The Sunday Circle: What Are You Working On This Week?

Sunday Circle Banner

The Sunday Circle is the weekly check-in where I ask the creative-types who follow this blog to weigh in about their goals, inspirations, and challenges for the coming week. The logic behind it can be found here. Want to be involved? It’s easy – just answer three questions in the comments or on your own blog (with a link in the comments here, so that everyone can find them).

After that, throw some thoughts around about other people’s projects, ask questions if you’re so inclined. Be supportive above all.

Then show up again next Sunday when the circle updates next, letting us know how you did on your weekly project and what you’ve got coming down the pipe in the coming week (if you’d like to part of the circle, without subscribing to the rest of the blog, you can sign-up for reminders via email here).

MY CHECK-IN

What am I working on this week?

Still running through the mix of projects this week.Both Project Beeman and Project Red are in the final neck this week and next, and I have to keep reminding myself that the final scenes never feel right on a first draft because they’re victim of all the problems in the earlier drafts. This means one of the big task that’s occupying my attention is fleshing out Project Beeman and doing some corrective rewrites on a bunch of scenes that are using the wrong POV or simply don’t work after the story changed around them.

What’s inspiring me this week?

I spent some quality time being introduced to The Tudors this week, where I spent a lot of time failing to recognise Henry Cavill and basically being surprised at the number of people who went on to be more recognisable in other things. It has had the unexpected consequence of getting me looking at a lot of the history, winding back to the War of the Roses for the additional context it provides.

What action do I need to take?

I’ve got three emails that really need to be sent that keep getting put off and about 500 words of copy, all of which advancing Project Countdown to the point where it hits the pointy end.

Getting Shit Done is Always Subjective

If there’s a pattern in my writing routine that remains unassailable, it’s this: Thursdays are the hardest days of the week. It’s rare that I get a day where writing is the sole thing I’m doing – there is always thesis work, and meetings, things that need doing for GenreCon and spending time with my girlfriend – but Thursdays are inevitably the day where the balance tips towards not-writing. It’s the day I spend six hours at work, the evening in which I will go game with my friends, and it’s often the evening where my girlfriend and I will abscond to the local sushi place for pre-game dinner.

On Thursdays, I get stuff written before work. Yesterday, I managed about two thousand words, which is a pretty fucking efficient day given there was only about two hours of writing time before I had to jump on a train. It just felt like a failure, in many respects, because the rest of the working week I can usually manage twice as many words before my brain grinds to a halt and refuses to do more. Everything else that gone done in that day didn’t register, because my brain is focused on stories and deadlines and thinking through what needs to be done when.

Productivity is subjective. A year ago, getting two thousands words done on a work day would have seemed like a monumentally awesome thing. I would have given myself a mental high-five and been incredibly pleased with myself. Even a week ago, I would have nodded sagely and put the days productivity into context.

Instead, this week, I brooded on the lack of productivity for most of the day, and spent the commute home on an overcrowded train pondering the difficulties in telling the difference between a bad day, actual depression, and the feeling of being three-quarters of the way through writing a book and deciding everything is awful. Then I came home from gaming and dragged another thousand words out of my brain, because I’ve got projects and deadlines and gantt charts to follow and the book does not get any easier to write or any closer to finished if I’m not working on it.

I’ve written 14,699 words since Monday. I will get that up around 17,500 by the end of today, which means I’ve hit my targets for the week and can afford to take the weekend off to recharge the batteries and come back on Monday eager to be working again. By the end of the month I’ll have a thesis novella of my plate and will be searching for beta-readers for Project Beeman, then start brainstorming the second book in that particular novella series.

By every metric I use to measure what I’m doing, I am getting shit done. I am keeping projects on track and bringing them home, managing my time effectively. Subjectively yesterday felt like arse, but objectively I did exactly what I needed to do.

Which is why I have the metrics and plans, creating the hard edge I can use to measure things instead of trusting in my gut.

Feeling like you’ve got shit done is subjective as hell – the good days are rarely as good as you’re thinking and the bad days are rarely as bad. Data for its own sake is useful, but incomplete. Data within a context or timeline shows you progress your gut will ignore, which is what makes it worth tracking. My brain can tell me Thursday sucked all it wants, but the data I’m tracking tells me the things that got done kept my urgent projects on track, and the things I had to set aside had minor effects on my deadlines.

In short, it was a shitty day, but I did a pretty good job with it. I totally got shit done.

The Sunday Circle: What Are You Working On This Week?

Sunday Circle Banner

The Sunday Circle is the weekly check-in where I ask the creative-types who follow this blog to weigh in about their goals, inspirations, and challenges for the coming week. The logic behind it can be found here. Want to be involved? It’s easy – just answer three questions in the comments or on your own blog (with a link in the comments here, so that everyone can find them).

After that, throw some thoughts around about other people’s projects, ask questions if you’re so inclined. Be supportive above all.

Then show up again next Sunday when the circle updates next, letting us know how you did on your weekly project and what you’ve got coming down the pipe in the coming week (if you’d like to part of the circle, without subscribing to the rest of the blog, you can sign-up for reminders via email here).

MY CHECK-IN

What am I working on this week?

I mentioned a whole bunch of things in Friday’s post that are still very much on the cards, but my priority for the coming week is running down the checklist of things that need to be done to get Project: Countdown finalised by the end of September.

Splitting my focus continues to work for me. Three of the five writing projects that get my time on a daily basis have deadlines within the next three months and all are ahead of where I expected to be at this point. I had a big epiphany about Project Beeman on Friday that has basically made the entire book fall into place, and set up a bunch of the things that will follow it in the months to come.

What’s inspiring me this week?

I put out a call for books with great racing descriptions this week and a friend suggested S.B. Divya’s novella Runtime which features cyborgs running ultra-marathons. It’s a neat little cyberpunk concept with some great worldbuilding, but reaction to it has been mixed as people either love it or find that it falls into that perennial critique of novellas – “it feels undercooked and I wanted more.”

I feel on the latter side, and given that I’ve written a bunch of novellas and plan on writing more, I spend a lot of time paying attention when I have that reaction in an attempt to figure out where it’s frustrating me. I’m still not sure yet, but reading reviews and comparing my reaction to other people’s is intriguing.

What action do I need to take?

That checklist of things for Project Countdown? I need to revisit it and rebuild it from scratch at this point, since I’m still working on the next-action list I put together a month ago and things have progressed much, much faster since then. I’m now at the point where there’s a bunch of vague things I know I need to do, but no clear guidelines about when or how they’re going to occur.

I also need to keep a close eye on the site’s spam list this week, as it swallowed a bunch of incoming posts from last week’s Sunday Circle.

 

Things I Am Currently Doing, September 8 2017 Edition

  • Sitting in the UQ postgraduate room, waiting until midday when I will go and meet with my supervisor about the work I’ve done while she was away at WorldCon. Happily, I can report that there’s been some movement in my thinking about Dramatic vs. Iconic characters in series works that will be useful to explore in my creative project, and I’m on track to finish the first of my novella drafts by the time we hit the end of September.
  • Working on said novella draft, dubbed Project: Red in my to-do list. The current word-count is spread the full length of the project, mapping out the plot and its movement, so much of what’ remains is going through to flesh out scenes and make them make sense.
  • Working on Project: Gladiator, which will be the first in a series of short, very pulpy novels that I may-or-may-not have danced around the idea of writing a few times on social media. Currently one-sixth of the way through and just sorting out the voice issues – I’m starting to deploy present tense, as this is very much trying to capture a B-movie feel and present tense is the tense of film treatments and scripts.
  • Working on Project: Beeman, which started out as a novella and is probably going to trundle into short novel territory.
  • Proofing The Birdcage Heart and Other Strange Tales, a collection of short fiction that I put together to test some ideas I was reading about for the thesis and liked enough to put as a book. This one brings together twelve stories on the fantasy/magic realist/slipstream end of my work.
  • Putting together Not Quite The End Of The World Just Yet, which will essentially be the follow up for the above that brings together some of the stories I’ve done which fit in the range between slipstream and SF.
  • Preparing to put together an email newsletter, which is one of those things I’ve been toying with for nearly a year now and have no real reason to avoid anymore.
  • Hyperventilating and fretting about things.
  • Getting everything in place to finish off a thing that’s been on my list as Project: Countdown for nearly a year now, waiting for me to finally commit to it.
  • Hanging with guinea pigs, which are considerably cooler than I first thought they would be.

The Sunday Circle: What Are You Working On This Week?

Sunday Circle Banner

The Sunday Circle is the weekly check-in where I ask the creative-types who follow this blog to weigh in about their goals, inspirations, and challenges for the coming week. The logic behind it can be found here. Want to be involved? It’s easy – just answer three questions in the comments or on your own blog (with a link in the comments here, so that everyone can find them).

After that, throw some thoughts around about other people’s projects, ask questions if you’re so inclined. Be supportive above all.

Then show up again next Sunday when the circle updates next, letting us know how you did on your weekly project and what you’ve got coming down the pipe in the coming week (if you’d like to part of the circle, without subscribing to the rest of the blog, you can sign-up for reminders via email here).

MY CHECK-IN

What am I working on this week?

This week I settled into a weekly routine where I split my focus between 3-5 different writing projects at different stages of completion, moving each of them forward. It’s utterly counter-intuitive in many different ways, but I realised I’d need to write about 3,500 words every week day to hit my current deadlines and it’s the easiest way to complete them.

Which means, on the slate this week: moving into the second half of the second act for Project Beeman, hitting the midpoint of my first PhD novella, Project Red, and the end of the first act on Project Gladiator. I’ve also got some incidental design and research that needs doing for a little thing that’s in my bujo as Project Countdown.

What’s inspiring me this week?

I’ve been re-reading bits and pieces of Joe Lansdale’s Hap and Leonard series, as he remains one of those writers where I always see something new in how he’s done it.

I also sat down to start watching Wynona Earp on Netflix. I’d heard it was good, in that general way that the internet latches ono good shows, but it’s actually quite extraordinary (and possibly a show that is custom-built to appeal to Kevin). The last few years have a seen a lot of shows launch that work in the same terrain as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but Earp takes that initial brief and essentially creates a modern Western with some great characters and really tight writing.

What action do I need to take?

I have a small list of things that need to be done for Project Countdown that I keep putting off because a) they’re going to cost money I haven’t fully budgeted for yet, and b) they’re going to feel like I’m getting closer to doing this particular project and it’s somewhat scary. The next step is a lot of google searching, form-filling, and making a long-term decision.

On Loving What You Write

New writers are often told to ignore the market and focus on writing what they love. It’s solid enough advice, for what it’s worth, but I think there’s a flipside to that. At some point, no matter what the project, you need to figure out how to love what you’re writing.

There are probably writers out there who can write a whole novel without coming to loathe or fear the manuscript, but I do not come across them all that often. What’s far more common are the conversations where doubt has seeped in, or an idea that was once exciting and shiny has grown worn down with use and the realities of sitting there and putting words on the page. Ideas move away from their Platonic ideal as you write them, because execution is harder than imagining. The set up of the first act is significantly more exciting than the delivering on that promise in the second and resolving it in the third.

My first attempt to write a novel suffered horribly because of this. I wrote four seperate first acts, pulling in fresh ideas without thinking through their resolution. The things I write today still struggle with the impulse. As I hit the second quarter of a book I start creating things that need to be excised from a story, tucked away for something else because they’re pulling focus.

I had to step back and focus on the thing that started it for me: why did I want to write this? Why did it seem fun?

I need to figure out how to love the project all over again, instead of asking it to be something it wasn’t meant to be.