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

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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 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? The Gothic YA rewrite is under way and is…odd. I had forgotten how messy the first few chapters were, when I was still struggling to figure out what was going on, and the narrative voice has ended up being very self-consciously authorial.

What’s inspiring me this week? I watched Rian Johnson’s Brick (2005), which is incredible and really helped untangle some plot problems I had with an old, old project by laying out the noir tropes in a different context. The really inspiring thing for the last week has been watching through Every Frame a Painting, which I raved about in a blog post of its own last week.

What part of my project an I avoiding? I put a huge kink in my year of data tracking plans by going back to notebooks for first-draft purposes a few days before New Year, and I’ve really been dragging my feet in finalizing the the spreadsheet I plan on using for the year. Mostly this is because I now need to make adjustments and figure out how to cover the stuff that isn’t going to be automatically handled by RescueTime

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

  1. 03/01/2016 at 8:56 AM

    What am I working on this week? I’m writing the first draft of my next love story novel. Just tipped over 45k. Goal is to be done with the draft (around 80k) by the end of the month, so I can rest it for a couple of months before rewrite. Having remedied my avoidance of planning the sticky second half, it’s going quite ok at the moment. Also jotting ideas as they come for the PhD project, which kicks of 1 Feb.

    What’s inspiring me this week? I’m reading The Time Traveller’s Almanac (with Eds. Vandermeer) and also watching fab BBC docos about the Victorian era.

    What part of my project an I avoiding? Not much at the moment, just the 5 mins of writing avoided to do this, so back to it now.

  2. 03/01/2016 at 9:33 AM

    What am I working on this week? Not the retro book cover, for it is done and sent away for final approval! I have a stack of other illustrations this week, but the big conceptual tasks are (1) researching and editing the first draft of The Heirs of Marchmont Manor, (2) finishing the colouring on a short comic and (3) planning the year/tidying my desk.

    What’s inspiring me this week? Getting Charlotte hooked on the Gainsborough productions of Barbara Cartland’s historical romances (Christopher Plummer! Edward Fox! Hugh Grant! Helena Bonham Carter! The wigs!). Also, Gothic melodrama generally – any potential angst is generally channelled into climbing out windows or driving carriages over cliffs (A Ghost in Monte Carlo). Also, lining up some Regency research. I’m particularly looking forward to reading some more letters and diaries, especially Frances Burney’s. If you want a traumatic first-hand account of surgery without anaesthetic while also trying to protect your husband from knowledge of the degree of sickness and the fact of the surgery at all, here is her account of her mastectomy:

    What project am I avoiding? Cleaning my desk and filing; working out whether I need a full year planner, and what size, and should I buy it or just rule it up on brown paper.

  3. 03/01/2016 at 9:47 AM

    What am I working on this week?
    Current wip.

    What’s inspiring me this week?
    Silly movies. Last night was a rewatch (possibly only 2nd, or even 1st since theatre) of Guardians of the Galaxy. Jupiter Ascending is also on the list. I find them both just silly. No analysis. Just go for the visual ride.

    What part of my project an I avoiding?
    Getting my continuity back. I’ve been health bitten so many times I am actually at times physically nervous of the commitment. But will push through it.

    Also, if you want a squiz, I have developed a word doc (*shudders* at the thought of any type of spreadsheet program before anyone says anything lol), which is for a non-word-count system (I have failed so. many. times. at many iterations of bingo etc I can’t face the failure again). It’s set to “low” which allows me to re-find stamina, momentum etc.

    • 03/01/2016 at 4:44 PM

      Another film that would go well on the “Unplug brain, enjoy eye candy list” if you haven’t seen it before is Speed Racer – the Wachowskis’ adaption from (mid? late? 2000s)

  4. 03/01/2016 at 4:33 PM

    What am I working on this week?
    I’ve sent off a couple of auditions I was rather happy with, and other than that the majority of my time has been spent in doing a FULL sweep through my Omnifocus database (essentially an outboard brain for tracking planned projects, to-do lists and the like) and clearing out cruft and making sure that everything is actionable and makes sense.

    There’s a great point that David Allen makes in Getting Things Done about how you go numb to things that aren’t clearly actionable that I’ll waffle about in a blog post at some point, but that’s been a huge problem with how a lot of the info in here has been organised. I’m ALMOST done, but I’d forgotten how horribly/wonderfully fractal some of this stuff is. You sit with a task for a little bit, and suddenly realise the five other things that automatically suggests. I’m currently sitting at 452 projects and 1900 actions, which range widely in their scope.

    What’s inspiring me this week?
    Not any one thing, but curiosity. While clearing out task cruft, I’ve checked out two artists I’ve had on a recommendations list forever but never got around to sampling. I love how easy it is to immerse yourself in something new online, almost instantly. Found this one hour set by Alison Wonderland that I really dug, and is really different to anything I’d typically think to engage with:

    Also, I’m not sure if I’ve shared this before, but I’ve started using Forest more and more ( and finally spent the five minutes it takes to create an account. It’s been fantastic for killing procrastination in two ways:

    1) If I’m working on the laptop, I’ve realised how often I’ll open up a quick procrastination tab on Facebook or some other fun site, which kills building momentum and flow on the task I’m working on
    2) If I’m listening to podcasts on the iPad, I’ve got a really bad habit of just popping into Facebook to see if there are any notifications in the last twenty minutes, when I really don’t need to be there.

    And it helps with both!

    What part of my project am I avoiding?
    I’m finding the fractal nature of what I’m doing mentally exhausting, given that each task needs to be evaluated to figure out what it really means and needs. So there’s been a fair amount of procrastination/tinkering with Netrunner over the week.

    Ugh. Apologies if that’s a little meandering. Mind. Numb.

    • maggiedot
      04/01/2016 at 8:00 AM

      I’m not familiar with Omnifocus myself, but is this a project that needs to be completed in-total by a certain deadline? If not, would it be possible to break it up into more manageable pieces? Like evaluating 2-3 projects a day throughout the year? Or perhaps looking at it as X number of projects to review per week? The sheer magnitude of having to go through so many pieces of data and spend mental time ranking them might be perfect for more of a baby-steps approach, if there’s no rush!

      If there is, that does make it more challenging. In the case that you have to put in long hours getting this finished without much time to spread it out over, I had a professor once who recommended breaking every hour up into 40 minutes of work and 20 minutes of relaxing/doing something completely different. The break is just long enough to start feeling that itch of “I really should get back to work!” but not so long that you waste time. And 40 minutes is the perfect sweet-spot for when the brain begins to wander anyway. I’ve found that I tend to be more productive when I follow this system, because if I start to burn out after twenty or thirty minutes of working on a specific task, working for another ten or twenty minutes to complete the 40 minute cycle and earn a 20 minute break somehow seems doable. Plus, the built-in breaks seem to protect a little against the brain burnout. 🙂

      • 10/01/2016 at 10:12 PM

        I missed this response last week (must not have clicked for email notifications) but I wanted to say a big THANK YOU for your suggestion. Breaking up time that way is a great idea for cognition-heavy tasks to avoid burnout, and it’s super-easy for me to adjust the way I use a particular browser plugin to enforce that 40 minute period.

        • maggiedot
          10/01/2016 at 11:20 PM

          I’m so glad this helped! It really saved me a lot of agony back when I was writing 20 page papers all the time. ^_^

  5. maggiedot
    04/01/2016 at 8:23 AM

    What am I working on this week? This week, I’m writing a flash fiction story, and spending the rest of whatever salvaged writing time I can scrape together on digging back into my first serious novel edit, which I’m frankly a bit terrified of, but also pretty jazzed about. I’d love to tweak a short story, too, but we’ll see if I can fit that in.

    What’s inspiring me this week? I’ve been having a blast listening to the audiobook for The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black. I’m not sure I realized it was a vampire book when I picked it up (not sure why), but I’m really enjoying her world-building and her eccentric characters. There are parts that bug me as a bit too love-triangle-y, but I’m enjoying the story so much, it doesn’t stop me from racing to plug in the headphones while I wash dishes in the evening.

    As of yesterday, I’m also kind of infatuated with the “Permission to Fail” section of Jeff Vandermeer’s Booklife. The majority of the book is a bit beyond where I’m at currently, but that section really resonated with me more than I expected. It’s made me really fired up to try tackling a few projects I adore thinking about, but have been somewhat scared to try my hand at, because they’re just so…odd. But that’s what I love about them! But it’s been very encouraging, in that regard, and anything that makes me amped up to write is counted as a good thing in my book.

    What part of my project am I avoiding? Just starting, in general. With my husband’s weird and demanding work schedule, I find it hard to take time away for myself when he’s actually around, and our daily pattern gets really topsy-turvy when he only has one day off a week (and that, not always a weekend day). Yesterday, he had off, so we did all the errands we needed to, etc., but that leaves today feeling like an extra step in a staircase I forgot was either there or not there, and stepped down too hard on the solid floor. But I’m just going to dive in tomorrow and hope for the best (and hope for a nap! The little guy didn’t take one today…oy…I hope this isn’t the new pattern…). ^_^

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