The Month That Time Forgot

The very beginning of February started out mildly hopeful, although pretty unproductive. Things quickly deteriorated from there. Without meaning to, I ended up taking a hiatus from writing and just about everything else I meant to do.

I blame it mostly on the weather. Blizzards piling on top of each other had such a strong effect on life in Boston this month that productivity suffered in all areas. I work from home, and so I didn’t have to go out in it or try to grapple with the sad public transportation more than a few times, but it seems to me that the energy of the city is frustrated and exhausted, which didn’t help me to feel more motivated. There were also a few social distractions, but that took a much smaller percentage of time than complaining about the weather did.

There was also the somewhat significant matter of not knowing what to write. When I hit a point in the story I had been writing where it just did not want to go any further, and I decided to take a break from it, I didn’t have another project lined up to work on instead. That, I guess, was a mistake. The few times I really made an effort to figure out what I wanted to do, I got nowhere. The creative juices are not flowing.

(Ever think about how weird that phrase is? It’s so weird. I don’t think people should say it anymore.)

As for the writing challenge, which I still intend to complete, I’m now about 30,000 words behind because of my lack of productivity. One thousand words a day is not actually very much if you keep up with it, but it’s a lot to catch up on if you miss more than a few days. Luckily, I still have ten months to go, which is plenty of time if I can make March go better. The way I see it, if I continue to get absolutely nothing done and write just a few words here and there, I can last through May before I’m beyond hope of reaching the end goal of 365,000 words. I am determined to do better than that, and to write much more regularly and hopefully in larger quantities (I’ll worry about quality when I get to editing), so I have plenty of time to catch up.

I also know that many of the ideas for stories and blog posts or internet articles need to be written soon, or I will completely lose track of them. Whether they end up being fit for a reader’s eyes is another question. For now, it’s time to get back into writing! Winter isn’t over yet but spring is closer than any of us think, I’d say. The urge to hibernate has (mostly) passed, and I believe that I can actually get things done as we move out of this blip of a month.

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Toil and Trouble

In so many ways, February was a bust. I generally look forward to February, but I don’t usually expect to get all that much done. There’s always something distracting about the month… when I was in school it was winter vacation (and wanting to spend as much time in leisure activities as possible), in college it was the end of Field Work Term and the beginning of Spring term.

I didn’t reach my goals for the daily average. I only wrote during a minority of the total days in February, and the end result barely works out to over a page a day. It’s pathetic, if I think about how much I could have gotten done. I had a lot of days of uselessness. I am planning to let it go and focus on writing more from this point so that I can finish at least most of the book by my deadline of tax day. I will publish this book this year. I have decided. But, as usual, I’m behind, so I’ll need to find a way to guarantee productivity…

And then there’s Morning Pages. Remember how I mentioned that I often forgot about them? Well, I forgot about them for approximately two whole weeks – maybe longer. I was keeping my Morning Pages journal downstairs to use while I waited for my coffee to brew. It ended up under the living room table with a pile of my things and I completely forgot it was there. I guess it will take slightly longer than I thought to build up that habit. I will prevail tomorrow!

 

Now for the life front. In case you wondered, I am still looking for a job. My work at the moment is minimal. I barely get calls and I can’t take all the shifts I’m offered, so I am making a sad excuse for an income at the moment. There seems to be a high likelihood that because I’ve been in this situation for so long, possible employers won’t see any evidence that I can do well working full time in an office… but I think that part of the reason I’ve been so unproductive is that the work I have now never challenges me enough to wake up my brain. I need challenges other than constant stress about finances. Don’t we all?

Someone is always out there to tell you some version of “you create your circumstances.” I am sure there is some truth or other to that, but there are a lot of things I can’t control. I can’t help that what I want isn’t practical at the moment, and the employers that should be recognizing someone worth hiring keep overlooking me… it never used to take me so long to come across the right path. Now it seems like I’m very lost. What’s up with that?

Mid-month update

Since I don’t have any new writing to post, it’s time for Another Update. Here we go.

As I probably already knew, I haven’t kept up with my February Challenge. At this point it’s very unlikely my final Daily Average will reach 5 pages. I’ll be lucky if it ends up being 3 per day, and I seriously doubt I’ll have 100 pages by the end of the month. However, if I’m better about sitting down and writing for the rest of the month, and have at least finished the exposition part of the plot by the 28th, I’ll be happy with the final result. I have great faith that I’ll meet my “deadline” of tax day. My first draft is likely to need a lot of work, but I still plan to publish the ebook of Sleeping Beauty this year. Assuming I can find an editor who’s willing to wait a while to be paid…

 

And how are my morning pages coming, you ask? About 50%. I think it’s going to take a while to get into the habit. I’m still forgetting a lot of the time, and I don’t wake up 15 minutes earlier when I have to leave early in the morning for work. I’m doing slightly better now than I had been, remembering more often. As to the usefulness of it, that has yet to be determined. Maybe that takes a while to kick in, too.

Progress Update

Or, as I think describes it more accurately, lack-of-progress update.

My first week of Morning Pages did not really go that well. The very first morning after I had decided to do it, I forgot about it until sometime in the afternoon. The next day I did them, but the day after I had to go to work early and didn’t want to wake up 15 minutes earlier to have a chance to do Morning Pages. I’ve done them more than 50% of the time, but I’m still not doing them every day. It will take more getting used to, and perhaps a more regular work schedule, to do that. If I remember later in the day, it’s too late to do them. There is a reason you’re supposed to do this when you first wake up, before you do other things.

So far, when I have done the Morning Pages, they haven’t made me more productive that day. It probably takes a while to kick in.

In addition, I have not kept up with my February Challenge so far. I’m on page 5, while I should be on page 20 or so by now. I didn’t expect to stick to it the entire month, but I did think I’d be excited enough about the project to get a good start on the goals I had set. I’m not entirely sure why I haven’t…

I was thinking about imagery, and how I sometimes get feedback about needing more detail. I have to ask: if you know that a character is walking a path through the woods, is it so hard to envision someone walking through the woods without being told exactly what every inch of his environment looks like? Maybe this is a product of my upbringing, but if I’m reading about people in the woods, I don’t have any trouble picturing them. Perhaps my picture is not exactly the same as the author’s but the basics are there. Any important details should certainly be specifically related, but why should I spend time describing generic forest when the character’s thoughts as he walks seem more important to me? Besides, don’t you ever get tired of having everything described in great detail? I think it creates a dense and difficult tome, at times cumbersome to read.

The February Challenge

Tomorrow begins a month exactly four weeks long. An entire month of 2011 has gone by and I’ve barely written at all. I have goals for this year. I have to set myself deadlines and ignore the fact that they have no significance whatsoever to anyone but me. (That’s my problem with deadlines. I can be very productive if I have a real deadline, but without any concrete reason to finish the project, it doesn’t feel like a real deadline.)

I’m hoping that I can power through that problem, because I’ve set myself a goal I very much hope I can stick to. I plan to devote the month of February to Sleeping Beauty As You’ve Never Known It. My plan involved a daily writing average of 5 pages per day. There will be some days during which I will have to write more than 5 pages, because there are likely to be days when I barely have time to write at all, either due to social plans or work.

Let’s say that the average, at the end of the month, actually did come out to exactly 5 pages a day for 28 days. That makes 140 pages, at which point I’ll probably be close to finishing the story. My somewhat arbitrary deadline for having my first draft finished is Tax Day.

Somewhere during that time, I will probably need to find an unofficial editor. I am quite capable of doing my own line editing, but I would benefit a lot from an extra pair of eyes to point out any plot holes or areas of unclarity, or spots where a little more detail would go a long way. It’s hard to spot such things in your own writing. Of course, I wouldn’t be able to pay anyone until I made some money from publishing the story, so they’d have to be willing to wait a while to receive what’s due to them.

And here’s the preliminary character lineup of the moment. Some do not yet have names.

The Sleeping Beauty

Ric – the main character (Sleeping Beauty’s ‘prince’)

Adra – Ric’s mother. Pronounced with short ‘a’ sounds.

Henry – the town inkeeper.

Elli – a fairy (this is a shortened version of her name)

A Bard

 

The story has not yet been titled, but its final title will not be “Sleeping Beauty”