Monday, June 17, 2024

Weekly Goals, Week 25: Setbacks and Recoveries

Last week was a week of wild swings.  On Tuesday my horse, Panama, didn't drink all day.  We discovered him dehydrated and uncomfortable at 10pm, and spent the next five hours coaxing mashes into him. I'm pretty sure that we narrowly avoided a recurrence of his near-death experience two years ago, but thankfully we did avoid it, even if it cost us an evening's plans and a good night's sleep.

Since I've been mostly working on my novel late in the day, I didn't work on my novel at all that night, breaking my daily writing streak.  And since the next day was mostly spent at a pair of morning doctor's appointments, mashing Panama again, napping to recover from the lack of sleep, visiting with Zac's family that was in town for the week, and mashing Panama again, I didn't end up working on my novel on Wednesday either.

Fortunately I got caught up on my Camp NaNo novel in a big way on Thursday, and have maintained the daily habit ever since.  But that was pretty much all I got done last week.  I never was able to make time to work on the doll room, let alone organize a sale.

It was a wild week, though, and pretty busy between our concerns about Panama's health and several days' worth of plans with Zac's extended family while they were in town.  All in all, I'm glad last week is over, even though this week likely isn't going to be much better.  Less family, but lots of catchup.

  1. Work on my novel every day until finished
  2. Work on organizing the doll room
  3. Get organized and sell

You'll see that my goals are essentially the same as last week's and the week's before that, except for the wording of the sales goal.  I decided that putting all the pressure on a single sale may have been making me feel like it had to be this big, perfectly organized event.  Instead, I'm going to try to do some smaller listings throughout the week, and if I can get organized in time, a big sale on the weekend.  But at least if I can get some smaller listings up, I can start chipping away at the stuff I need to sell.

As for my novel, I made some decisions regarding the plot that mean I'm not as close to being done as I thought.  I will be rewriting much of the flashback material that I already wrote so that it fits into the story a little better, and adding a little to the story to flesh out the climax and ending.  I have a bad habit of taking shortcuts to the end, and I want this novel to be satisfying rather than just finished.  Hopefully I'll still finish by the end of June, though, so that I can get back to work on Ruby Ransome in July's Camp NaNoWriMo.

Hopefully this week is productive and goes well, as next week we'll be house sitting for Zac's parents and everything will be thrown for a loop yet again.

Friday, June 14, 2024

Camp Sandwich Catchup

I'm pleased to say that after my long post yesterday regarding my broken daily writing streak, I ended up getting a lot done on my novel.  I picked up where I'd left off, made significant headway, and stopped writing with a good sense of where I'll be going from here.

I think it made a big difference that I started writing earlier in the day.  I usually end of up waiting too long and then trying to squeeze a little writing time in at the very end of the day.  I used to choose this as my writing time as I would feel most energized at night, but lately I just want to read and wind down for the night.  So I need to start working on it earlier.  Even around or a little after dinner time would be fine.  I just am not doing much daily writing when I wait until I only have 20 or 30 minutes to write before I get ready for bed.

I also realized in all my writing yesterday that much of my earlier backstory, which I'd intended to use as flashback material, will need to be rewritten or thrown out.  That means I actually have a significant amount of writing still left to do, and I will not be done as early as I thought.  While I'd hoped to get back to work on Ruby Ransome during July Camp, I'm actually okay with continuing to work on Amnesia if I'm not done with it yet by then.  I want to get the first draft as right as possible, so I'm not having to fix a lot of holes with the second draft.

Currently I'm at 89,317 words, and my daily word count needed to reach my goal of 90,000 by the end of the month (the end of my goal) is an amusing 40 words.  I'll be writing more than that per day, obviously.  But I figure I'm actually at about 62,000 words if you don't count the backstory stuff I wrote earlier on.  That means I'm about two-thirds through the novel, which seems about right for where I'm at in the story.  (Maybe a little less than two-thirds, if it ends up longer than 90,000 words once finished, or if I tighten earlier in the story, where I feel like some of the stuff drags on a bit.)

I'm debating on whether to correct the inaccurate (if I discard a bunch) word count between my Camp Sandwich and July Camp projects, but then again, maybe that will make it more difficult to see my progress across multiple projects.  So maybe I'll just increase my goal in July to account for the 27,000 ish words I plan to discard or rewrite.

I guess that's all assuming I don't finish the novel in June, as I may very well still do.  If I think I'm going to finish in June, I could also increase the current goal to reflect that change.  If I increase it to 120,000, that makes my new daily goal 1,800 words, which is a lot to write every day... so yeah, the finishing of this novel may spill over into the July Camp.

Unless I keep having days like yesterday!

Thursday, June 13, 2024

Daily Writing Streak Broken :(

After nearly two months of doing at least something on my novel every day, from about mid-April during Camp NaNoWriMo all the way to this past Monday, my streak finally broke.

To be fair, it wasn't my fault, and if it wasn't for the events of this week I don't think it would have happened at all.  Tuesday we had a very full day, and got to the barn at 10pm to grain my horses, only to find that one of them - Panama, the one who was very sick two years ago and needed a lot of care - had eaten free-feed hay all day without drinking on the hottest day of the year so far, and was very dehydrated and uncomfortable.

So we spent the next five hours walking him, coaxing mashes into him, and monitoring him for hydration, poop, and how he was feeling.  It took a while, but over time we got a total of almost 5 gallons of water into him, plus he pooped twice and peed once.  He was obviously feeling much better, too, so we felt pretty good at that point about leaving him.

I had been waiting until evening to work on my novel since we had so much going on during the day, so obviously didn't write that night.  It was after 4am before we got in bed, and I didn't sleep until nearly 5am, since I read for a while to calm myself down.

Yesterday was another busy day, this time on an extreme shortage of sleep, but we still made it over to the barn to mash Panama a couple times.  All the horses were obviously still quite full from the day before, and were eating their dinner very slowly; perhaps because of this, Panama didn't eat the entire mash we offered him around 4pm (they get fed dinner at 2pm).  He seemed very sleepy and was well hydrated, so I wasn't too worried, but we still went back later to mash him again, and that one he ate very well.

When we went out there to mash him early this afternoon, before dinner this time, he ate with gusto and actually hollered for his mash, something he hadn't been doing the last few days.  He's normally super vocal, so it was a good sign that he was back to that behavior today.

I felt so bad about not writing on Tuesday, but there was really nothing for it.  Last night I opened up the Scrivener project and refreshed my memory on where I was and what I intended to write next, but I was exhausted from Tuesday night and a lack of sleep, so I didn't work on it.

While logically I know it's okay that I wasn't able to write for a couple days, that sometimes other things have to take precedence, I still feel disappointed and slightly worried that I will have a hard time picking the habit back up.  For me, part of the daily writing habit is not making excuses or exceptions, because once I stop writing every day, it's far too easy to let the habit slip and eventually forget about it entirely.

So tonight I need to make sure that I work on my novel at some point, no matter what.  Even if it's just a little bit, to get back into the habit and refamiliarize myself with where I was in the story.

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

What Is Writers Block?

I started my current novel, Amnesia, at the very end of March, right before Camp NaNoWriMo.  Two and a half months later, I've almost reached my word count goal, and I'm figuring out the final scenes and the placement of flashbacks.  Not bad for a novel that started with just an idea for an opening scene, and no idea where it would go from there.

I don't often feel a true "writers block," which I interpret as not knowing what to write.  You know, the feeling that has you staring at the blank page or blinking cursor and having nothing to write.  Maybe it's thanks to NaNoWriMo or maybe it's just because of how I write, but I've always been able to write something.  Even if I later change it, it's words on the page.  I've always felt that way, even before I discovered the NaNoWriMo culture.

What I do sometimes struggle with is motivation, and this is in all areas of my life, not just writing.  Finding time to write when I'm not feeling motivated is difficult for me, especially when I have a lot else going on to fill my time.

Since the start of Camp NaNoWriMo in April, I've made it my goal to work on my novel at least a little every day, and for the most part this has gone very well.  Even if one day I don't feel motivated, I at least open up my Scrivener project and write a few words.  Sometimes that's been a very few words (a few bad days, it was actually one word), and sometimes I do something else, such as getting caught up on research I've been meaning to do.  Sometimes writing a few words leads to a few more and a few more, until I've written more than I had expected or hoped for.  Other times, just opening the project and looking at it helps to keep it more present in my mind every day.

But for the most part, I haven't experienced too much of this until last week.  Last week, there were a few days where I really, honestly struggled.

It wasn't that I didn't know what to write; it was that I'd decided where the end was going, and realized I was going to have to change my plan somewhat.  That was going to involve rearranging and even rewriting some of the scenes I'd already written while skipping around (which is not something I usually do, but I was inspired to write the material for the flashbacks before I knew how I was going to end the story).

In other words, it was going to be a lot harder than just sitting down and letting words flow.  And I was feeling a lack of motivation just in general during that time, so that didn't help.

One day I just opened the project up and went through the scenes, thinking about how to do what I wanted to do.

I didn't write that day, but thinking paid off, and the next day I rearranged some scenes and got it all ready.

Neither day produced words, but I gave myself credit for "writing" those days anyway, since it was still progress.

The third day I started working on writing the new scenes within the new framework, and rewriting what needed to be rewritten.  Each day I write a little more, and I have faith that I'll get past this rough patch and when I do, the story will be better for it.

It's been slow work, and admittedly, some days I haven't worked on it for very long.  But I don't see it as writer's block, just a rough patch that I need to keep pushing through to get to the other side.

What about you?  Do you get writer's block, and what form does it take for you?

Monday, June 10, 2024

Weekly Goals, Week 24: Plugging Along

Last week started off strong.  I got lots of work done the first few days on both my novel and in the doll room.  My "Tuesday bump" (what I'm calling the usual surge in word count that I get from our weekly write-in) wasn't quite as strong as in previous weeks, but it wasn't bad, either.  And I got a couple good afternoons' worth of work done inventorying the Ginger dolls.

I also did a photo shoot at the museum for a social media reel I'm planning, and that took two afternoons and about 6 hours of work, between the photography and videography and the video editing.

But after midweek, my momentum flagged, and I didn't get much else done, besides a token effort on my novel every day.

Part of it was that I hit a rough patch with the novel, which I'll write more about in my next post.  I hadn't really hit a rough patch yet, despite how far I've gotten in the novel, so I'm not entirely surprised, but the timing was unfortunate.

I think I also may have burned myself out a bit on the doll projects (both mine and the museum's) early on in the week.  Even when work is something I enjoy, it can become overwhelming to me and burn me out if I work too intensely for too long.  It's a wonderful zone to be in while I'm getting stuff done, but it can make it difficult to regain focus afterward.  I used to call the after effects a productivity hangover.

The one thing I didn't get to last week (again) was the sale.  We got a small reprieve and were able to push it back another week to allow me some more time to get organized.

I'm still trying the same approach that I discussed last week and focusing on fewer projects, so my list looks just like last week's:

  1. Work on my novel every day until finished
  2. Work on organizing the doll room
  3. Prep and run a sale

It's probably going to look more or less the same for a while, as the doll room is bound to be a long term project, and writing every day will just be replaced with a different novel once this draft is finished.

Tuesday, June 04, 2024

NaNoWriMo Camp Sandwich: The Tuesday Bump

Earlier this year, we set up a standing write-in with one of our biggest supporters for the Denver region of NaNoWriMo.  Write-ins during NaNoWriMo in November are always so motivating and helpful for staying on track, that I figured I could stand to harness that momentum year-round.

We started the write-in along with the beginning of Camp NaNoWriMo in April, and so far it's been going really well.  In fact, while it helps me to stay on track the rest of the week, I usually write nearly as much (or a little more) on write-in days as I do the rest of the week combined.  I've been affectionately calling it the Tuesday bump, since you can see the dramatic increase in word count every Tuesday.

This screenshot of my graph is from before I worked on my novel yesterday, but you can clearly see when the past three write-ins were:

This one is the daily word count graph, but again, you can pick out the write-in days pretty easily.  (Plus, you can see Sunday's small "aha" moment, which I mentioned in my week 23 goals post.)

I don't know that the weekly write-in has been entirely responsible for keeping me going on this novel, but it has definitely helped.  Getting that massive word count bump every Tuesday helps me make more progress than I would be making otherwise, for one thing.  But the weekly standing write-in also helps me to keep the novel at the forefront of my mind, making it easier to stick to my goal of writing every day.  Without the weekly write-in, I'm pretty sure I would have taken "just one day" off by now, which would have turned into more, which would have turned into not working on the novel anymore.

Instead, I'm nearly finished with (and thoroughly enjoying) this novel.  When I took those screenshots yesterday, I had 78,601 words.  I wrote another 1,668 last night, hitting 80,000 (80,269).  And today is Tuesday, which means (you guessed it!) probably another considerable bump in word count is coming later this evening. 

So you could probably say that the Tuesday bump has saved this novel, and possibly Ruby as well, although the latter still remains to be seen.  I've always been a strong advocate for using NaNoWriMo to create lasting writing habits, but now I have to say, I recommend year-round motivators as well.  Whatever those might be for you, find them and utilize them!

Monday, June 03, 2024

Weekly Goals, Week 23: Rethinking My Goals

Last week I blogged about how I've felt like two major projects may be my max at one time.  This revelation may have implications for how I plan my weekly goals every week.

I'm not talking about small, one-off projects, like taking a quick photo or cleaning up the kitchen, although I'm also learning that I can't overload myself on those, either.  But for the purpose of my weekly goals posts, I'm talking about larger, long-term projects that require sustained focus and multiple sessions to get anything done.

In other words, I'm talking about the kind of projects that I list as weekly goals.

Last week was pretty productive.  I got lots of organizing done, working towards my goal of organizing and inventorying my entire Ginger collection, plus working on other doll spaces and storage in and around my doll room.  There is a lot to do there; I'm trying to resolve years' worth of neglect and turn it into a dream doll setup, and it's not going to be easy or fast.

I also got a lot done on my novel, though I think I forgot to track some of it, so it shows as only about three hours for the week.  Given that I wrote 3,700 words on Tuesday alone, and that I'm pretty sure I wrote more once I got home from the write-in that day even though Toggl doesn't reflect it, I'm fairly certain I forgot to track a bunch.

Currently I'm sitting pretty at 78,601 words.  My goal is 90,000 but I'm fairly certainly I'll overshoot that initially.  Even so, I don't have that much left to write, and I had another "aha!" moment last night for how the rest of the story is going to pull together.

With all of this in mind, here are my goals for this week:

  1. Work on my novel every day until finished
  2. Work on organizing the doll room
  3. Prep and run a sale

You'll notice I've added the words "until finished" on the end of my usual writing goal.  I don't think I'll finish the novel this week, but I anticipate finishing it soon.  My tentative goal is by midway through the month, to give me time to shift gears and work on Ruby Ransome in July's session of Camp NaNoWriMo.

You'll also notice that the sale, which didn't happen last week, has been carried over to this week.  I made a conscious decision last week that I wanted a little more time to organize before holding the sale.  I really want to be sure to do it this weekend though, as both the income and the space are becoming more important as time goes on.

It'll be a busy week for sure, but if everything continues going the way the last few weeks have gone, it'll be a fairly successful week as well.


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