Sketchbook #28

Writing

It turns out that getting three colds in the span of a month—and dropping Thanksgiving in the middle of that—doesn’t exactly do wonders for my creativity or productivity.

Who knew?

So… yeah. October wasn’t a fantastic month.

Really, I’m fine with it. It wasn’t great, but in general, I’m happy with what I have been getting done under the circumstances.

Of course, my highest priority this month has been writing—or, rather, outlining. NaNoWriMo starts in two days (!!!), and… I’m ready. My outline might not be as complete as I’d hoped it’d be (it’s definitely not as complete as I’d hoped it’d be), but it’s solid. I’ve got a good grasp of my characters, and my scene breakdown is done, and my worldbuilding is as good as it needs to be right now.

As for photography: I’m back on schedule with my Project 365 photos! I really don’t know how I did it, or how I’ve stayed on top of things, but I’m back on track, and I intend to stay there for the rest of the year.

It’s only two months. I can do that.

Aside from that project, I haven’t been able to take very many photos this month. The inspiration and motivation just haven’t been there, and, let’s be honest: one of my 365 photos was literally a blank wall. (Well. The corner where two blank walls meet, because I had to include some kind of visual interest.)

… and that’s about it. That’s all the creative work I’ve done this month.

That part annoys me. I mean, I can give myself a pass for this month. I had valid reasons for not doing much in October. But in general, I haven’t been happy with my creative output lately: I haven’t done any sewing in months (my half-finished bag is hanging in the closet, waiting for troubleshooting), I haven’t drawn anything in ages, and aside from my NaNo prep and a bit of freewriting, I haven’t been spending nearly as much time writing as I’d like to be.

We’re also getting close enough to the end of the year that I’ve started thinking ahead to 2018… and evaluating what I’ve done in 2017.

I know that my goalsetting/productivity habits aren’t cutting it right now. I know that the bullet journal system—as much as I like it in theory—doesn’t quite work for me in practice. I’ve started experimenting with some modifications that I hope will work for me (or at least lead me in the right direction), but I’m still trying to figure out what I actually need, let alone how to get there.

Maybe November isn’t the time to be thinking about this, but maybe it is. One of my NaNo goals is to firmly establish a creative habit that genuinely works for me, and that I won’t abandon as soon as the draft is finished. And, like I said: there’s only two months left in the year. I’d like to get myself back on track in time for the new year.

So. That’s the plan for November: make it through NaNo, ideally with a nearly-finished draft. (I’m still not 100% certain how long my story is going to be, but I know that it’s more than 50,000 words.) Try to do it in a way that doesn’t throw everything else into disarray, and that I can sustain through the holidays, and into the new year. (While I’m at it: reread last year’s story and start outlining the rewrite.) Continue to stay on top of the 365 project, and try to take pictures that aren’t just for that particular thing.

In general, just find my focus, and figure out how to do the work I want to be doing.

2017 Project365 #301 | Reghan Skerry

Project365: #295-301

Photography

Seriously. This week. This month.

I’m getting kind of bored with dealing with colds/flus/et cetera. I don’t handle being sick very well anyway, and spending so much time resting is getting on my nerves.

Anyway. I’ve managed to stay on track with this whole thing. That’s what matters. With any luck at all, this is the end of it, and things can get back to normal soon.

NaNoWriMo 2017 Diary | Prep Week 5

Writing

It’s been a really good week on the NaNoWriMo-prep front.

Well. Mostly. It started out good.

It started out good enough that I’m not worried about the fact that I’ve come down with yet another cold (or possibly a mild case of the flu this time?), and I haven’t made any real progress the for the last day or so.

(As an aside: I really haven’t been kidding when I say that it seems like every 3-4 years, I get everything. My theory—and I’m sure that there’s no scientific basis for this, but please leave me my illusions—is that every few years, all the viruses mutate enough that my otherwise-solid immune system can’t cope. I’m just on a weird cycle where it all happens at once, instead of a few viruses every year.)

I’ve spent most of this week working on my secondary characters, giving them life and personality and figuring out what their stories are, rather than just thinking about how they impact the main character and her story. It’s been incredibly helpful—every character I figure out helps flesh out the world, develop subplots, and generally fill in the gaps in my outline.

That’s the other thing I’ve been doing: spreading my index cards out on the floor in a grid, and staring at them a lot.

I mean. It’s more than that. I’m figuring out the shape of the story (it’s much more straightforward than last year’s project), and looking at the scenes I have and thinking about what scenes I need to make everything else work. But there’s a lot of staring and frowning and false-starts involved.

(I’m also trying to keep the cat from walking over, laying on, or stealing the index cards. That’s actually the hardest part of this whole thing.)

I’m not ready for NaNo. There’s less than a week to go (!!!), and I’m not feeling well, and I’ve still got giant plot holes to paper over. But, at the same time, I could be ready. I could start writing right now, and it wouldn’t be a disaster.

I don’t want to. I still want to (and I’m going to try to) get this story really ready to go over the next few days. I want to sleep and try to shake off this cold. (And I’m not going to have much choice, there.)

But I could.

2017 Project365 #292 | Reghan Skerry

Project365: #288-294

Photography

Admittedly, this hasn’t been the most interesting week for photography. It started off strong, but, as I mentioned before: it’s really difficult to come up with something interesting to photograph when you’re not feeling great.

But I somehow managed to keep going with the project (despite a couple of very boring days), and I’m (mostly) recovered now. I’m feeling good about this project again.

Snapshot #88 | 10 Things for 22 October 2017

Personal

Currently…

1. loving… Barbara Kean’s hair on the current season of Gotham. (In the first season, I kept getting distracted by architecture. This season, it’s her hair.)
2. looking… at new productivity systems. (Always.) As much as I love the bullet journal concept, I have to admit that it doesn’t quite work for me as well as digital, and I haven’t found a workflow that clicks for me. I’d like to experiment a little bit, and maybe come up with something that does work in time for the new year. (Plus, the last few weeks have been a mess, and I need to get some order into my days again.)
3. making… friends with kittens. It’s a compulsion.
4. enduring… another cold. This is getting annoying.
5. starting… to narrow down my recipe ideas for the holiday baking marathon. Sort of.
6. staying… on top of my Project 365 photos! Even with this stupid cold!
7. daydreaming… about ditching all my NaNoWriMo plans and writing horror instead. I’m not going to—I still love my story, and I don’t have time to plan something new—but I’m a little bit tempted.
8. hoping… that I won’t have to cancel plans again this week. (Stupid colds.)
9. thinking… about switching back to Moleskines as my notebook of choice. I love the Leuchtturm1917 paper and general organization, but the way the spine cracks makes me sad; Moleskines seem to be more durable. I’ve already got a Leuchtturm1917 waiting in the wings, but after that… I might go back. (And, yes, I spend far too much time thinking about notebooks.)
10. exploring… the new Ikea, and counting the days until my bookshelves are back in stock.

NaNoWriMo 2017 Diary | Prep Week 4

Writing

I’ve written my synopsis!

I still don’t have a working title, and I keep wavering between whether my story counts as sci-fi or fantasy (I mean… everything in it is based on “science,” but none of it is remotely realistic, and in the end it comes down to “I dunno… maybe aliens? Magic?”), but I have a synopsis, and I really like it.

Last year was the first time I bothered writing a synopsis for NaNo. I’d just never seen the point before—I knew what my story was, I had a full outline, so a synopsis felt like another variation on the theme. And… yeah. It kind of is. But it’s still really helpful.

To be clear, I haven’t written what I’d consider a “proper” synopsis. This isn’t how I’d describe the story in a query letter. This is just for myself and the NaNo site, so I’ve written something closer to back-cover copy. It’s not about selling the story to an agent or publisher, it’s about selling the story to myself, convincing myself that this is something that could work as a novel.

In that context, writing a synopsis has turned out to be really valuable.

It’s forced me to think about my story in a different way. When I write the synopsis, it’s less about the plot or the characters—though they both come into play—and more about establishing the story world and the overall tone of the story. It’s a way to draw the reader in, and to tell them what they can expect from the story without giving too much away. It’s a way to draw myself in, and to keep myself focussed on how I want the story to feel, even when I’m struggling with what happens next.

And both last year and this year, writing the synopsis has clarified bits of the story that I hadn’t quite figured out or didn’t understand. Last year, the synopsis helped me figure out the antagonist’s motivation, and the conspiracy that was lurking under the whole story. This year, it’s made me realize that, whether the story is sci-fi or fantasy, at it’s heart, it’s a relatively straightforward thriller. I know more about my main character’s backstory. And, suddenly, I know exactly how it feels to live in the story world: how it looks, how it sounds, and the vague unease that comes with just stepping out onto the street in this world.

It’s so cool.

I’m still working on the scene breakdown, though I’m feeling better about that than I was before. I’m making progress, though I’ve still got a lot of work to do. I’m still taking some time to study craft, but I’m being a little more discerning about it—right now, I don’t care at all how other writers structure their stories. I know how I’m structuring this story, and that’s enough.

I’m starting to feel like I might actually be ready when November 1 rolls around.

If you’re a NaNo-er interested in reading my synopsis, I’ve added it to my profile. (Though, naturally, it’s still subject to change.) As always, I’m thrilled to get new writing buddies, so feel free to add me—and if you need some cheerleading or commiseration, say ‘hello’ via NaNo mail! As an experiment, I’m also going to start opening up comments on these diary posts… I’m not sure if it’ll last (I’m not a fan of comments in general), but we’ll see how it goes.

(Also: this week I discovered that the index cards I bought in preparation for outlining are unlined, which is annoying, but I’ll make do. And I’ve been struggling with another cold, but at least I’m not trying to prepare for Thanksgiving on top of everything else, so I’ve been able to dedicate my limited energy to NaNo prep. I guess that’s something.)

NaNoWriMo 2017 Diary | Prep Week 3

Writing

The bad news is, I didn’t get a lot of prep work done this week. The good news is, I knew that was going to happen—my schedule’s been… weird this week.

Still, I’m starting to feel the pressure. There’s only about two and a half weeks left until NaNo kicks off, and I’m not ready. At all.

Deep breaths.

The really good news is that, barring unforeseen circumstances, I don’t have anything else that’s going to interfere with my prep time for the rest of the month. If I’m smart, and I don’t let myself get too distracted, I can absolutely finish my outline in time.

(By the way: I’m always looking for new NaNo buddies! My username on the NaNoWriMo site is indecorous—feel free to add me. If you need a cheerleader, or someone to bounce ideas off of, drop me a note via NaNo mail.)

Snapshot #87 | 10 Things for 8 October 2017

Personal

Currently…

1. stocking… up on index cards and coloured pens. ❤️
2. trying… to narrow down my choices for this year’s Christmas baking marathon. I have too many recipes.
3. updating… my portfolio. I absolutely love the surfing photos I took this summer.
4. dealing… with a cold. It hasn’t been terrible, just bad enough to destroy my attention span and make me want to sleep all the time. But I think I’m getting better now.
5. starting… to think about my goals for next year. Yes. Already.
6. swooning… over the Super Nintendo Classic. I kind of need one. Hearing the music for Star Fox 2 triggers the same adrenaline rush that the original did when I was 13. (And the Legend of Zelda music might’ve made me tear up, just a little.)
7. making… cranberry sauce and a pumpkin tart.
8. watching… Star Trek: Discovery. It’s really good so far.
9. getting… caught up on my Project 365 posts. I’m so close! I am determined to get through the rest of the year without falling behind again—this has been painful.
10. daydreaming… about tiny little apartments with amazing windows. (This is not a new thing for me.)

2017 Project365 #255 | Reghan Skerry

Project365: #253-266

Photography

Ok. So. The problem—one of the problems—with running behind on posting my Project365 photos is that it gets tricky to keep track of the actual numbers. (I numbered one of the photos incorrectly in the last two weeks, and only just noticed it today.)

Anyway! It’s fixed now, and I’m fairly certain I’ll be able to get completely caught up very soon, and then I can stop worrying about it. Really.