August 21st, 2020 – 695

Sorry about my cryptic post yesterday. The scene in WAN I was working on is as I said, likely the worst thing I’ll ever write, and combined with a long and quite stressful work day – though today matched that with ease – and a series of terrible nights sleep, I kind of broke a bit. I am more or less alright now, but it served as a potent reminder of how strained I am at the moment, and the need to get away from the darker aspects of life more. Why I chose to write my darkest book in the middle of a global pandemic and when my mental health was far from a solid wall I will never understand, but if nothing else, it kinda proves I’m darn resilient now. A heck of a lot tougher than I used to be.

On a lighter note, when I finish today’s post I’m going to wrap up my work for the week – some urgent last minute requests mean I’m working into Saturday but it’s the time of year where that’s kind of normal – and then I’m going to do my daily row. Once done, I will have chained 10 days in a row of, well, rowing. It’s nothing spectacular yet; I only do 5 minute rows and I only do one a day right now. That’s a deliberate choice, as where a lot of people will try and ‘power through’ from the start so that a ‘habit’ will become easier, I know better. I know cementing the habit is far more important than breaking through any barrier at the start. Once I can trust my brain to go row on autopilot, I’m more free to up the ante and aim for an hour 2 out of every 3 days, maybe even 3 out of 4.

Having plans, roadmaps, short and long term goals, this is all helping. Having a job that seems to want to hold on to me is a help too, hence why working for free over the weekend isn’t that much of a big deal for me. They say when you work doing what you love it doesn’t feel like work; that’s, not true at all but I’m lucky enough to have a job, and extra lucky that I enjoy that role, so going above and beyond to preserve that is the least I can do. Don’t worry, I will take time to relax too, but as plonking myself in the office every day is becoming a ritual anyway, chipping off a few tasks and spreading the workload is helping me keep on top of the queue without feeling like I’m forcing myself to do it. If I’m sitting here anyway why not.

But I am getting a lie in tomorrow. I don’t have a clue why but even with 8 hours + every night I feel as if I haven’t slept, even without the damn heatwave. Still, could be worse. Could be another heatwave. That is not an invitation for there to be another heatwave.

August 20th, 2020 – 694

I just took a break to hit target. I’m feeling, pretty horrible right now. Pretty sure what I just wrote is the most horrible thing I’ll ever write in my life. I can’t hear properly, the world’s gone eerily silent, and I feel cold. I don’t know if I’m being melodramatic or if I just, broke.

I hate this book…

August 19th, 2020 – 693

The good news is I wrote earlier than yesterday. The bad news is it was only by about 32 minutes, and I’m feeling like a mess right now. My mood is in a grim place. I think it’s my stomach, and while I’ve eaten well today and not overeaten, I think my digestion is having a minor malfunction. Mood and digestion are not far off being one and the same thing after all.

I might just be tired, but I’ve been sleeping a lot better of late so that doesn’t quite add up. I’ve also been feeling dizzy and queasy in a way I often get with lack of sleep, so there is a chance I slept far worse than I thought last night. If that’s the case then I can’t imagine I’ll sleep any better today. It’s a tough one to figure out.

I’m going to get an early night and hope for the best. Don’t know what’s up with my head but I’m quite happy with going unconscious for a while until it starts to behave again.

August 18th, 2020 – 692

So one slip back to the evening isn’t too bad, but I hope this is a blip rather than the start of a slip. I hit target at 20:23, had a row and just journalled, so even though I will likely hit post after 9pm, this is still within my soft 50-50 range. For the record it goes:

Pre-9am: How the actual hell did you manage that?

Pre-10am: Nice, perfect spot, full day ahead to focus on, can be present and enjoy the moment.

Pre-12pm: AM target is still morning target, and it lets me have an afternoon likely of at least one big task and a couple small ones, decent.

Pre-5pm: My boundary between ‘work time’ and ‘leisure time’ remains in tact, though I likely had writing looming over my work day – includes weekends – which will have made me less productive. Even so, those days happen.

Pre-8pm: Problematic but I can still begin to wind down for the day without too much risk of being up at 2am with a mind still ablaze because I didn’t switch it off in time. (Note, mind will sometimes be a pain in the butt and not switch off in time even if I write target before 9am. Thanks brain, you doofus.)

Pre-9pm: Ok odds that this is the start of a slide into the abyss are even at this point. I have managed to get away with blips like this and been fine plenty of times, but I’ve also followed many a 8:30pm target with a 1:30am one. Got to be careful.

Pre-11pm: You tried. Well actually odds are you might not have and that’s why we’re in this mess. Yes it doesn’t matter when I hit target but this means less sleep, which means likelyhood of a second 11pm target goes up.

Pre-2am: Kill me… I feel like death and the words are done but at what terrible, terrible cost…

Between 5am and 8am: Either it was just polling day, or I am in a full fledged spiral. Both testament to my ongoing commitment no matter what to have a thousand words for each day, and indicative that this could one day kill me. Yay! Not, yay to death, yay to the other thing, though I likely feel like death.

So yeah, this is fine.

Sorry for all the italics…

Oh! Also 7 days in a row of 5 minutes rowing minimum! Actual yay!

August 17th, 2020 – 691

Aside from my full awareness that I’m sitting in my home office rather than around colleagues at a dedicated work desk, this is starting to feel like a bygone era of work I know now only as ‘February’. I have routine, order, and yes I have an email backlog that rivals any one of my novels in wordcount, I’ve tackled the meaty tasks and broken down those not yet done into manageable chunks. I think another listen/work through ‘Getting Things Done‘ is in order when I have the mental energy to digest it, perhaps on the August bank holiday. A day which I totally forgot about and means I get paid next Friday! Woo!

There is a good chance that when I resume WAN tomorrow, that I’ll write the <1,200 words needed to hit 80K. I don’t know how I feel about that. Relief I guess is the big mood, but ashamed is up there. I will be more than glad to have WAN behind me and not look at it again for at least a year, but it’s not as if I feel all sunshine and rainbows about that; I’ll still have to edit it, and then decide if I ever let it see the light of day. As far as next projects go, I’m thinking I will jump into The Whispering Rail as I’d rather keep up the pace I’ve got and finish writing the series with time to spare. While WAN-aside I love this series, it’s written more for myself than anyone, and I want to get into writing publishable novels after that. With that much experience of the process under my belt after 14 books, I might even be able to write something half decent.

I am so glad the weather turned down from its former scorched Earth policy. I’m still not sleeping great, but it’s getting more manageable. Keeping up these early targets is the way to go, and though it’s taking a while, I’m starting to feel like my old self for the first time in, well five months exactly now I look at the calendar. Better late than never.

August 16th, 2020 – 690

In my defense, this time it was intentional. I woke up late, had about an hour and a half between being lucid and needing to head out, and I focused that on hitting target/journalling. I needed to, because too many times now I’ve been in a position where I could write before a fixed event, and went ‘nah I’ll do it later’. Later means 1am, cut it out. No really, I’ll get home, knackered, go ‘let me find some energy and I’ll go write’ – BOOM, gone midnight and I want to rip my eyeballs out.

So, ahem, I didn’t do that. I wrote, journalled, and left blogging and my daily row for later. I did the latter as I got in and now I’m writing one of the more meta blog posts I’ve ever done. And this whole blog is a mess of meta so that’s saying something. But hey, was a good day, got my fortnightly foodshop to about £25 so that’s sweet, and now I think imma pass out any second. I call that a complete breakfast.

What the heck am I talking about…

August 15th, 2020 – 689

I forgot to blog. Oops. Well I forgot for a while, I’ve remembered in time at least. I wrote in the morning so that’s all good, and then spent the rest of the day playing Magic and Stardew and Civ VI. A relaxed day but a productive one too. WAN is at 75K and I’m on track for my deadline.

And it’s still too hot…

August 14th, 2020 – 688

Oh my god the world isn’t melting anymore! Well, heat wise; the world is still metaphorically on fire but at least I won’t need a fan on all night just to get less than 8 hours sleep. Even so, by brain is so sluggish right now. I won’t go on for too long on here because I need to use what’s left of my mental functionality to get my work for the day done. For starters then, as you might guess, I managed an early morning target again, so my grim prediction that I’d be back to PM targets by the end of the week both came prematurely true, and then reverted to a better place. I am of course now going to have to maintain this at the weekend, but for once I am a smidge more confident there. After all, I go into ‘work’ every day now; I just only check emails at this desk on weekdays.

I want to get out and walk around a bit more than I have been. My toe is still not looking fantastic, but by now I feel it’s as recovered as it’s going to get in the short term, so it is time to start pushing that a bit. I have also started marking off on my calendar each day if I completed at least one row. I’m only tracking in ones, so despite doing two yesterday, only one glyph appears for the 13th. By the way, ‘glyph’, easily one of my favourite words. The logic behind this approach has its foundations in 1K, and one of the core tenants of the model in the form of ‘minimum is enough’. There’s no reason not to do more, but I only have to do one. This is important, as when I take it up a notch and do perhaps hours of rowing in a day at some point, I will still need to do 5 minutes on a rest day. That shouldn’t push me too much.

Coffee is starting to re-establish itself in my routine, but there is one major shift I need to make: I need to drink more of it for leisure. I like coffee, not only for the effect and the ease it give me in completing target, but also because of the taste, the smell, and as nerdy as this will sound, the aesthetics of a black coffee in a black mug. It has become one of my happy-place images, and I have little doubt that my general mood will improve the more of it I drink. It’s been a while since I chained 2+cups-a-day days, but there’s no reason I cannot return to that. Even though I’ve since decided drinking a coffee long past 5pm is fine for utility however, I will try to keep leisure coffee to pre-5pm, if only to encourage me to drink more water in the evenings.

Life is still weird, and I’m sure it is for all of you imaginary readers too. Having a project to focus on helps, even if in my case it has done, a fair bit of damage to my already fragile mental health to work on WAN. Still, 12 days, in 12 days time, I will have a first draft, I can stick it in a drawer, and forget it exists for a long, long time. For now, I’m going to get back to a few new queries that arrived in my inbox over the last few days, and focus on what I hope will be a restful – AND COLD – weekend. Stay frosty everyone.

August 13th, 2020 – 687

A 10:10am start to writing my blog post for the day. The last time I managed that might have been moving day back home, which was about a month ago now. I think? I honestly haven’t got much concept of time, which is one of the reasons this blog, my daily journal and my BuJo are so helpful: everything in perspective. I’m writing this at my workstation and may need to take extended breaks as we have calls incoming for A Level and Level 3 results day queries. Got to be a strange day for all those students, and I do feel bad for those who can’t meet and celebrate their results with their teachers today. I hope the students are all doing ok.

I decided between calls and as I set up my own script for each subsequent call that I may as well try and knock out target, and writing it on autopilot seems to have made WAN an easier story to churn out. I’m not so sure the latter chapters can be done in such an autonomous way, but hey I may as well try. The less I have to think about this horrid book the better. I’m also thinking after work today I might start the slow process of chipping TUS into publishable shape, and reuploading the chapters to WattPad. That is assuming I have the energy to do so, which leads onto sleep…

So I cannot sleep right now in this heatwave. I go to bed at 10pm, and past midnight I am no more asleep than I am right now, mind even racing a bit. Last night the anxiety about fielding calls whilst tired might have created a negative feedback loop, but this did also happen on Tuesday night too. The fan is too loud to sleep through, earplugs keep me up and to be honest my ears aren’t doing too great anyway – probably need syringing when this is over – and most of all, it’s too damn hot. Even with the brief rain yesterday. So today I am groggy and drained. I can function, but it’s not a happy existence. Please, please, please let this heatwave pass soon…

August 12th, 2020 – 686

I hit target at midday today on my break, and journalled right afterwards, but wanted to get back to churning through emails so left this entry until a bit later. It is now ‘a bit later’ and can I just say would it be such a bad thing if we blew up the sun? No really, wiping all life on Earth out is one thing, but it would also be a lot cooler. Heat and lethargy are such unfortunate bedfellows, and speaking of it is close to impossible for me to sleep well in this weather. What is the point of living in the UK if it’s not going to be cold and miserable all the time? That’s its USP for me. Am I going to have to move to Canada? I mean, to be fair Canada looks awesome so I’m not opposed to that…

…Says the guy who has said time and again he’ll never move out of Eastbourne, so take that with a grain of salt. I like having a G&T or some bourbon or rum or a beer in the evening depending on my mood, but at the moment that’s impractical, as it only adds to the heat induced nausea. What also adds to that is rowing, and I found out today that I should be doing 22-24 at most rows a minute right now. I’ve been doing 31 consistently since I got the machine, so perhaps I need to slow down a tad. Not sure, and I doubt I’ll be any better for wear with the change.

Do you notice how I’m not talking about The Wanderer? Let me continue that trend: I’m looking at my net story plans and what I would love to do is spend some time refining TUS, VOL and WHT so that they stand some kind of chance in the Wattys. At the same time I feel awkward not doing my 1K of main story each day, and doing both that and intense edits is going to lead to ‘1K+’-style burnout. It’ll been a year since that failed experiment by then, and I don’t know about you, but I consider that level of debilitating illness in early September of 2020 to be ‘not a good look right now’, so I’d rather avoid a repeat performance. It needs to be done though. Those stories are ok, but they could be great.

Think Imma go lie down and play some Stardew before trying for an early night. Or you know just melting, as is all but inevitable. Oh, and the more or less daily ‘why am I not submitting work to agents’/’why am I not writing more short stories for contests’ existential dread that’s getting a lot stronger than it used to be. I need some serious help there…