Posts Tagged ‘writing’

So Far, So Good

Howdy, squiders. I’ve had an interesting week–had a close contact test positive over the weekend (no worries, they’re doing fine) and so decided that it was best to get tested myself, just in case. (Just got my results back, and I don’t have it.) But, of course, you’re not supposed to interact with anyone while you’re waiting on results, so my week has mostly consisted of checking to see if I had results yet, and then wondering what to do with myself.

Couldn’t really plan, you know? I did the test Monday morning and called my boss mid-day-ish to double check policy and let him know that I probably wouldn’t be in on Tuesday, and I used Tuesday to get a fair amount of writing done.

But then I didn’t get my results Tuesday night, or early this morning. So I had to call my boss again and deal with the fact that I hadn’t known if I was going to go into work or not and so had not planned my day.

In retrospect, I should have planned both ways, and then I could have just executed whichever plan was necessary. Next time.

Anyway, I have my results now, and so we’re back to normal.

I realize we’re not even halfway into January yet, but I’m feeling really good. I’ve made decent progress on the draft of the school horror story I was working on for Nano. I’m up to the second plot point, so we’ve just got to go through the dark moment and the climax (which hopefully will be fun!) and then I’m done with that and can switch over to revising Book 1, which is my main goal for the year.

I’ve already read three books for the year (including one of my TBR) so that’s going pretty well too, and I’ve done some drawing and watched some videos on gouache, which is a new paint type that I got for Christmas and need to try out.

Fingers crossed that this momentum will last. I could really use a good year creatively.

How are things going for you guys? Making good progress?

Okay, Let’s Get on the 2022 Train

Okay, okay. We’re three days away from 2022, so I guess we should act like it.

(On a side note, I’ve checked out a laptop at the library, which, on one hand feels very neat, but on the other hand, kind of makes me anxious about logging into stuff on a shared computer. My understanding is that they reset between people, but eeeeeeee all the same.)

(Will just have to log out of everything ever.)

My pondering about goals over the past few days has mostly followed the train of thought that I have spent a LOT of time procrastinating over the past two years–no spoons to be had–and how to fix that instead of getting sucked into time sinks for hours on end.

I’ve two main time sinks: Discord and YouTube.

I’ve been on Discord for years but never used it terribly regularly until about a year ago. That’s when I joined my Among Us server. I still was spotty for a bit, until the tournaments started up. Even now, when everyone’s back at work/school, I still spend a fair amount of time there even though it is less active. The biggest issue is first thing in the morning. A lot of the people are in Europe/the UK, which means it’s their afternoon in my morning, which is when they’re active. So I tend to stop by in the morning to say hi/catch up on stuff that happened while I was asleep, and then, since that’s when it’s most active, I get sucked into whatever’s happening or I hang out and ditz around seeing if something is going to happen.

On one hand, socialization is good for me and I do truly like the people in that server. On the other hand, stopping by in the mornings derails me first thing, which makes it hard to switch into a productive frame of mind later on in the day.

The YouTube issue goes a bit like this: I have a couple of channels that I subscribe to that put out regular content on a weekly basis. So I’ll go on to watch that week’s episode, and since I listen best when doing something with my hands, I’ll play my coloring game on my phone while the episode is going. (Plus it makes it feel like I’m not just wasting time watching YT.) My episode will end, but I won’t be done with my picture, so I’ll go on to a different video. I’ll finish my picture, but the video’s not over, so I start a new one. And eventually I run out of subscription videos and will move into random stuff, ad nauseum. And even if the picture/video end at the same time, it’s still hard to break out of that and move on to something else.

I think the solution here has got to be to limit my time.

I don’t necessarily want to miss out talking to my friends on Discord, but I’ve noticed that if I check it on my phone rather than my computer, it’s harder to engage (i.e., type) so it’s easier for me to move on to something else. I think I can do a morning check-in on the phone and then move on to more productive things while still making times for special events that may happen occasionally. And for YouTube, I think I’ve got to do one video at a time and then cut it off. It’s too easy to get into that “One more, oh, one more, okay, one more” mentality otherwise.

And, I think, if I’m not at work, I’ve got to set a time (say, 10 am) where I get off my desktop and do something else, no matter what, whether that’s a chore around the house, or walking the dog, or going to a coffee shop. Forcing myself to move should help me get out of a Discord/YouTube rut even if I’ve fallen into one.

(The other thing I’ve noticed is that I’ll sit down at the desktop to work, get distracted, and then stay there even when I realize I’ve been sucked into a time sink, because maybe in five minutes I’ll stop messing around and work, but that point never comes.)

Identifying the problem is the first step to fixing it, as they say. So we’ll see how this goes.

As for finite goals, my hope is that if I can convert even a third of my current procrastination time into productive time, I can get close to my pre-pandemic levels of productivity. Getting Book 1 ready for submission is my top goal, followed by finishing my novella for TDP, editing/revising my scifi horror novella and my cozy mystery, and getting out a couple more SkillShare classes (with less fixing needed next time. May need to invest in a better microphone). I should also finish my serial (part 3 will be out on Saturday) early-ish in the year and I can put that out as a novella as well. Hopefully more than that will get done, but it feels like a good starting place.

Non-writing wise, 50 books like normal, with the added stipulation each month that one book is from a TBR list, and one book is off my shelf at home. I’ve been reading a LOT of library books, but meanwhile everything else just grows.

And I am going to try out that video game goal I was thinking about. A new game each month or, if I haven’t beaten the previous month’s game yet, at least 5 hours of gameplay. I shall have to ponder what I want to play first. I have 60 or so Steam games and I’ve only beaten like 10 of them. (And I bought a new one a few days ago. Whoops.)

I have a bad habit of playing the games I’m least interested in first (saving the best for last, I guess?) which works when eating your dinner but is a silly way to game, so I’ve got to overcome that too.

Anyway, squiders, do you have goals for the new years?

WriYe and the Year’s End

It’s that time of month again. And that time of year. Madness.

Also, I talked about this over at Turtleduck Press earlier this week, but does anyone else feel like 2021 is a liminal year? Like, that it doesn’t really exist. It’s just a continuation of 2020, and it’s near impossible to remember what happened this year vs. last year.

Anyway.

I haven’t been terribly active over at WriYe this year, and I don’t think I’ll hit my word count goal, which I think was 120K. I’m hovering around 90K for the year, but I also stopped tracking some months ago, so. I actually have no idea. Oh well.

That being said, let’s get on to the prompts for this year.

2021 is almost over. Sum up your year of writing. Did you meet your goals?

What even were my goals? One second.

Oh, right. I picked the word Polish for my word for the year, and then, aside from poking at Book 1 for a few months, did nothing with it. Bad show, Kit.

Story-wise, I dragged my Changeling story out to about 70K words and then decided it was awful and stuck it in a drawer. I DID manage to finish my draft of World’s Edge. And I’ve got 31K on my Nano story which–having read over it earlier this week–has definite issues but is salvageable.

I revised nothing, alas.

I sent out a handful of picture book queries and then did nothing to follow up on that, such as sending more queries out to other agents.

I did create two SkillShare classes, though the second one continues to be in audio-editing limbo. Fingers crossed that gets done tomorrow.

So, did I meet my goals? I give me a C.

Give us your biggest triumph and what you are most proud of!

In the great scheme of Accomplishing, I didn’t accomplish much. I mean, there was the writing, which has been, well. I think I’ve talked about how I feel like what I’m coming up with recently is just…not interesting. Or maybe I just talked to the TDP folks about that. (I’ve got to remember that so much of the good stuff comes out in revision, and all a first draft has to do is exist.)

I did put out a short story collection in…May? That’s kind of a big deal, I guess.

And this last SkillShare class, the one that I’m having issues with the audio one–I was so proud of it! It’s a workshop and I think it has a lot of good information in it, but everything’s gotten kind of bogged down with trying to get it fixed, and my enthusiasm has dulled.

I think…I think for 2022 I’ve really got to sit down, look at what I want to accomplish, make realistic goals, and figure out ways to actually focus instead of the weird procrastination stuff I’ve been doing for the last two years.

That’s for a few weeks from now, though. Or next week.

Hope your December is going well, squiders!

Into December

Man, this once a week schedule is just not doing it for me. I may have to go back to twice a week for my own sanity, or just take a break til 2022. I shall ponder.

Nano went, well. We’ve talked about that. I ended with about 31000 words (I spent the 29th writing 2.5K on my serial story over at TDP instead of doing Nano, which went so much better. Man, no one is kidding when they talk about sloggy middles.) which is fine. I mean, not great, it never feels good to not reach a goal you set for yourself, but I think it’s 31K of solid words.

My plan here is to read back through the story (I normally have to do that sometime in Act 2 Part 2 anyway, because it helps me keep the entire structure of the story in my head as I map out the end of the story) and then get back to it. I’d like to say that I’m going to finish it this month, but I know how December goes.

Ah, December. Some years I get so anxious about setting up and getting into work for the next year that the month gets lost. I don’t feel that this year. Maybe because it’s still early in the month, but mostly I’m just concerned with trying to finish things up.

Got a lot to do otherwise, of course. Presents to buy/wrap, plans to make, movies to watch. There’s non-writing projects that need doing. All that jazz.

And re-evaluation to be done. These last two years have not gone well, from a creative standpoint. Things that were working before health issues and the pandemic messed everything up are obviously no longer working. I need to sit and think about my goals and how to best achieve them. Focus things down a bit, probably.

Also, I lost my grandmother last week, and that’s throwing everything off. I need to spend some time on that as well.

Anyway, as the year winds down, I hope you are doing well and that you’re in a good frame of mind. I’ll (hopefully) see you next week.

Preparing to Lose

Well, squiders, how’s your November going? Mine’s a cluster, but it’s fine. I’m fine. Everything is fine.

There are five days left in November. In those five days (including today), in order to get to 50K, I need to write 19.4K words. That’s approximately 3.9K words a day. In theory doable, especially if one doesn’t have a lot of other obligations.

Alas, I have other obligations.

It feels weird to be so far behind (about 11K words as of this writing). I’ve written every day this month except the 3rd. Which is waaaaay more consistent than I generally am during Nano. I had hopes that I would be able to do some major catch-up this week while I and the small, mobile ones were on Thanksgiving Break, but apparently that was a strange fantasy I made up in my brain.

Thanksgiving is always stressful. We host my spouse’s family, and he gets all perfectionist about the state of the house and finishing projects that have otherwise been languishing. So Wednesday and yesterday were useless. I knew yesterday was going to be, but for some reason I forgot about Wednesday. I should know about Wednesday by now.

ANYWAY, despite excellent consistency, it is time to admit that unless I am willing to do nothing else but write until Wednesday, I am going to lose Nanowrimo.

And I do not have the luxury of doing nothing but writing until Wednesday.

I mean, I suppose I could do what I did a few years ago, and rent out a hotel room for one night (I got 9K in that night) and then I might be good to go! But unless a lot of people get really cool about a lot of things real fast, it’s unlikely.

It’s okay. I’m not even upset. Things happen, and I have 30K on a story that I wouldn’t have otherwise.

And it’s not the first time I’ve lost. Sure, yes, normally things go downhill considerably faster (I think the last time I lost, which was, oh, 2012, maybe? I only got 12 or 14K words for the month) but it’s not the end of the world. And I’d much rather have a story I can do something with instead of throwing together a mess.

Anyway, it’s not looking good, and that’s fine.

How are your months going, squiders?

This is Not Going Well

Oy vey, squiders.

It’s what, the 11th? So, for Nano, I’m probably supposed to be at, oh, 18,300 words or some such. I’m at 11,400-ish. Almost seven thousand words behind and slowly slipping, day by day.

It’s not from lack of trying. I’ve been writing almost every day, which is more than I normally do during Nano. I’m just…not getting enough words. And not because the story’s going poorly. I switched to third person, like I told you last week, and everything’s been going great since then. The story is flowing well, the plot points are being hit appropriately, I’m having fun.

I just don’t have enough writing time.

I mean, I haven’t written today (Thursday, though this will go live on Friday) because I had to paint my entire basement, which took about four hours, but in general I’m eking out about an hour, hour and a half a day. Which is enough to get somewhere between 1200 and 1700 words with how fast I write. Which is good words! But not enough to catch up.

Now, seven thousand words seems like a lot of missing words. I could, understandably, throw my hands up and throw in the towel.

But I don’t actually feel bad about it. It feels fixable. I mean, not if the slide continues, but I’m still optimistic. Not even cautiously optimistic, just optimistic.

And potentially insane, I guess.

There’s Thanksgiving break coming up in about a week. Now, this could be very hit or miss. No work for me that week, so if I can properly entertain the small, mobile ones, maybe I could do a couple days of 3-5K words, which would be a good way to catch up or potentially get ahead. Or, depending on life, the small, mobile ones will require lots of attention and nothing will get done.

Maybe if I take them somewhere and wear them out in the morning, then I could write in the afternoon? Things to ponder.

Anyway, tl;dr, wildly behind on Nano but having fun nevertheless.

In other news, I re-recorded the video that needed fixing for SkillShare (took forever to find time to do that, which is why I didn’t get all my words yesterday) so I just need to edit that and re-upload it, and hopefully we shall be back in business.

Tomorrow (today? Friday) isn’t looking good for doing anything though–meetings out the wazoo. Hooray.

Anyway, how are you doing, squider? How are your goals for the month going?

Realistic Fantasy Travel

As promised, here are my notes from the MileHiCon panel that ended up just being about horses rather than realistic fantasy travel in general. I have notes on three different areas: horses (ubiquitous in almost all forms of fantasy, since people need a way to get places that’s not walking, and horses are easy), boats (specifically tall ship-style boats), and trains (for your steampunk and related needs).

These are mostly stats, kind of as a way to be like “Here’s how these things work, and if you’re having them work differently you’d better have a dang good reason.” The biggest issue, we all agreed in the panel, was that people tend to treat horses like cars, i.e., something that can keep going and going as needed as opposed to living animals that have thresholds and needs. (There was also a large side tangent about whether or not horses needed to be treated as characters, with half the panel saying yes, horses are characters and the other half saying it depended on the story and the horse.)

(I am in the depends on the context camp.)

Anyway! Here are your horse stats. This is your average horse that is not specifically trained for long-distance trips in most cases.

Horses:

  • Can travel between 25 and 100 miles a day, based on fitness levels/training
  • But if traveling for weeks you want to do 20-30 miles a day so you don’t wear the horse out (walk or trot)
  • A horse that is not used to endurance travel is not going to be able to do it
  • Harder terrain obviously diminishes the distance that can be traveled
  • Can only gallop for about 2 miles (canter for up to 5)
  • Should stop being ridden at age 20-25
  • Many horses cannot carry two people (need big, strong, calm horse)
  • Most horses have a max carrying weight of about 250 lbs (rider(s) + gear)
  • Takes about 2 years to competently learn to ride a horse, assuming one lesson a week
  • Takes an average horse about 5 hours to go 20 miles (horses walk about 4-5 miles an hour)

Now, on to boats. Now, you may be asking, why did I do research on other modes of transportation when the panel was specifically about horses in fantasy? Well, because I thought we were focusing on the “realistic travel” part of the description and not the horse part. So I thought it would be worth it to be prepared to talk about other transportation if they came up, and I picked boats and trains since those seem to be the next most popular modes that come up regularly.

Not to say there are not other modes of fantasy travel, because there absolutely are. I was trying to avoid more fantastic modes, however, since I’m not going to be able to tell you the average airborne velocity of a dragon or anything like that.

My stats for boats are, as I said above, for tall ships. Think 2-4 mast ships that are generally ocean-going.

Boats:

  • A tall ship travels about 7 miles per hour (6 knots)
  • Older ships may be more like 4 mph
  • Wind direction is important (tail wind vs head wind)
  • A sailing ship is going to average somewhere between 60 and 100 miles a day (also depends on if sailing overnight or not)

I got progressively lazier from this point on.

Trains:

  • Depending on year, in 1804 they ran about 10 mph, in 1850 they ran up to 75 mph (in England)

Trains, of course, can now run up to a couple hundred mph, but I was focused on steam-powered locomotives, since that seems to be the most applicable.

And, finally:

Walking:

  • A person can walk 20-30 miles per day (if trained)

(More 10-15 miles if untrained, and then you also need to think about things like footwear and other things that may make things harder.)

Thoughts, squiders? Favorite form of fantasy travel, realistic or not? Thoughts on horses, cuz why not?

WriYe and Planning

The last month has been so off-kilter that I didn’t even do the WriYe blog prompt in September. So, uh, here it is. Actually, it kind of goes along with the outlining workshop I’ve been working on for SkillShare.

Convenient.

Explain your planning process. Do you write a detailed outline or are you more of a bare bones only writer?

I’ve talked about my outlining process before, but I’m somewhere in the middle. What I find works best for me is outlining my major plot points at the beginning (basically inciting incident, first plot point, midpoint, second plot point, climax, and what comes in between/before/after those). Pacing is something I have issues with when left to my own devices, so keeping track of my turning points and when in the story those should be happening has been hugely beneficial for me.

I also do quite a bit of brainstorming at the beginning for worldbuilding/characters/plot ideas, and I tend to phase outline in between plot points. But I don’t need a lot of detail in my plan before I start writing.

Are you happy with the way you plan currently?

Yes, actually. I first outlined this way for City of Hope and Ruin–it was the way Siri outlined–and it worked so well that I have used it for almost every longer story since. I’m talking 10K and up; for short stories I tend to just phase outline, though sometimes I’ll also do tentpoles depending on complexity.

For Nano, uh, 2019, I tried a different outlining technique that Nano recommended to me, and it did not work at all. So we’re continuing with this current method.

Are there things you would like to try that are different or new to you?

I’m always willing to try something new, but for now, this is working really well. The fact that it emphasizes when things should happen kind of makes it hard to beat, at least for me. And I have been writing long enough that I kind of knows what works and what doesn’t at this point.

If I do less planning, then I run into the pacing issues again, and more planning makes me want to tear my hair out. A lot of writing, especially at the first draft level, is so instinctive, and writing to this kind of plan fixes most of my major issues so that revision is way easier. But that’s me! I imagine if you have naturally good pacing but other issues that other outlining techniques might work better.

Hoping to get my outlining workshop out on SkillShare by the end of the month! I’m worried the editing is going to take even longer than normal since the videos are longer.

Already Distracted

So, yesterday, my spouse woke up and was extremely upset about his lack of camping and specifically backpacking this summer. And I said, “Look, we’re super busy this month, so the only day we have to go is, well, today.”

So guess who had to go backpacking out of nowhere yesterday.

(Also just after we booked the campsite we got a freak hailstorm, which shredded all our plants and also flooded our basement, so we got out of here late to go backpacking. Yesterday was…something.)

So we talked Wednesday about World’s Edge being done finally, and how now I need to either revise Book One or outline/write the novella I owe Turtleduck Press or both.

And then I proceeded to do neither.

One because choices are hard, but, two, because I have two writing books out from the library. You see, a month or so ago I was going through some list of recommended writing books, and I thought I might actually read some of them.

But not now, no, that would be crazy.

So I put some on my To Read Later lists on my library card, or downloaded some samples to my Kindle, but there were two that my library did not have/were not available on the Kindle, so I decided to request these through my state’s Interlibrary Loan program, with the idea they would show up at some point but probably not soon.

(It’s been a year on my request for The Man Who Was Thursday. I know it’s still in the system because I check with the librarians periodically.)

So of course they came immediately.

They are The Story Grid, which is a revision technique, and a book called Plot Perfect, which is about plotting, as the name implies.

Now, the issue with Interlibrary Loans is that you get a single renewal. Six weeks and then they go back from whence they came, do not pass Go, do not collect $200. And from last year when I was attempting to read a writing book a month, I know that it is not fast to go through a writing book. You have to sit and absorb them, or sometimes do exercises. You have to try out the content, or what is the point?

Anyway, I’ve started working through The Story Grid. It proports itself to be a system that allows you to pinpoint what’s wrong with a story so it can be fixed in revision, which sounds like a lovely idea, and maybe will be helpful with my Book One revision.

I’ve mostly just made it through the set-up part of the book (because backpacking) but hopefully we’ll get into the process here soon. I admit to being a bit skeptical that this or any system is going to be able to pinpoint exactly what’s wrong, but here’s hoping!

My revision process works pretty well in general, but I’ve already run Book One through it once, so it probably wouldn’t hurt to try something new.

So, it’s kind of like I’m working on my revision? Very kind of.

But it does throw a wrench into things, because I do still need to get to my novella and if I’m going to try out a new revision technique, it may mean that it’ll be longer before I can switch projects. I mean, you don’t want to stop something new in the middle. That way lies madness.

Sigh. Dang it, occasionally efficient library system.

Have you tried the Story Grid technique, squiders? Thoughts on stuffing both projects into my schedule?

Also I just realized we’re less than a month from MileHiCon. Oh no.

No, no, I’ll worry about that next week.

Hope you’re having a lovely weekend!

Moving On (And a Finished Draft)

Apologies, squiders. I started this hours ago but then got distracted by Ghost Hunters. Man, I love ghost hunting shows even though I don’t actually believe in ghosts. Oh well.

So, as promised (or at least hoped for), I finished my draft of World’s Edge before this post! I finished it late last night. It’s so nice to actually have a finished draft, even though I’m not quite sure about the ending. Things to worry about later. It’s a little shorter than planned, only 95K, but close enough for now.

It’s nice to know I can still finish a draft too, after I spent all last year fighting with the Changeling story before abandoning it. (I’m pondering re-working it, maybe as a children’s book? Something for later, definitely.)

We’ll revisit Marit, Rae, Sol, Viri, and Ead in the future, of course, maybe once I finally get to revising things.

Also over is the critique marathon, which ended on Sunday. So now I’ve got six weeks of feedback, through chapter nine of Book One. It was very helpful. You guys know that the first seven chapters or so have been driving me crazy, because there’s something just off enough to bother me, but I’ve had the hardest time figuring out what it was. But I have a pretty good idea now (one character is lacking in internal conflict at the beginning, and I can condense some of the scenes without condensing the timeline), so maybe I’ll finally be able to fix it! Fingers crossed. Very excited.

Finishing a draft is always a bit weird, because you’ve been working on it for so long and whatnot, but I don’t actually feel too burnt out on this one. Which means I should be able to move on to the next project pretty quickly.

I’m thinking I’ll make a plan to move forward with Book One–figure out what needs changing and how I’m going to do it–and then, next week probably, switch to outlining the novella I owe Turtleduck Press. I’m going to film my outlining process and turn it into a workshop for SkillShare, to go along with the outlining class I put up earlier in the year.

(Reminder for self: It takes forever to edit the videos. Don’t forget that this time.)

And then…back to Book One? I’m not 100% sure. Since my soul searching in July, I know I’ve been avoiding working on Book One because I’m afraid of failure, even though my biggest goal is to have the trilogy published, and the last thing I need to do is lose the momentum I gained from the marathon.

But, on the other hand, the novella is due December 1, and it may make sense to push on through writing that to meet the deadline after outlining. It’s probably best to work on something consistently rather than switching back and forth.

But I’m at least going to make a plan for Book One. A path forward. So even if I don’t get back to it for a few months, I can remember what I wanted to do.

Hopefully.

Sigh.

I mean, I could always try to do both, I suppose. They’re in different stages, and I can normally manage an editing project and a writing project at the same time. We’ll just have to see.

Anyway, happy September, squiders. See you Friday!