Corner Turning?

For the first time in a while, I have free time and the mental energy to create something.

Let’s not get carried away: it’s an afternoon (and parts of an evening), not a five-week vacation. But I will write a few words today if it kills me!

I also will push through at least one chapter revision. I’ve received my newest post-manuscript rejection, and it was… honest. As in brutal. “Not agent-ready.”

So yeah, I think I need to finish that editing pass, and probably do another one (if I can’t find the money to pay an editor.) All the while enduring that nagging feeling that my time would be better spent working on another manuscript.

In addition, I’m getting frustrated by the life-preventing-me-from-having-a-writing-career trap. It’s probably easier to write when you don’t have to hold a job, can pay an editor, and are famous enough to be able to deliver less-than-perfect manuscripts to your publisher (I’ve read ARCs by famous authors which were far less well-edited than my current manuscript.) But there’s nothing I can do about that except to keep rolling the dice.

In any case, I need to get back to work ­čÖé

Not So Weekly Update

Well, the last few weeks have been demanding. Not bad, but exhausting.

On the plus side, that’s in part because I’ve received a manuscript request (based on the revised-for-self-publication version of the manuscript) following a query I sent on a whim a few weeks ago. But that added some work (integrating my latest revisions, mainly) that I didn’t expect, I ended up spending even more time than I expected at work, and so on and so forth.

On the minus side, I was exhausted, which meant I basically focused most of my energy on the Let’s Play project. In other words, I’ve been messing around on EU4 way too much and not producing a lot of actually marketable content.

Let’s be honest: I’m going to allow myself to relax on the LP a bit more, then return to writing as my main “leisure time” activity afterward. But I really need to find the correct balance of work/play/be a dad/write, and right now I’m going the easy way of ignoring writing. I needed the break, but I want it to be a break, not the new normal.

 

Weekly Progress Report

Not much to report this week – lots of uninteresting work like editing, obviously done tasks like writing blog posts, and basic maintenance tasks like making sure there’s food in the fridge. In particular, writing new words has been difficult lately, so I’m focusing on everything else.

I’m starting to realize I really do need time alone, on a predictable basis, to manage to write. It takes me a while to get in the zone once I’m alone – I usually need to mess around for an hour, an hour and a half before I get in the right mindset to write. An hour and a half from my son’s bedtime would still leave me an hour or two to write every night, but I kind of want to talk to my girlfriend once in a while too.

That said, she’s going back to work in September, and I do have a day off during the week whereas she has a straight Monday-to-Friday job. Hopefully, that’ll give me some high-quality writing time.

Weekly Progress Report

Well, I’ve managed to get myself back into a working routine, at least, even if it’s not as efficient as I’d like. It just takes a poor night to knock off my productivity, and a heavier than expected social schedule hurt as well, but I did stuff. I re-edited the chapters I wanted to re-edit, reviewed and commented the cover artwork, managed to organize myself a bit better.

Heck, I even traded in my torture device of a computer chair for one actually suited for a human being.

So there’s been progress, although nowhere near as much as I’d like. which means I’m starting the next week with overdue tasks, which means I’ll be more likely to be overdue next week as well…

So let’s call this post done with. I want to at least get some writing in this week, and that means I need to do it ASAP.

 

The Great Fall Task List

All right, so what am I planning for the rest of the year?

1-Writing an average of 500 words a week on Book the Second. That’s not a lot, and I feel I should be able to do better than that, but let’s stick to something I’m sure I can do.

2-Get back on track for my blog schedule, my reading list, etc. I’m on track for the reading list, being almost done with Proust (and then the rest is just entertaining fiction or short.) For the blogs, I have thirty Secret Project blog posts ready to go (with more in the pipeline) so I should be able to make up for lost ground fairly easily.

3-Finish a thorough review-and-fix of Book the First and have it published online. My revisions are the main holdup, although I’m also waiting on a cover page suggestion.

4-Once I get my cover page, I’ll do the long-awaited switch-to-a-custom-look for this blog. At the same time, I’ll officially try to turn that into an “official” writing blog, complete with tip jar to beg for money and email to ask for writing jobs.

To get that to work, I’ve decided to rely on an computerized todo list – I’m using Todoist – so that I can manage my time efficiently. I still need to write down everything I need to do but at least I can do that once when I’m motivated, and then have the guilt to motivate me. We’ll see how this works out!

 

 

Summer Breaking

Well, it’s probably obvious, but my productivity has collapsed in the last few weeks. There’s no exciting explanation for it, it’s just fatigue.

So I’ve decided to allow myself a few weeks of, well, not vacation exactly, but lessened demands on my time. I’m still writing, I’m still working on getting Book the First published, I’m still working on the various projects… just without my usual impossible-to-complete task list.

So what have I accomplished lately? Well, I’m doing yet another editing pass on Book the First. I’m also working on getting someone to draw a cover image for it. I’ll probably also use said image as the basis for the visual theme of the blog, so there’s that.

As far as writing goes, I’m trying to get back in the habit of writing every day, even if it’s just a sentence or two. It’s frustrating – I’m just tired enough that getting started on writing is hard. Once I have the file open in front of me, I can keep going for a while, but getting that file open is tougher than it should be.

My various post series are… not progressing at the moment (although I’m slowly making my way through the first book of┬á├Ç la recherche du temps perdu,┬áso expect a Just my Opinion post at some point.

But overall, I’m just trying to return to healthier energy levels. And it’s working, just not as fast as I’d like.

Story of my life, I guess.

 

Goalposts Moving

Well, time to look back on my last, what, three weeks of enforced rest?

1-Didn’t do the writing. Doctor’s orders.

2-I did blog. I think..

3-Secret Project: OH SO MUCH PROGRESS. Since this is also my downtime activity, that enforced rest was a net positive there.

4-Finished the Bible for real this time.

5-I’ve begun looking at the site stuff. I have a pretty good idea on what I need to get started, but that’s on hold for now.

6-Housework done.

Right, so in other words I just didn’t write Book the Second. It’s a failure by my standards, but an honest failure in this case.

Going forward, I’ll stick with easier goals for the next few weeks. Say 400 words and focus on getting Book the First in e-publication form for this week, since at this point I can pretty much call my remaining queries stale.

 

Software Medley

Writing doesn’t require all that much in terms of software. Realistically, Notepad isn’t going to cut it if you want an industry-standard manuscript, but you really don’t need anything beyond a word processor to become a wannabe novelist.

Except I’m the kind of guy who really likes to use tools to improve his lot. So, just in case you were wondering what kind of software to get, here are some of my picks:

1-OpenOffice:

It’s an open source alternative to Microsoft Office, and it works just as well as long as you don’t need Powerpoint. As a bonus, it uses the old menus-and-toolbars instead of the ribbon interface. And with a price tag of “Free”, it’s ideal for the starving writer.

Obviously, the main draw for me is Writer, the word processor. But Calc does a pretty good Excel impression too, and Draw can do a decent job at graphical planning if you’re so inclined.

2-WikidPad:

My newest toy. It’s a tool to organise information in wiki form. It’s local-system based, not online, which is obviously a plus for a laptop user like me. But the real reason I like it is because it’s simple yet powerful enough for my needs. It took me about three minutes and five lines of tutorial text to figure out the basics I needed, and four more minutes to master the rest of the options I needed.

If your writing projects requires a tech bible, you’re probably going to love this little gem.

3-F.lux:

As I may have mentionned once or twice, I have a young son. Which means writing time is at night, and it competes with sleep time.

Which is a problem, because computer screens are great at emitting sleep-impeding blue light. So I lose maybe half an hour every day because it takes me a while to go to sleep after I stop writing.

Aparently, F.lux can help with that. It adjust the colors of my monitor at night to reduce the amount of blue light it emits. Which should help me go to sleep faster (and hopefully improve my sleep quality.)

I’ve just started using it, so we’ll see how well it works.

Well, that’s the basic tools I use. I also rely a lot on Google and on a few online ressources, which I’ll share the next time I’m looking for a post subject.

 

Weekly Report: An Uninterrupted Stream of Victories

2 in 2! 2 in 2!

 

1-The AMAZING 600 WORDS CHALLENGE. Pfah. Easy peasy. Success.

2-Tech Bible: Done. Oh wait, did I delete the file? Right, yes I did oh wait what’s that other file OH NO TOTAL FAIL.

(Seriously, though, I just noticed another file of notes. Nothing problematic and it’s all probably in the official Bible already but still, it’s a fail.

3-Notes on e-publishing: still on the back burner. FAIL.

4-Finish the paid writing project. Sent, and paid. SUCCESS.

5-Secret Project Blog: No way to prove it, but it’s done. Plus extras. SUCCESS.

6-A Dad and a Writer: obviously a SUCCESS.

So I met my passing grade (and probably would have gotten five out of six if it wasn’t for that surprise file of notes.)

Goals for next week:

1-Another 600 words. I really should try to ramp up that number, but last week had a bunch of unpleasant surprises and I’m tired.

2-An extra blog post. It can be anything.

3-Prep a third Secret Project blog.

4-Finish the Bible for real this time.

5-Start work on personalizing my site theme. This has run on the default for long enough.

6-Not a blog/content/writing goal, but at this point it needs to be done: clear the last of the housework deficit I’ve been dealing with for close to four weeks now. It’s not that bad, but there’s a lot of low-priority tasks that have been nagging me for weeks now, and it’s killing my concentration. At a ┬áminimum I need to get my office back in some semblance of order.

Passing grade is 4/6, including the 600 words, but also the Bible and the housework. Let’s get as close to a clean slate as we can.

A Dad and a Writer: Month 10

I went back to work this month. Paternity leave was great, but it’s unfortunately not infinite. But I’m thankful for the rest, especially considering that the month turned out to be very, very busy with uninteresting stuff.

That said, I’ve tried to keep to a stricter schedule this month, and it helped with writing. In a way, being at work helps, because it gives structure to my day. Admittedly, the structure is “wake up, help with baby, go to work, return home, help with baby, work on writing/projects for an hour, collapse in bed”, but it’s actually more productive than “wake, do random stuff, go to bed.”

Honestly, by this point, if all I did was write a novel, I’d be able to progress at a slow, but satisfying rate. Having a 9-going-on-10 months old baby is not actually that much of an impediment to writing. Taking care of a three-months-old baby is mentally draining in a way an older kid isn’t: you’re constantly stressing out over everything, and you can’t see an end to it. By contrast, by now my son can communicate if something’s not well, he makes constant progress, and he can play by himself (with supervision, but still.)

And… he’s starting daycare. Which means my girlfriend will finally have some time off, which means she’ll eventually be able to help with household chores, which means *I’ll* be less tired… (plus, I usually have a day off during the week, so I’ll actually have one glorious day a week to write uninterrupted.

But even if I didn’t…. for the first time in nearly a year, I’m convinced I’ll be able to write regularly for the foreseeable future. Not as much as I’d want, and I suspect I’ll get frustrated by all the weekly days off I can’t manage to turn into full days of writing, but having a second manuscript finished no longer seems impossible.