End of the Month Wrap-Up: April 2020!

kinga-cichewicz-5NzOfwXoH88-unsplash

I’m going to keep this short; as I’m writing this, I’m in the process of recovering from Covid-19, and even if I’m not suffering the insane levels of fatigue I did at the start, I still get worn out pretty easily.

(Yes, I have it, and yes, it’s a mild case. I am able to isolate, I haven’t required medical attention, and though I won’t be tested unless something new goes wrong, I’m 99% sure that’s what sent me to bed for most of this week.)

I read 16 books in April.

I made no significant progress on any of my writing projects (including keeping up with blog posts that weren’t my book reviews.)

I was doing great at exercising, running three times a week, until I got sick. I hope to resume that soon, but I know I’ve got to give my lungs some time to rest first. In a few days (hopefully) I’ll meet the CDC criteria for ending my isolation and can at least start taking walks.

I have also done a lot of knitting and watching TV.

May Goals: Read lots–the TBR post is coming Wednesday. Keep knitting. Try to write again, ideally on Fifty-Five Days, because it’s frustrating to be so near the end of a project (or at least one of its stages) but not have the mental energy to work on it. Get back to walking/running. Bake more things!

End of the Month Wrap-Up: February 2020!

wool-143923_1280

I read fifteen books and only DNF’d one of them! Go me!

Work continues at a decent clip on Fifty-Five Days, a.k.a. #rockstarnovel. I hit a rough patch last week when I was too sick to do much, but that happens, and the deadline I gave myself (end of March) is reasonably generous without letting me slack off too much. I feel confident I’ll have this draft done on time.

Honestly, I didn’t do any better this month than January on my exercise or drawing goals. I’m no happy about that, but I’m not going to beat myself up about it, either. I am trying to do a lot right now, probably too much.

I actually switched out my video game time this past month, mostly, for crafting time. I purged my wardrobe of the stuff I wasn’t wearing, assessed what was left, and started filling in some of the blanks with thrifted items, which involved a decent amount of sewing and alterations. Also, I picked up my knitting needles again and started my Christmas gift knitting, plus I have reclaimed a few thrift-store sweaters, turning them back into yarn I can knit myself! So that explains why I wasn’t making time for drawing.

The more I examine my long-term goals for creating daily habits, the more I see that my tendency towards enthusiasm/obsession/hyperfocus means that I do something intensely for a few days to a few weeks, then drop it for something else entirely. Which isn’t bad in and of itself, but is pretty antithetical to the “a little progress every day” mindset that would help me exercise/draw/write more consistently. Though I do still write nearly every day!

So, with that in mind, goals for March:

  1. Run/walk three times a week. If running seems like too much, as it has recently, walking is okay. Anything is better than nothing, right?
  2. Finish the Fifty-Five Days rewrite.
  3. Spend at least an hour a week drawing. Even if I have to schedule it!
  4. Read all the books in my TBR for the challenges and hopefully at least two or three more.
  5. General crafting stuff: Get at least two things out of my mending/altering pile and back into my closet. Keep knitting the shawl I started, though I don’t know whether I’ll finish it in March or not. Knit at least one more drawstring bag for gift-giving.
  6. Post all blog posts (after this one, which is a few hours late) on time! I’ve been slacking about this!

End of the Month Wrap-Up: January 2020!

david-klein--94oJK3PDQw-unsplash

A good and productive month in some ways, not so much in others.

I read 18 books. Yes, I DNF’d four of them at various points, but still, that’s an outstanding month for me. I blame my enthusiasm for starting a fresh year of challenges!

I made my self-imposed mid-month deadline for rereading #rockstarnovel and all the note-taking that required, to organize the rewriting phase, which I’ve started since. I’m almost a quarter of the way through already, just counting by chapters complete, so I’m ahead of the pace I need, in theory, to meet my next deadline for finishing this draft: the end of March.

I barely exercised at all, I admit it. I ran once, I went for a few walks, I did no yoga. Running in winter in Michigan is a difficult proposition, and I was hoping to really push myself this season, and it didn’t happen. (I did run yesterday, since it was above freezing, but that’s February!)

I was also diligent about practicing my drawing at least every other day, for the first weeks of the month, but as I spent more time writing I had difficulty making time for art. The good news is, with a year-long goal, I can use each monthly wrap-up to assess my progress and what I can do to make it easier for myself to keep up.

So the goals for February are as follows:

  1. Read all the books on my challenge TBR and hopefully at least two or three others;
  2. Get at least halfway through the #rockstarnovel rewrite;
  3. Spend time drawing every day (as often as possible) or at least every other day;
  4. Run three times a week (under reasonable weather conditions, so that’s flexible);
  5. And on the video game front, replay the beginning of, then finally finish, Kentucky Route Zero because the final episode dropped after many, many years of waiting.

End of the Month Wrap-Up: November 2019!

Writing: Since I just made a post about NaNoWriMo two days ago, I won’t rehash it here other than to say¬†I won! and pat myself on the back one more time. In the “other” writing category, I was more consistent about blog posts than I had been (at least in the sense of putting them up a day late when necessary, rather than skipping them entirely) and I intend to be more diligent about that in the future.

Reading: With my increased project-management skills for NaNo this year, I had more time to read even as I was getting my writing done every day. I read fifteen books in November, a good turnout for a regular month and a fantastic amount for November. (The fewest I’ve read in a November since I started tracking was in 2015, when I only read three books. Which for me is pretty much nothing.) In addition, I finished Mount TBR 2019, set this year at 100 of My Own Damn Books, and the PopSugar 2019 Reading Challenge. I have one year-long challenge left to go, Virtual Mount TBR, 48 books from my TBR that I don’t own (and thus get from the library or borrow from friends,) but I only have one to go, so, pshh, easy peasy.

Crafting: I did not bother to take a new picture of the giant cross-stitch project, because I did not work on it. I haven’t ignored my crafty side completely, I’ve just been busy with Christmas gifts instead, which I won’t enumerate just in case the family members receiving them are still reading this blog. Which I’m almost certain they aren’t, but what a stupid way to spoil something! I’m taking that project with me for the traditional New Year’s visit to my husband’s family, so there will be progress made before the next update, I swear.

Exercise: I was doing great with my running, going out consistently three times a week no matter the weather, even upgrading some of my cold-weather running gear. Then I got sick, because this year’s cold and flu season is already vicious. I haven’t been running since, and I got lazy about yoga again. As soon as my lingering congestion clears up, though, I’ll be back at it.

General mental health: It’s been a good month, coming near the end of a year filled with lots of positive changes. That’s not to say I haven’t been stressed or had days where I felt down, but I can say pretty confidently that both my depression and anxiety symptoms are easing up, and that I’m looking forward to a lot I plan to do in December and in 2020. Things really do get better!

End of the Month Wrap-Up: October 2019!

So I was so completely obsessing about NaNo and dealing with extra hours at work that I forgot to make a monthly wrap up post for October!

Here we go:

Writing was mostly limited to NaNo prep, feeling vaguely guilty about failing to rewrite #spookyromancenovel, putting some effort into it anyway by collating my beta reader feedback from the various channels it used to reach me, and writing blog posts. Not a productive month, but they can’t all be. November is going much better so far.

Reading! I read twelve books, only DNF’d one of them. I am ONE book away from having read all of the books I acquired in 2016, so before the end of the year I shall briefly reduce my backlog gap from three years to two, only to have it bounce right back up in 2020 when I need to finish off the many, many 2017 books I haven’t gotten to. I am making progress on all three of my yearly challenges as well, and might conceivably finish them all by the end of November, leaving December free to read whatever the hell I want and tick those Mount TBR/Virtual Mount TBR numbers higher.

NTS 11-1-19.jpg

Crafting: I did not, in fact, keep up my pace with the cross stitch project, though I did make some progress since the last photograph, at least. Look, I had to move the hoop!

In fact, I haven’t touched it in weeks, because I do things in phases and devoting myself to a project that long-term is going to generate a few bumps in the road. Also, working with that many shades of nearly identical green does require good lighting, and Michigan in fall/winter is not the best for sunlight. I will pick it up again soon. If not during NaNo, then definitely in December when I’ve got my yearly family visit and I’ll need crafting to keep me busy on the car trip and in whatever down time we’re all sitting around chatting/watching television. What will I do instead? Get to crafting the Christmas presents I’ve been ignoring all year to make or do other things, of course! What would the holiday season be without the last-minute gift making rush?

Exercise! Here, I’ve been doing exceptionally well (for me, anyway.) I have been running three times a week consistently since the last week of September. I challenged myself to finally set a PR for a 5K run, and I did, though it’s not a great time and I feel no need to share it until I’ve improved it somewhat. I’m slowly upgrading my running gear to be more cold-weather appropriate. I’ve been exploring different nature trails than the ones I usually run. I feel like a real runner again. A beginner, but not a terrible one. It’s a great feeling. I intend to run as much as safely possible through the winter, a feat I’ve never attempted before.

 

End of the Month Wrap-Up: September 2019!

bread-2755097_1280

As my post history clearly shows, I wasn’t around much in September. I put in a lot of extra hours at work, didn’t do much writing, didn’t make much progress on the new revision draft of #spookyromancenovel, didn’t have much to share. I was in a slump.

So what did I do? Well, I still read a fair bit, though nothing like my August reading. I read and reviewed eleven books. I’m down to just one book left from the huge amount (over 300!) that I acquired in 2016 and have been trying to catch up with ever since–the remaining one just happens to be book #7 in a long series (the Realms of the Elderlings) and I’m currently reading #5 to get myself there. Definitely will make it by the end of the year. I’m closing in on my numerical goals for Mount TBR (83/100) and Virtual Mount TBR (41/48), so I should have no problem finishing those, too. I have 11 tasks left (of 50) for the PopSugar Reading Challenge, so I’m just ahead of pace there, as well. As I’m not participating in any monthly reading challenges specifically for October, as I have been the last several months, my plan is to prioritize PopSugar instead.

What else? The bread picture above is not mine–thank you, Pixabay–but is in honor of my new sourdough starter. I named him Cameron. He’s a week old and I’ve yet to make any bread from him, but I have used some of his feeding-discard to make brownies (I know that sounds strange but it works!) and they turned out perfectly delicious.

IMG_20191001_141218523

Also a week old is my new cross-stitch project, and it’s a big one. It’s full-coverage (a stitch for every square) and I can say, thanks to the chart and some basic math, that it’s exactly 53,704 stitches. In the week since I started, I’ve done just over 1200–the benefit of working in 10 x 10 squares is I can easily track my progress. If I can keep up this pace (which I highly doubt, because I’ve been doing this in place of at least some of my writing time) I could be finished in as little as 45 weeks, or less than a year–but in reality, this will take me more than a year to finish and will be, by far, my largest attempted cross-stitch piece.

No, I’m not going to tell you what it is yet. Yes, the corner I’ve started is almost entirely green and gives you very little to go on. I think I’ll include new pics monthly in these updates–that will motivate me to keep working on it–so you’ll just have to live in suspense.

As for exercise, I’m getting over a serious fever now that’s kept me nearly bed-bound for three days, but before that, I set a new record for my yoga practice, 23 days in a row. (My previous record was 17, set last year when I originally bought the app. I don’t think I’ve managed more than nine or ten days without a gap since then.) So I’ve broken it with this illness, which is a shame, but either later today, if I’m feeling more energetic, or tomorrow morning at the latest, I’ll start a new attempt. If I’m diligent I could be reporting a new record, or better yet, a continuing streak, next month!

As for writing…

Well. Fictober19 starts today, and I have mixed feelings about participating in it. I began #spookyromancenovel a year ago today, and it’s been through two draft cycles and a beta read and that’s great, but you all know I’m disappointed it needs so much more work than I’d anticipated before it’s ready for publishing. I could knuckle down and get back to that, and part of me says I should. The rest of me says I clearly need more of a break, and wouldn’t Fictober/NaNo be a great time to try to draft its apparent sequel? I’ve got a good bit of it plotted already, though I set down that planning project as the end of the #srn beta neared and I thought I’d be working on that again. But I already know I work well from daily prompts, and I don’t have another idea lined up for NaNo, so what’s the harm in trying, right?

Or I could pick up one of several unfinished first drafts I have sitting in a (digital) pile and tackle finishing those, or rewriting good old #rockstarnovel, which I still adore, and still think about often, and despair of ever being satisfied with. It’s got so much potential, but it’s so, so different from any of my other works.

After I throw this post up, I’m going to take a shower and make myself some tea, then sit back down at my desk and write something. It may be Fictober-related. It may be me trying to finish a chapter from a long-ignored work. It may just be another blog post, because ideally I want to keep my usual schedule through October, which means I need one for tomorrow.

Whatever it ends up being, I’m determined to come out of this health-and-writing slump and be happily productive again. Wish me luck!

 

End of the Month Wrap-Up: August 2019!

sparrow-4278293_1280

As the weather got really hot and then decided, yeah, it’s time to be fall, apparently I stayed in and read a lot while I wasn’t writing. I got through a whopping nineteen books–though to be fair, several of those were graphic novels, which read fast for me, and two were DNFs.

Still.

On the writing front, not much is going on. I gave my beta readers more time with #spookyromancenovel, because most of them needed it for one reason or another, and I wasn’t ready to dive back in to rewriting. That’s on my plate for September, but honestly, after this revelation, I’m not eager to get back to work. I’ve got some thinking to do. In the meantime, I’ve kept up my daily writing habit with book reviews, blog posts, and journal entries. Nothing wrong with taking a breather from a big project!

I worked a lot. I mean, a lot a lot. Hence my missing a few blog posts, generally being inactive on Tumblr, and spending more time reading in my off hours than doing anything more active, because I was tired, because I was working. A lot. (In fact, I’m churning this somewhat half-assed post itself in the sliver of the morning I get before I start a ten-hour shift. I love my new job–I wouldn’t go back to my old one for anything. But it does come with longer days sometimes.)

By the same token, I didn’t exercise as consistently as I wanted to in August, but I’m using the start of a new month, as I so often do, to attempt to get back on track. As soon as I’m done with this post, it’s yoga time. I swear!

As always, I hope your August was grand, and if for whatever reason it wasn’t, I hope your September is better.