The 2018 Reboot | Week 8 Check-In

Productivity

The past seven days have been… less than ideal. I’m still dealing with this stupid cold (the worst of it seems to be hitting me right about now), and construction on my building, and… yeah.

But! The reboot continues, even if it’s a little slower than I’d like at the moment. (If you’re just joining me and not sure what I’m talking about, here’s the explanation.)


I’m going to keep this update short and sweet.

The goals:

Improve the quality of the art I’m consuming, in order to improve the quality of the art I’m creating.
Still going strong. Not right at this moment (my attention span is pretty much limited to the fluffiest of romcoms right now), but in general: I’m doing well.

Find a way to structure my time in order to support my bigger goals (creative and otherwise).
This… hasn’t been going so well. I’m still tracking my focus, motivation, and energy throughout the day, but I’m going to have to keep that up for another week or two. (The data is a bit skewed right now, for obvious reasons.) Overall, though, I do feel like I’m moving in the right direction.

Develop workflows for writing and photography. And blogging.
This has been, without a doubt, the most challenging part of this whole reboot. Partly because it’s kind of boring (let’s be honest), and partly because I need to test and fine-tune any workflow that I develop, and that requires doing more actual work than I have been lately. But November is coming up (… tomorrow…) and with multiple projects at various stages of completion, next month is going to be a really good opportunity to test some systems. (It’s also going to be a good chance to really work on structuring my time.)

Experiment with productivity and journalling systems, and find something that works for me.
This is definitely where I’m showing the most improvement this week (and in general). I’m still figuring things out, especially when it comes to longer-term planning, but I’ve made progress on the day-to-day. This week has been a really good test—my current todo list setup has kept me (mostly) on track, despite wanting to sleep all the time, so that’s a win.

Finish the work on the office.
I’ve made a little bit of progress on this, but not much. Hoping to make a little more progress today.

Sketchbook #37

Photography, Writing

It’s been two months since I did a general update on how all my creative projects are going, so I’ve got a lot of ground to cover today. And since this day is already shaping up to be kind of awful (they’re rebuilding the balcony below mine, which means noisy generators and sawing through concrete, I’ve got my first serious cold of the season and so my attention span is pretty much nonexistent, and they’re going to be testing the fire alarms at some point today, and that’s always a joy), I’m going to try to make it quick.

When I did my last update, back in August, I was… going through some stuff. I was trying to figure out how to consistently create work—fiction or photography in particular—and get feedback, and not turn the entire thing into a chore.

I’m still working on that. That’s pretty much the driving force behind my reboot—and that’s going well. Still a process, of course, but I really do feel like I’m moving in the right direction.

One thing that’s come up in that work (and I touched on this the other day, but I think it’s relevant here, too), is that my long-term creative goals aren’t nearly clear enough, and that’s making it difficult for me to move forward. Especially in photography. I have some solid medium-term goals for my writing (querying agents, publishing), but when it comes to photography, I know more about what I don’t want to do than what I do want. And when I try to think long-term—five or ten years—things get really vague. I know that I want to be able to support myself through my writing and photography, but beyond that…?

I guess I’m still going through some stuff.

NaNoWriMo 2018 Diary | Prep Week 4

Writing

There’s a little less than a week left before NaNo officially starts, and I’m feeling really good about my story.

If you’re just tuning in, I’m rebelling this year. I’m still aiming for 50,000 words during November, and I’m not counting the words I write before then (obviously), but this year it was much more important that I strike while the iron was hot and start writing my story as soon as I was ready.

That turned out to be Tuesday.

So far, I’m thrilled with the story. The writing itself is still a bit slow—I’m always a bit slow until I find the rhythm—but I’m just about finished the opening scene. And that scene is completely different from the one I’d originally planned, but it’s also a million times better: it’s darker, more atmospheric, and my main character has an unexpected sassy streak that she didn’t demonstrate in either of my previous attempts to write this story. (I also expect it’ll impact this draft in ways I’m not expecting, which should be fun.)

That said, I haven’t made as much progress with my advance writing as I’d hoped. Working out those details, the ones that improved my opening scene so much, took time, and I haven’t had much opportunity to write this week. But that’s fine—this is bonus time, anyway, and it still means I’m not starting November trying to overcome the inertia of starting a draft. And I know that, if I’d waited until next week, I would have just barrelled through, and written the opening scene as I’d originally outlined, and it wouldn’t have been anywhere near as good as it is now. (And I’m not sure I ever would’ve hit on this particular scene, even in rewrites.)

So. About five days to go.

I still haven’t written my synopsis, and I’d like to get that done before I get too far into the story—I mentioned it last year, but it really is remarkable how much that one little step clarified the story for me. I’ve got vague plans to make some kind of moodboard for the story, just as an experiment (usually I just throw things on a private Pinterest board that I never look at again. I’d like to see if having something that’s both more concentrated and more tangible helps).

And, of course, I want to find the flow of the writing itself. That’s the important bit.

How is your NaNo prep going? Are you ready for next week? (And… have you ever made a moodboard/aesthetic for a story? If you have any advice, I’d love to hear it. I have no idea what I’m doing.)

(Don’t forget: I’m always looking for writing buddies! Feel free to add me, and, if you’d like, say ‘hi!’ via NaNo mail. I’m usually available for motivation or commiseration.)

The 2018 Reboot | Week 7 Check-In

Personal, Productivity

This week, I’ve been thinking about my big goals.

Not the big things I’m trying to accomplish right now, or even my one-year goals (though there has been some of that), but the big goals. The things that stretch out over five or ten years. And I’m starting to realize that I don’t really know what those goals are. Or… it’s kind of hard to describe. I can picture exactly what I want my life to look like in that time, what I want it to feel like, but beyond that, it’s a bit of a blur. It makes actually planning for that future difficult, if not impossible. I’m limited to taking steps that feel like they’re going in the right direction, without really knowing what the finish line looks like.

Basically, I’ve realized that I’ve been thinking tactically, rather than strategically. I haven’t defined my goals clearly enough, so I have no way of knowing whether those tactics are, in fact, moving me any closer to where I ultimately want to be.

This is a really good thing.

Not the fact of it, obviously, but that I’m realizing it, and that I’m realizing it now, when I’m already primed to make changes. I’m already taking the steps to improve the day-to-day, and I’m going to keep going with that, but I’m also going to start clarifying the long-term. Once I do that, I’ll be able to fine-tune my day-to-day tactics to support my long-term strategy.

Snapshot #112 | 10 Things for 21 October 2018

Personal

Currently…

1. wishing… the cat didn’t like the comfy reading chair I got for the office quite so much. I seriously never get to use it.
2. wondering… what happened to my nice fall weather. I was not ready for snow.
3. realizing… that it’s been years since I made an apple pie. Years. That’s ridiculous, and I have to do something about it.
4. feeling… like I’m close to a breakthrough.
5. trying… to ease back into Twitter.
6. looking… for a good 350mL travel coffee cup. (This is one of those areas where I’m weirdly picky.)
7. realizing… that I’ve got a lot of things I want to do in the next few weeks, and it’s kind of freaking me out.
8. finding… my perfect shirtdress. (In related news, I’m going to start wearing dresses casually again. Really.)
9. loving… the new season of Doctor Who. So much.
10. drinking… all the coffee. 🖤

NaNoWriMo 2018 Diary | Prep Week 3

Writing

The plan was to start writing this week.

That… didn’t happen.

I did finish the character work I had planned; I know who the core group of characters are, and what roles they play in the story. In theory, I could have started writing on Thursday… and I sat down to do just that, but then I realized that I was missing a massive part of my opening scene. It’s not exactly the inciting incident (though I’m not a fan of that term), but it is the thing that triggers that incident.

If that makes any sense.

Anyway, I started brainstorming that thing, which turned into brainstorming some of the backstory that I hadn’t quite figured out yet (specifically, the reason why one of my characters decides to do a thing, even though she knows that it’s going to put her and everyone she cares about in danger). And that very nearly led to revising the entire timeline of the story, but then certain important details (like most of my secondary characters) didn’t make any sense, and… yeah.

I didn’t start writing this week.

However. I did figure out that tricky bit of backstory, in a way that doesn’t break the rest of the story. I figured out how to make the timeline work. And I’ve started to figure out the thing that kicks off the story. I’m not quite there yet, but… I’ve got enough. Not enough to start writing, but enough that, if I let it simmer over the weekend, I should know what’s going on come Monday.

Hopefully.

(Don’t forget: I’m always looking for writing buddies! Feel free to add me, and, if you’d like, say ‘hi!’ via NaNo mail. I’m usually available for motivation or commiseration.)

The 2018 Reboot | Week 6 Check-In

Productivity

I’ve been kind of obsessed with todo lists this week.

I know. Try to contain your excitement.

Really, though, it’s a bit of a dilemma for me. For a long time, my go-to bio on social media included the phrase ‘list-maker,’ right after ‘writer’ and ‘photographer.’ I love a good todo list.

But I have no idea how to make one work for me.

It’s one thing if it’s a specific project, and I can just check things off until I’m done, but in a more general context… no idea. I’ve never found a system that works for me, whether it’s pen-and-paper, or bare-bones digital, or a digital system with all the bells and whistles. I always start with enthusiasm, sure I’ve found the perfect setup, but within a few months, things start slipping, I start putting things off, and then I start looking for the new perfect tool.

(The one exception—in that it really did work for me for about a year—was Habitica. Since I was in a fairly active guild, if I didn’t check things off it affected other people, not just me. But the todo list aspect didn’t actually have all the features I needed (specifically, more customizable repeatable actions).)

I know that it doesn’t really have anything to do with the tools I use. It’s me. (Though I do have a few issues with the Eisenhower matrix. I can see how it’s useful, but… yeah. I might go into detail on that at some point, once I’ve figured out how to articulate my thoughts.)

I need to figure out how to use a to-do list effectively, and how to motivate myself. If nothing else, I know that after a certain point, just checking things off a list doesn’t cut it.

NaNoWriMo 2018 Diary | Prep Week 2

Writing

(Two updates in one week! Madness! Technically, Monday’s update was for last week. From here out, my NaNo updates will happen on Fridays.)

Over the past few days, “almost definitely” has turned into “definitely”—I’m going to be working on Violet Lane this November. I’m not going to wait until the first of the month to start writing, but I am going to aim for 50,000 words during NaNo itself.

My prepwork is moving along nicely again. I’ve spent this week on character work, figuring out exactly who these people are and why they exist in the story. It’s been incredibly helpful; developing original characters with unique voices has always been a challenge for me, and it’s only something I really started to feel confident about when I was preparing for last year’s NaNo. (Which means, of course, that I had no idea what I was doing the first time I tried writing this particular group of people.)

And it’s especially important in this story. It’s an ensemble piece, with multiple POV characters, one of whom is… let’s call her ‘unreliable,’ to be polite. I need to know who these people are, and I need to know them well.

In retrospect, that’s why the first two attempts at telling this story didn’t quite work. In both cases, I knew the plot, and I knew my main character, but the rest of it—all the other characters, the world—was a mystery. And so, the first time, I wound up with a finished draft that was… ok, but it needed far too much work to turn it into something good. The second time, I barely made it through the first chapter before I realized it wasn’t working.

This time, I know the plot. I know my main character. I know what everyone’s trying to accomplish. Hell, I know the theme, and that’s not something I bother with in a first draft, ever.

I still have a few characters to flesh out (like I said: ensemble), but I’m getting there. If everything goes according to plan, I should be able to start writing by the end of next week.

(Don’t forget: I’m always looking for writing buddies! Feel free to add me, and, if you’d like, say ‘hi!’ via NaNo mail. I’m usually available for motivation or commiseration.)

The 2018 Reboot | Week 5 Check-In

Productivity

It’s been a while since I checked in on this little project of mine (here’s the explanation for my absence, if you missed it), but I’m happy to say that it’s only the check-ins that I’ve missed. I haven’t been neglecting the reboot itself, and I’m actually kind of impressed with the progress I’ve made in the past few weeks, despite everything.

Let’s get to the individual goals, shall we?