSS content and still chained each 1K as 100% TSS. I’m, reasonably relaxed. Christmas has been nice across the three-day celebration it morphed into this year, and tomorrow will be a nice quietish day where I should, fingers crossed, get some cards in the post of the Magic variety. It’s the time of year I have to specify that, though late Christmas cards would also be nice. I never send any, not sure why. I should try and do better on that next year.

Got a biblical amount of Bourbon to tide me over to, at least Saturday. Woodford Reserve is a nice whisky that helps give me a bit of a needed bite. Trying to make it last so spending a while on each glass – I drink it straight and no ice – taking in the aroma before I drink. It’s a treat and helps me relax into a bout of writing. Of course, it is a depressant too, so I should either balance it out with a coffee or ride the spike on drinking until I have my target, then rest. I see alcohol and coffee as vital writing tools because without them I am at risk of becoming a non-stereotype. Dun dun dun. Ok, I may have had a little too much earlier.

Tough chapter I’m finishing tonight. Chapter 42 takes a big departure in structure, not only to present exposition but to take us into the mind of a whole other character. This is a weird curve for me because I’m used to being inside one of two character’s heads for almost the entire story. It’s also been a long day so the idea of diving into that is a little bit eugh, but I can power through that. I mean I have to, that’s how this writing dealio works. All the same I think a coffee might not be the worst idea right now. Instant though, I need simple right now.

December 24th, 2019 – 454

Keeping today, tomorrow and the 26th quite short as this is going to be a busy three day stretch. I’ve had a few too many short posts this month which isn’t ideal, but given context is about what you’d expect. Even so I should try and make a few more substantial posts in the new year. I’m just glad the habit’s stayed in tact.

Have managed to stay pretty on top of everything all told today, which is impressive as I pretty much didn’t sleep. Don’t know why. You’d hope that might translate into more words of TSS at least. Well, it did, 2,600 words to be exact. So that’s pretty neat. Fingers crossed though I get more sleep tonight.

December 23rd, 2019 – 453

I’m a bit out of sorts at the moment. Call it being far too tired still, or downing a bunch of spirits and chillis and being a bit off my face because of it, but I am not feeling all together with it. I should go make myself a coffee after I finish writing this, that would help a lot I think. What will help even more is getting target done much earlier today and getting back into my good routine. I should wake at 8 and sleep at 10. I should write sooner, not later, and not at 2 in the morning. Simple.

You know by now it’s never that simple right? No one has it that simple you might think, but some of you out there will know darn well it can be simple. I’m one of them, plot twist, this one is simple. Do it a bunch of times until you do it on autopilot. You know, like every other habit ever? So why do I keep screwing it up? This paragraph is a mess of convoluted plot twists, but here’s another: I know the answer to this one too, I just don’t do anything about it.

Habits are great, except when they’re not. But all habits are fragile. I’m feeling parched, and when I feel stressed and parched, I will always reach for alcohol over anything else. That’s fine – I’m ok with being a stereotype – but it’s not all that helpful to use a depressant when trying to write cohesive prose. So I change the routine to be when I feel parched and stressed, I drink some squash. Job done, right? Nope, because if I get really stressed, I grab the gin. The old routine is still lurking in my head, and if I’m not careful, boom, back where I started.

So how do you work around fragile habits? Well, in a full circle, repetition is the answer. Keep doing the thing you want to have as the normal, and it becomes the normal. You may look at that, frown at your screen, then mutter something to the affect of “so to do the thing, just do the thing…” and well, I deserve that. It’s a bit more complex, but in essence, keep doing something, and the more you do it the less you think about it. Keep doing it when you have a certain craving, and you’ll do it on autopilot. I never said it wasn’t work, and there’s a reason I’m no expert at it yet. It takes time.

So writing TSS, that’s going pretty well even considering the above, and I should finish chapter 40 today. That’s 41 including the prologue, which has thrown my maths off a few times because it’s rare I include a prologue at all. As there is a significant time jump though I felt it was somewhat needed. It’s good prep though as WHT also has a prologue for much the same reason, with an even bigger jump for that matter. I’m pretty excited to start work on that to be honest, and wish I could have a burst of words someday over this holiday so I can hit the ground running on it before the end of the year.

Right, time to finish up and get to it. Story isn’t going to write itself, no matter what habits I give it. That, doesn’t even make sense.

December 22nd, 2019 – 452

Knackered. It’s been a busy-ish day, but not bad busy. I spent today with family and it was a nice wholesome experience. It has meant I haven’t written yet though and I feel myself still stuck in this page night cycle that I dislike.

Gonna finish up and sleep on it.

(Damn it forgot to hit upload)