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

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Well, it’s here. Not just Sunday, where I ask all my fellow creative-types about their goals and inspirations for the coming week, but the holiday season where getting stuff done around the parties and family gatherings becomes a monolithic task.

Personally, my war on Christmas is all about carving out writing time amid the goddamn chaos.

If you’re doing the same, feel free to check in with the Sunday Circle. 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 week two (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).


What am I working on this week? Ended up just shy of 14 hours of writing last week, according to Rescue Time, but the opening chapters of Space Marines: Pew! Pew! Pew! are starting to take form. I’ll be spending the next week is rewriting the first chapter, which is in the wrong tense at present, and finishing chapter two. Aiming for another 14 hours of writing, but quietly hoping I can get it to twenty given that I’ve now begun a month away from the day-job.

What’s inspiring me this week? I finally sat down and rewatched the Doom movie staring the Rock and , which I love in all sorts of ways that have nothing to do with quality. I’m trying to work out what it is that I like about space marine movies even when they’re awful, so I can try and capture it in my writing.

What part of my project an I avoiding? Figuring out a structure for my day that works during the holidays. I had a really good run of getting my daily word-count in over the last week – frequently breezing past the two hour mark – but the moment we wrapped up the day-job for the year I went into a kind of endless procrastination that involved doing no work whatsoever (not just writing – I’m also avoiding laundry, cooking, and finalizing my Christmas shopping).

I am at my worse when I have time for things. This will make the next month dangerous.

  10 comments for “The Sunday Circle: What Are You Working On This Week?

  1. 20/12/2015 at 2:05 PM

    What am I working on this week? I’ve been spending a lot of time on finally doing a thorough GTD sweep through all my cruft to get prepared for next year, and close a lot of open loops I’ve been carrying around. I’m feeling like, as the momentum continues from the cascade of dominoes from re-reading Accidental Creative, that a lot of good advice I’ve received over the last few years is finally landing. Got a character concept out for the video game project that was well-received last week, so tweaking that a little this week to get it even better.

    Tragically, Karen Fainges (a regular commenter here in the Sunday Circle, and the author of the book I was producing as an audiobook, passed away last Monday. The world lost a wonderful mother, wife, author, teacher, blogger… so many things. A wicked sense of humour, and a warm heart.

    What’s inspiring me this week? The cyberpunk fascination continues, although it’s tapered off from being so rabid. Now the challenge is whether I can continue to explore a genre with rapt attention after that initial rush of obsession fades away. Started a statistics course over on Udacity as a stepping stone to finally doing something with computational AI programming, so the challenge is keeping that time-boxed carefully rather than having side pursuits take up all my creating time.

    I’m also currently fascinated by a card game called Netrunner, and I’ve been paying careful attention to the steps I’ve been taking to wrap my head around it – a known problem space with a mix of concrete and subjective answers to how you approach it, and I’m looking to apply that same rabid pace and hunger to how I approach difficult knowledge domains in my creative work, and break that internal story of “Can’t find the answer to that because it’s too hard/just a complete mystery”. Things like how you get an animated series made into a concrete product.

    I’ve also found this week there have been some pleasant and unexpected steps towards finding the right people for regular Head to Head meetings – regular one on one chats with people you trust (and maybe envy a little, are competitive with in the positive sense) as a creative peer. So that’s a wonderful unexpected step towards how I want 2016 to work.

    What part of my project am I avoiding? I’m concerned that closing open loops and getting ready for 2016 can take on a life of its own, and just become shuffling papers for its own sake. Optimising my work space has made work a joy, and reduced a lot of friction in starting the day, and its nice to have a clearer radar on things I need to be concerned about. I’ll have a clearer picture on this one in the New Year.

    Phew. Thanks for chewing through the essay!

    • 20/12/2015 at 6:42 PM

      I’m so sorry to hear about Karen, Kevin!

  2. 20/12/2015 at 2:19 PM

    Out of curiosity Pete, what is it that makes you terrible when you have free time on your hands? Is it the lack of constraints to shape the problem? Or the terrifying opportunity cost involved in choices and all of that time?!?

    Also, what’s the point in Doom (if any) where it goes off the rails for you, and goes from gonzo Aliens rehash to just a mess?

    • 20/12/2015 at 4:07 PM

      It’s a combination of stuff that would probably be a series of blog posts to unpack ’em all, but the biggest is that so many of my productivity habits are triggered by either a) the process of getting up and getting ready for work, or b) coming home from work and going into a regular routine of exercise, food, writing.

      And doom goes off the rails at the midpoint of the film.

      • 20/12/2015 at 4:21 PM

        That’s fascinating – that getting up and making the most of the day doesn’t trigger those same habits on your own time. But I guess we’re all wired differently, and you certainly have a much more productive set of responses to stress and deadlines than I do.

        Agreed on Doom, too – it’s really good right up until the point where it starts to show some of its cards about what’s going on. Which is a shame, because the conflict between Sarge and Reaper could have been really interesting, given that it’s resting on company loyalty versus squad loyalty, which is really relevant to Marine culture from the very little I understand (you know, the whole “Unit, Corps, God Country” credo)

        • 20/12/2015 at 4:38 PM

          There’s very little conscious thought about seizing anything – I get up and write ’cause that’s what I do before work, and I ride the exercise bike, shower, and write after work ’cause that’s the sequence of things that happen upon walking through the door. If I break that routine even a little, the entire process unravels. And if I think about it, I’ll talk myself out of doing either 🙂

  3. 20/12/2015 at 6:39 PM

    What am I working on this week? Writing-wise, I am gathering research texts for my second Regency attempt, and have a Skype meeting to discuss the early draft of the first one on Wednesday so I need to review that once more. Art-wise, I need to ink and colour-flat a 5 page comic, and build up the colours on a book cover.

    What’s inspiring me this week? A Certain Movie, because of a little low-level theme about celebrating any job well done, since life is likely to be short, and also because of the reminder that dogged, faithful good-will can sometimes carry a story a lot further than flash and CGI alone. I’ve also finished my first read of The Accidental Creative and am rereading The Now Habit. Getting Things Done and The Now Habit were both very helpful for me a few years ago (several people recently have commented they noticed a huge change at the time), and given I have only two more days left as a lawyer, it seemed like a good time to revisit them. I’m endeavouring to work out where the sweet-spot in work is for me, and then use that to guide what I’ll be aiming to get out of uni as well as in art/writing next year. It’s something to do with work-as-conversation (sketching in dialogue with a book; arguing on my feet at a property settlement; drawing allusions from all the books in the back of my mind when writing), and synthesising previous input into something new.

    What part of my project am I avoiding? I’m hugely resistant to just Sitting Down And Finishing this book cover. HUGELY. I want a do-over and I’m not even done. It’s a painterly style, so not my comfort zone, and also it’s a style I’d prefer to do in actual paint, but can’t yet. I have felt this way with every piece I’ve done in this style.

  4. 21/12/2015 at 9:37 AM

    What am I working on this week? Still the queerish PNR. Have started chapter five and realised that I need to do a bit of plot reworking before I get to the point where things get a bit crowded timeline-wise (imminent). By the way, Kevin, thank you for your comment last week – I never got around to replying, but had a think and discovered the problem was mostly that I was spending Saturdays second-guessing decisions I’d already made (and was unlikely to change).

    What’s inspiring me this week? Still lovely queer romance and fantasy. I’m partway through Brute by Kim Fielding which is really beautiful, after which I’ve got new-to-me Tanya Huff to read!

    What part of my project am I avoiding Both the writing and the replotting (I think because if I write, I’ll get to the snarly bit) – which is again stupid because I have in fact already decided how I’m going to solve the problem, and I’m basically happy with my solution as a first-draft thing, so I’m back to second-guessing. Also, I’m tired, because this week has been too much Christmas crap, trying to rejig my sleeping patterns, and commensurate fucked-up sleep schedule. Sigh.

  5. 22/12/2015 at 10:09 AM

    Just read this post and have decided come post Christmas (and this horrid head cold that has me barely functioning) I shall join in on the Sunday Circle. Feels like it’s time.

    I’m also looking at finding a new way to do probably a page count (instead of a word count, which no matter what version of set up I do, it falls over, mostly tied to health) with a new writing rhythm that I can actually live with (rather than beat myself up over failing constantly).

    • maggiedot
      24/12/2015 at 9:35 AM

      I was just thinking the exact same thing! (This week has been a moderate head cold, plus hosting Christmas for the first time, and running around after an 18 month old (who, of course, *also* has a cold)! Boy, this time of year…)

      I also tend to beat myself up (a lot…) for being less productive than I want to be, so I’ve also been trying to find a good way to measure progress (not directly tied to word count). (The active kiddo challenges my ability to write with any dependable regularity these days.)

      Are you writing mostly long form or short form? For short form, I’ve found setting broader (longer-term) goals has helped compensate for unpredictable writing time. For an example, last year I did a six month stint of editing/submitting one story a month. I had a backlog of rough drafts at the time, but could–over the course of a month–scrape the time together to get that done. It’s slow, but it adds up! Lately, I’ve been focusing on flash fiction, shooting to write one rough draft a week for a set period. I write pretty fast, so if I get an hour in the evening, or a decent nap time (which is rare!), I can scrape up the words (and mental space) for that. Both goals, though, allow for me to have wiggle-room during the week/month for days I simply can’t fit writing in, but they keep me shooting for something, too, so I never quite feel like I’m falling behind.

      I’ve also found Anne Lamott’s advice to write “short assignments” very helpful during this busy/complicated time. (From her memoir/writing book, Bird by Bird: “I go back to trying to breathe, slowly and calmly, and I finally notice the one-inch picture frame that I put on my desk to remind me of short assignments. It reminds me that all I have to do is to write down as much as I can see through a one-inch picture frame. This is all I have to bite off for the time being.”) For a longer editing project I’m working on, I’ll sometimes jot a description or a passage of dialogue on my phone when I can’t otherwise get away–even just a paragraph here and there can add up with time and help smooth out the mental muscle-stiffness that I always find hits me when I come back to a project after a few days away from it. 🙂

      But hang in there, and be kind to yourself! That’s something I’m working on, too. ^_^

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