February 28th, 2020 – 520

Keeping this short because, my brain isn’t working so well. I haven’t written a single word this morning, so I guess it’s going to be a tight lunch break today. That isn’t so bad, I work well under pressure in all areas of life. The real issue is why I didn’t write, because the answer is I don’t know. My best guess is my 5 hours sleep a few nights ago is a defecit I’m still working through, but even that seems wrong. It could be that I’m in the middle of a depressive spike – an odd term. I always call them that even though spike implies ‘up’. No real reason, except that I’m bad at metaphors. Except I’m not. Yeah you see how all over the place my brain is today?

In days gone by I would get through days like this at work by picking the most drudging tasks I could and doing them all at once. That sounds crazy until you consider: it’s not like I can get much lower. Why not tackle the nasty stuff in one go when I’m almost nonfunctional. When I write that out, it sounds crazier than I thought it would. Problem is I am on top of my workload so I don’t have a ton of jobs I’ve ‘put off’. I have tasks I need to get done today, but they’re all quite simple and straightforward, ideal for my mind wandering even lower. It would almost be good if a task exploded out of nowhere. Almost.

I am at least going to Mana tonight. Having something to look forward to counts for a lot right now. But without target already in the bag today already feels out of order, and I’m nervous about no target by 5pm. If that happens, I am not going to have a good evening. I may even face another 5 hour night, or worse. My head is not where I want it to be. But that’s obvious: almost none of this post is about writing. That is never a great sign…

February 27th, 2020 – 519

So I’ve made a tough decision, and one I do not relish. It means I have to do a lot of new planning, and will need to adjust a lot. My plan for the next three and a half years will look a lot different once I am done. And, I do not know if my work will be better for it. But it’s the right thing to do. From TFS onwards, and with two exceptions, I will type my first drafts. That might not sound like much, but it is a big shift for me. I type my first drafts to try and tease out better stories. But while this is a hobby, I don’t have the time to do that.

It, well it hurts to do this. I have no way of knowing if I’m good enough to trust I’ll get things right enough the first time to save them. You’re not supposed to nail the first draft. But, by forcing myself to redo each book no matter what, I force myself to question what I’ve written. I end up with two books for each book. TUS’s handwritten draft of 8 years ago bears almost no resemblence to the final version. Even WHT is close to unrecognisable. But how much value am I adding? I don’t know if this is procrastination, or if it is vital to the process.

I will be writing in a new way after WHT. First drasts I will write straight into Hemingway. When I upload chapters I will reread them with vigor, editing without care for any darlings contained. This is much as I write already, but I am doing away with so much at the same time. It will be a surreal, and not altogether pleasent transition, but if I am to ever make a success of this, I need a lot of content. I have to write faster, more, and longer, and get it into the world quicker. But all that is to come. For now, it’s time to get back to work.

February 26th, 2020 – 518

I deleted 1,500 words of WHT today. In normal circumstances, I never do big edits during a draft. If you make a habit of doing that you don’t get anything in the can at the end. Yes you might write something better if you edit as you go, but you should be doing that anyway when you edit. Mixing your stages doesn’t matter for some writers. It matters for me because I’m not as good as said writers. Few are, and I know a lot of amateurs who edit far, far too early.

But I made an excetption today, and I am glad that I did. The scene in question is one of the more important action centre pieces of the story, and I needed to be sure I nailed it. The actual nailing process will come in editing, but what I had was too far away from how I saw it in my head to leave it be. I could have done these edits later, but I felt the whole scene needed junking and rewriting to keep pace. I wrote 2,500 words in the end to replace the 1,500 I cut, to either way WHT got 1K longer.

Have a lot of small tasks to chip off at work today. I’m debating whether to rearrange my holiday again and take Friday off. I do not want to do that as I can’t spare too much from May or I wont get the break I need. I tend to book a day of leave on the opposite side of a bank holiday. That wat I get 4 day weekends, or 5 in Easter as that tends to include my birthday. I’d be sacraficing another of those if I pull holiday now. But I am running a little on empty, and geting a little worried about getting ill. Let’s say right now it’s not a great time right now to ‘look ill’,. Most people are sensible enough not to jump to conclusions, but I do not need that.

February 25th, 2020 – 517

I am not writing well at the moment. The last three or four days of WHT have been mediocre. I keep having to tell myself that it’s ok for the words to not come out perfect the first time. Heck even a rewrite isn’t supposed to nail the words. But the problem I have at the moment is the whole scene is off. I may have to redo the entire thing down the line, and that makes me feel like I’m wasting my days. I’m feeling a bit bettter afterwards when I get to work and have a bit more guranteed order. Even so, I can’t get this angst out of my mind, even when lost in work.

I did a bit more of Clockspinning after work yesterday, and that helped lift my mood, but I seem to be in a bit of a dip in general. That might be all this is, but I do not like waivering consistancy in quality. Yes it’s to be expected and yes I can catch it later, but it doesn’t make it feel any better. I try and put it out of mind by focusing on the tasks at work that I can do to a high standard because they have ridgid methods. There is a right way and a wrong way here, and it’s much easier to pick it out. Off work, my writing enters – at the moment at least – a grey area of uncertainty. 

I’m going to put it out of mind best I can for the rest of today, and lay off the Clockspinning too. Yes that’s rewarding to work on but I need to make sure I’m not burning myself out. I am far too tired for my current routine, where I am getting enough sleep, exercise and food. Something is going wrong and I need to figure out what it is. But while I can beat my head against this virtual brick wall for an age trying to figure it out, it won’t do any good. I’ll end up with a headache if I do it too much.

February 24th, 2020 – 516

You can do all the steps right and still fail. It’s one of the most important lessons you learn growing up. You can have a plan, do the prep, and check and recheck your work a thousand times. It does not gurantee success. When we interact with the world, several factors are beyond our control, but even those within can undermine us. Today for me is a day where a few of these have conspired to derail me. I left my headphones at home. I didn’t write first thing in the morning. I didn’t make my morning coffee right away. Things like the coffee are pure nice to haves – I do not need it to function. Headphones are getting into dangerous territory, but still ok. But if I don’t write right away, I can lose my footing. 

This is close to where I am right now. My head is a bit of a mess because I want to block out all noise in the office and only have cheap headphones and rainymood.com to do so. I like that site, but I have to put it at full volume to not have all thought drowned out without warning. And well, loud enough rain kinda, drowns out all thought. I would skip lunch and use that break right now to run and get them, but it is so dismal outside, and I now need my break to do my writing.

If I was smart this wouldn’t have happened. I kept yesterday’s post short because it was a long weekend and I needed to rest up to not be a ball of stress today. What I omitted to mention is that I got to bed a lot later than I should have on Saturday. I could have slept at 9:30, and I switched off at ten to one. I do this kind of petty thing when I ‘lose an evening’. I know what I have to do: refuse more invitations. Irony of ironies I am actually busy tonight at another invite, but I make the exception for RP. Then again, I made the exception Saturday because I hadn’t seen family in a long time, and Sunday was ‘moved-Saturday’. It’s like I used to be with finances: sure I can justify all these things. But when I have to justify all the things at once, the wheels come off.

I haven’t touched Clockstoppers since last Thursday. I do want to expand on the idea, and I have some more ideas of where I want that story to go too. The issue is having the energy to do it. I am taking a tem minute window at work to write this, and I have to use the rest of my break time to write today, so lunch is getting rushed. I can’t fit in more writing, and then I have evening plans where I’m not even supposed to focus on creativity. This isn’t burning the candle at both ends. I’m already doing that, this is cutting open the middle of the candle and exposing a few strands of wick to burn there too. Not only do you run out of candle faster but you risk burning the house down with it. 

I don’t have a suggestion to avert that. I don’t know how I’m going to find energy for tonight, let alone to write. Writing more on top of what I haven’t yet written? That is pushing my luck. But how can I ever make a success of this if I don’t push my luck, and burn myself to the ground for my work? That feels a bit immature when I put it like that. I have to get back to paid work for now, but I need an answer to this question. I need a better way of balancing adult commitments with writer commitments with social commitments with unplanned commitments and find a pinch of time for leisure in there too. Sometimes ‘wish me luck’ sounds so disingenious. Luck can’t invent a whole new model.

February 22nd, 2020 – 514

I do not like weekends. I keep trying to pretend that I do, but restful as they might be they’re such a slog. One day I want to rent a desk in an office on weekends and go do my 9-5 there. That sounds dumb, but I cannot stress how much structure matters to me. But that is a long way off, and I have to make the here and now work for me. I have an office at home; costs me a good £100+ in rent each month but it’s hard to put a price on things like this. A room that is for my work and to a lesser extent my gaming is a godsend even if it means I have to ration every penny of my salary otherwise.

So, this is frustrating, but my wordcount for the day doesn’t even need the wordcounting feature built into Google Docs. 26 words. That is after I had a shower where I would on a normal day start writing. That helped, but my head is so out of whack it only got me to ‘less screwy’ from ‘screwy’. Coffee is helping a bit. Loud metal music is giving me a small amount of catharsis, as is Two Steps From Hell. But that wordcount speaks for itself. Today is not going well. I don’t blame ‘Clockspinning’, but it’s telling I don’t want to work on that either. It might be a ‘put it in a drawer for a bit then expand it’ deal. Or I’ll write 10K of it tomorrow. Who knows?

WHT is my focus, and I need to get my head out of the chasm it’s stuck in. Stress is the culprit more than any kind of block. I don’t seem to get block anymore, or, I never did and it was always my weakness to stress. Kinda seems immaterial which it is when you’re stuck in the rut. A nail in your tyre is no worse than a tiny puncture if you can’t repair either. I’m trying to keep the air in but it’s not going great today. It’s funny in a way: I don’t hide this blog but everyone seems to think I’m doing fine. But then again it’s not like the point of this thing is to get readers.

I have to tough it out. This book won’t write itself, and yes I have made great progress on WHT in recent days, but it isn’t there yet. And there are so many more books to come, I can’t afford to slip. Call it hubris, but I don’t think I will slip either. This is a blip. It’s annoying, but it’s Saturday. After Thursday it might be one of my least favourite days of the week and for no reason other than lack of structure. I’ll figure it out. But until then, can I say one thing: Urrrrrrrrrrrrrrrghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…

February 21st, 2020 – 513

It’s strange how mental goalposts move. I wrote 1,600 words of Clockspinning after work yesterday, but I was too drained to do more. With WHT, that made a final word count for the day of 2,600 words, plus here and journal. So, why am I feeling underwhelmed? This, this right here is the problem with having a 10K day. This is the problem with saying I can write X amount of something else on top. I’m redefining ‘enough’ and that is a bad idea

So why am I so reitcent about that? Let’s take yesterday as a case study. It was still a big day, but I wrote a lot less than Wednesday. That was because I had a bad evening, like bad bad. It’s been a rough week for reasons I am not going to spill onto the internet in ink, but suffice to say I have bottled up a lot. That’s fine, we all do that, it’s what you do as an adult like it or not. But it cut 7,000 words off my “possible” target. That’s it, while I am doing this part time, 1K is doable, but I showed that ten times as much is also doable. And that is dangerous. 

When I was younger, burnout was my greatest weakness. I had a lot of other problems, some of which I still deal with if less intense ways. Burnout was one of those, and I do still have times I bow to it. When I was in my teens, I would go close to braindead if I pushed myself too hard. Doing that for a week could take me out for months. I’m not exaggerating, three or four months at least out of commission. I have better ways to deal with it now, but back then a week of 1K would trigger that. And you know where I’m going with this.

It took me out for less time, but I lost a month because of 1K+. That averaged 2,000 words each day, and it floored me. I’ve learned since then, and even when I write Clockspinning – which I do after main content – I tell myself 1K was enough. This is all extra. But I still feel like I should be doing more. I don’t have to though, and I have to tell myself that. But with that temptation, it’s hard to do that. Enoughism is not the easiest thing to balance with my obsessive mindset. But if I am to make this work, I need to square a web novel with 1K. But I enjoy Clockspinning, so I want to make this work.

February 20th, 2020 – 512

Keeping this one short as I do have a fair amount of work to get through today, but man, yesterday, where do I begin. So I chipped at my new story idea throughout the day. That much isn’t abnormal, but the amount I chipped off was. It’s no surprise that half term is quieter. So, I had a few more windows than usual in the gaps I needed between what meaty tasks I have. I then got home and after giving up on Magic Arena, wrote more. And, well, I wrote 8,800 words of this story. It’s already up, you can read it at clockspinning.wordpress.com.

That made yesterday a 10,000 word day. To have that happen without breaking a sweat, whilst still doing all my work and then tidying the flat to boot? I know a writer should always have the words, but I don’t. It’s like sprouting wings you only dreamed of until that moment. I could glide, but out of nowhere I flew. The words came with ease, even in the evening where they came much slower. So next chance I get, I want to do more. Clockspinning is a story I see growing in time; it might even match The Service to Ore series one day, and out-word it at this rate. To be clear, this is not set in the same universe/multiverse model. I want to explore other mechanics. I even think Clockspinners could grow into an RP system.

Oh, and yes, I did name it after the Magic card, and I am now so tempted to pick up a foil one. I mean apart from anything it’s a great card.