Let Me Tell You a Story #27: Procrastination

“You must write every single day of your life… You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads… may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.” Ray Bradbury

I’ve been a big proponent in the past of the axiom “write every day,” but I can only rarely fulfill that goal. I’m not a full-time writer–I have a day job. I have family responsibilities. I like to play video games.

During NaNoWriMo each year, with a clear goal in mind (50K or more) and a huge community of support around me, I have no trouble pounding out the word count daily.

Then December hits, and the holiday frenzy begins, and I’m kicking myself for not having time.

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This is what my current progress looks like. And the longer I go between writing sessions, the harder it is to make myself sit down and do it. Why? Because I feel like a failure for not writing every day. Because I’m so far behind I don’t believe I can catch up.

But that’s nonsense, and I know it. When I can make the time, I can pump out the words like my fingers are possessed, flying over the keyboard almost without volition. I’ve written over 7K in one day before (this year’s NaNo); I’ve written 10K in a weekend (when I started the original draft of What We Need to Survive); I once wrote, rewrote, and edited a 12K novelette for a contest in six days, start to finish.

Writing isn’t the problem. It’s the motivation to write that’s coming hard. Even now, I could be working on my project instead of this blog post, which I could just as easily do tomorrow. Or even when I wake up Monday morning, because who would know if I hadn’t just given away that it’s actually Saturday afternoon when I’m writing this?

And the farther behind I fall, the harder it is to feel like the effort means anything.

I don’t think it’s bad to write every day, if it’s something you’re capable of, or something you need to do to keep yourself writing. This isn’t me slagging off at writers who have dedicated writing time each day.

But the longer I try to keep up that sort of discipline myself, the more stifled I feel by it.

Write when you can. If that’s five minutes while dinner is on the stove, or five hours when you have the day off your regular job, it doesn’t matter. Write when you can.

End of the Month Wrap-Up: November 2017!

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In November, in case you missed it (har har) I won NaNoWriMo! I worked on an entirely new project about a small town of non-hierarchical wolf shapeshifters. Two of whom are falling in love.

With the 60K+ I wrote (my non-official count according to the document stats is just about 61K) I’m not even halfway through the story. Not that I think this is necessarily going to be a long, long novel–just that I’m front-loading a lot of angst and worldbuilding that will undoubtedly be shortened, moved, or cut during the editing process.

But as I still have about half the story to go, I’ve got to keep writing! I gave myself the first two days of December off, because breaks are a good thing, but I’m taking advantage of the personal goal trackers one can enable on the NaNo site to institute at least 1K/day throughout December. I should be able to manage that even with holiday shenanigans, and of course I’ll be visiting family for the holidays/my own personal writing retreat for a week mid-December. I’m so productive there!

As for reading, I read twelve books this month, which blows last year’s measly four out of the water. Of course, last year I wasn’t desperately trying to finish Mount TBR – Mount Olympus (Mars): 150 of My Own Damn Books read!

(I actually have finished, as of yesterday, but that’s a separate post since it didn’t happen in November–look for it on Wednesday!)

And now it’s confession time: in November I went to the library twice, and that part of it’s a good thing, since I’ve hardly gone all year due to Mount TBR–the first time I dropped off eight books as a donation, but came home with thirteen more from the book sale room; the second time I was there to pick up a book request I need for this season of Crash Course Literature, but I hit the sale room again and found fourteen more books. And I ordered a few free or 99-cent romances off Amazon. And I have four books from Thriftbooks coming. And I gave my mother a list of about a dozen books I could use for Christmas…

All this has led to me still having acquired more books this year than I read, with the potential for a handful more.

Which means I signed up for Mount TBR 2018, again at the Mars-150 book level. And I’m running the Expand Your Horizons challenge. And I’ve already got an idea list for the PopSugar challenge. And since I’m already doing those three, I suppose I should take a look at the BookRiot Read Harder challenge list, which I skipped this year…

But I definitely missed going to the library, so I’m going to make more room in my reading schedule for that.

Here’s to a successful month, and I hope I have as productive a December, and that all of you do as well!

NaNoWriMo ’17: Progress Report, Week 4–WINNER!

The week’s word counts:

  • Day 22: 470
  • Day 23: 916
  • Day 24: 1,285 — the winning day, at 50,007!
  • Day 25: 1,210
  • Day 26: 2,143
  • Day 27: 2,532
  • Day 28: 2,020

With two days left to write, my final count will come with the End of the Month Wrap-Up post next week, but I won! And I feel like I’m not even halfway through my story–which is both good and bad, because wow, have I got a lot of plot points left. I think this year I successfully embraced the true spirit of word vomit, and I’m churning out lots of my character’s feelings on the page, which is ALL going to need to be cut.

But the first draft is just me telling myself the story, which I’ve heard before, and this time, I really feel it. I’m going to need to take a long look at the themes and character arcs in this one, but I’ve got a sense of direction now beyond just “romance” and I’m digging it.

As before, I’ll do my best to keep up a NaNo-like pace through December (and January, if necessary) to get the draft done.

BUT I WON! I WON!

I really do love NaNo so much…

NaNoWriMo ’17: Progress Report, Week 2

The week’s word counts:

  • Day 8: 1,150
  • Day 9: 2,002
  • Day 10: 1,459
  • Day 11: 2,053
  • Day 12: 4,011
  • Day 13: 1,471
  • Day 14: 2,516

The benefit of being far ahead in the first week is that when real life interferes during the second week, I have a savings account of words I can still dip into.

The total word count at the end of two weeks is 35,590, which is almost 8K ahead of my higher-than-average goal of 2K/day, which is 28K at this point.

If I can keep this pace up, I’ll break my record for wordiest NaNo novel, from 2015!

End of the Month Wrap-Up: October 2017!

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Thanks to a read-a-thon I participated in, and coming down with a terrible fever that kept me home from work for three days in the middle of it, I read an unprecedented 22 books in October.

Twenty. Two. Books.

And I might be able to make it twenty-three, after all, I still have a day left.

I had hoped, after I finished mind-mapping one idea for NaNoWriMo, to squeeze one more development project in, but it didn’t happen. Between a lack of time and the idea not grabbing me very hard, nothing much came of it.

So, for NaNo, wolf-shifter/small-town romance mashup it is! I’m eager to get started, and finally feel like a writer again after treading water most of the year, finishing up one book but not being able to settle on the next project. Here I am, deciding. Let’s all howl at the moon, baby!

In November, Friday posts are still going to be book reviews (I am still going to try to read at least one book a week) and Wednesdays will be my weekly NaNo Progress Reports. Mondays will continue to be the grab bag of whatever thoughts I feel like contributing to the writing world, NaNo-related or otherwise.

Remember, writer buddies: stay healthy and take care of yourself!

Mind-Mapping Goes Digital

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Over the course of my vacation last month, I covered five sheets of notebook paper with mind-map-style notes about one of my possible NaNo projects, a non-hierarchical wolf-shifter-society romance.

As I was working outside of my usual space and without the benefit of a computer, I didn’t mind mapping it all out by hand. But when I got home, I knew that trying to work from paper to screen would irritate me.

Fortunately, around that time, Tumblr introduced me to RealTimeBoard, a free virtual whiteboard app.

From the short introductory videos I watched, the app is clearly geared towards team project collaboration, but as you can see from my consolidated mind-map above, it works perfectly well for single-person projects too. With a little forethought, I managed to plan a layout from the center outwards that incorporated all of my individual maps into one massive, color-coded monstrosity.

As with any new program, the learning curve on using all its features will take a little time–I’m sure I haven’t explored everything yet–but once I got past the initial five minutes of the WTF-does-this-do, I was fine.

And on a more personal level, I discovered I quite like mind-mapping as an outlining tool, and now that I have an app for it, I’ll probably use it again in the future.