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?

The final phase of Project Countdown hits its end this week, as I finally get Brain Jar Press officially started and prepare The Birdcage Heart and Other Strange Tales so I can open it up to pre-orders on November 1 and delivery by November 30. This means finalising the copy, setting up the files for the print edition, and running through a pre-launch checklist to make sure I’ve got everything ready to go. It’s a bit of a soft launch, as I’ll be working on the press in earnest in 2018, but I wanted to get all the publication processes down before I moved on to adding new work to the mix.

What’s inspiring me this week?

I’ve been reading volume one of the Shadow Unit project, which is a bunch of professional writers getting together to create fanfic for the best TV show that doesn’t actually exist. It’s one of those interesting not-quite-crowd-funded projects that would have made a lot more sense a decade later, with the existence of Patreon, and it’s interesting to look at how they’ve implemented the concept in light of my PhD project. 

The whole series has been online for a while, but I’ve been collecting them in ebook and reading everything that way.

What action do I need to take?

I’m due to show my supervisor progress on the thesis novella this Friday, and I’ve been distracted enough that I still need to do some final drafting and rewriting before it’s in a state where I can do that. I keep putting it off because I’ll also need to cut about six to eight thousand words out of the final draft, based on the wordcounts I’m meant to be hitting, and it’s frustrating to know that before the project is done.

When you run a con, you’re never really not-running a conference…

In the weeks before a major event, you never really switch off. You just power down for a bit, waiting for the next call where you leap into action and get things done.

We are five weeks out from GenreCon, and it’s my sixth go-around running a big event, so I know what to expect from this bit. I know that I cannot be trusted with an iron, because we’ve entered the period where I will just leave it on. I know I’ll climb aboard the wrong train and go 25 minutes out of my way before it occurs to me that I should be home by now. The nightmares have started and the constant, low-key adrenaline has set in.

People keep reassuring me that things will be fine, and I’m about 99% sure that they will be, and event like GenreCon is a lot of moving parts and this is the period where I’m not responsible for all of them. There’s a lot of handing off to others and waiting for news to filter back, and there’s a lot of points where people who aren’t familiar with the con start interacting with systems and processes.

This is the point where we start finding out what I’ve got right this year, and what can be improved next time. It’s the point where I am on alert at all times, in case I can circumvent just one more thing and keep it all running smoothly.

I play a lot of computer games in the lead-up to a con, because they’re relatively easy to immerse myself in when needed and put down when it’s time to fix something. I mainline a lot of TV. This year, I’m gearing up to run a D&D campaign for the first time in seven or eight years, and the sudden shift from very rules-light to moderately rules-intensive systems gives me plenty of things to tinker with when I need to keep my brain distracted.

It’s also a good time to learn new skills and experiment with my practice. Last time around, I switched over to drafting in notebooks after writing on PCs for nearly a decade. This time, I’m putting things into place to launch a micro-publisher going by the name of Brain Jar Press before the end of the year, the culmination of several months of set-up and planning.

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?

With five weeks to go, my brain is largely focused on GenreCon logistics and planning out work for the post-GenreCon writing period so I can bounce back fast and get to work. My only writing focus this week is doing some rewrites on Project: Red ahead of meeting my supervisor.

What’s inspiring me this week?

Rewatching Game of Thrones with my partner, and I’m becoming increasingly appreciative of the way the series frames its conflicts. There is almost always a series of scenes early in the season that will be mirrored in the later parts, either playing out exactly the way someone predicted or serving as an inversion of the earlier situation. The set-up and reward is incredibly tight, and something I’m interested in stealing for my own work.

What action do I need to take?

I meant to do an October checkpoint earlier in the week, but time got away from me. I really need to sit down and map out all the important deadlines and commitments in the next month, then figure out what can be done around that. It’s particularly important now, because I get a little fuzzy-headed and distracted in the lead-up to the con and I’ve already jumped on the wrong train at least once and ended up an hour out of my way.

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?

Last week week was rough on the writing front, courtesy of two projects moving into their final quarter at the same time and the looming point where GenreCon starts to take over my thinking. I’ve hit the point where raw word count ceases to be a useful benchmark, so this week I’m taking those to projects apart and setting up a list of scenes that either need to be revised or created anew.

What’s inspiring me this week?

I finished watching the first season of The Tudors and reading/watching Game of Thrones in the same week, and it’s interesting to see the parallels between English history and the way GoT is set up. The War of the Roses has always been an obvious reference point for Martin’s series, but there was a scene in the Tudors where Henry offers the role of chancellor to Thomas Moore and the immediate parallels between the portrayal of Robert Boratheon and Ned Stark leapt out.

I also started playing X-Com 2, courtesy of Kevin’s video project, and it’s starting to get me excited about a project I’ve had in mind for a while. I won’t be starting it just yet, but I’m locking down a bunch of research and planning in advance of getting time in my schedule.

What action do I need to take?

I’ve got to put together a bunch of meta-data that’s serving as the penultimate major task before Project Countdown moves into its final phase, but I’ve been putting it off because there’s no clear list of everything that needs to be done. This week I need to move that task back a step and establish the list and word restrictions I need to put together.

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.