Journal

Goals and Thoughts

The first half of the year didn’t go quite as I planned. I didn’t write down any goals, but I still feel a bit disappointed on the writing front. I got off to a good start, but things broke down at the end of March, and only picked up the regular writing routine this week. I like to reflect on this all, now and then, so here are a few thoughts.

Some things I’ve managed to do

I’m 78k into the new novel (The Golden Thread). I’ve written and sold 1 short story. I’m also proofreading for Inter Nova which features international speculative fiction.

From now until October

I’d like to finish the first draft of The Golden Thread. I’d also like to write at least one more short story and aim for a pro-rate sale.

Some difficult lessons (because I’m stubborn like that)

Focusing on word counts drives me nuts. My new goal is to sit at the computer and write for at least 30 minutes, every weekday. So far, some days I’ve written very little, but most days I’m surprised how quickly time goes and I don’t want to stop. If I sit there for 30 minutes and get nothing, that’s fine, but at least I’ve shown up to work, which is the hardest thing.

The internet is stronger than my willpower. I thought I had developed excellent focus, so after writing with the internet physically unplugged for months, I tried writing with it on. I’m not that strong. I’m going back to unplugging.

I can’t neglect my mind and body. A massage therapist checked out my wrists a few weeks ago, and the first thing she said was “You type too fast. You need to slow down.” Boy did she have some things to say about my back, which has been bothering me too.  The better care I take, the more I’ll be able to write. So, I’ve been training myself to write at a standing desk. It’s taken a while to get used to it, and some days I’m tired so I still sit, but on the whole it’s not unpleasant, especially if I stick to 30 minute writing blocks. I’ve also found that scheduling the writing time earlier in the evening, so I have time to wind down before bed, helps me sleep better. Also taking a little quiet time to stretch at the end of the day, does wonders for both my back and peace of mind. Multitasking!

Sometimes saying no is necessary. I bit off more than I could chew at the start of the year. I can’t recall the number of novels I beta read (5?), but it was a lot, in addition to working on my own writing. I’ll be guarding my time a little bit closer from now on, but if you would like me to beta read anything please let me know. I might still have the time, especially if its a short story! It all depends on what’s happening.

I’m a writer. I had a rough time with dance this season. Everyone in the company is passionate about dance, and everything that goes into it. Listening to the others talk about it, made me acutely aware that my heart was not in it. I felt like a fake. I enjoy it, but its not what I look forward to every week, or every year. In fact, there were times I dreaded rehearsals. I had to give up writing, because dance was getting to be too draining mentally and physically. Part of me resented that it was taking me away from what I really love to do, which is to write.

It feels good to be a writer again.

What have you learned/been working on lately?

13 Comments

  1. The “internet is stronger than my willpower” is definitely true for me as well. I’m sure I’m considered eccentric for writing with a fountain pen, but it’s partly because my pen doesn’t have the internet on it. Neither does my paper. 🙂

    I know what you mean about dance vs. writing, too. Not that I was ever a dancer, but I used to be a musician, and I gradually realized that, while playing music has rewards (applause is nice, collaboration can be nice), I really preferred writing.

    I agree about word counts. I never thought about them until recently, and now mostly I track it to make sure I’m keeping everything concise. I had hoped Stevie One would be around 40,000 words (a bit shorter than my first novel), but it ended up around 30,000 words, which pleased me no end. So, I guess that’s what I’ve been working on — keeping the word count under control. 🙂

    Hemingway wrote standing up, BTW (I may have mentioned that already).

    1. I’m glad I’m not the only one that has a hard time resisting the lure… 🙂 I like writing on paper sometimes as well. It helps me focus my thoughts better and I always brainstorm that way. I don’t have a fountain pen, but I do have a fondness for Uniball’s and Pilot V5 pens. They’re my one writerly indulgence besides books.

      And yes you have mentioned about Hemingway! My setup is temporary, but maybe one day I’ll get a proper writing surface, so I don’t have to disassemble my post every day. It’s been really good.

  2. Your thoughts come across as very healthy, analyzing what is been working and where you want to go. In particular, seeing how your body is reacting to things and adjusting to fit its needs.

    One convenient thing about using voice dictation for my writing is that it makes it much more difficult to fall foul of the Internet addiction problems. The voice dictation programs aren’t as thoroughly integrated with web browsers and therefore it’s harder to switch from my manuscript to the latest shiny gewgaw the Internet is offering up.

      1. I use Dragon Naturally Speaking for first drafts and rewriting and Dragon Dictate for inline editing. I prefer Dragon Naturally Speaking, it does much better at learning new names, selecting portions of the text, and provides a better interface for editing when the dictation program interprets my intent incorrectly. However, it runs on Windows (run within VMWare on my Mac) and although I’ve got methods of loading text into Scrivener in a way that works for the first drafts; trying to copy the text out of my Mac to Windows and back results in very funky formatting, so instead of fighting the formatting I just use Dragon Dictate.

  3. When I get in the writing zone, I’m usually pretty good about staying there. The only way the internet distracts me, when that happens, is if I run across something where I don’t know about something that will impact how the scene plays out or how I describe it or something like that. One recent example: “Oh no, I don’t know what the proper name for that circular spinning doorhandle that locks doors on ships and submarines. What’s it called?” And then I’m off to the internet to research.

    I’ve been learning to use a method I saw mentioned by Mary Robinette Kowal, in which she puts some kind of brackets to denote stuff she needs to research later. But I don’t always remember to do that. And when I forget to do that, and turn to the internet instead, that tends to suck up a lot of time.

    1. I’ve been using that method for the present novel. I use an @ symbol so its easy to search through (when I remember), and there’s a lot of @name @place @someKindOfWeapon. I’m not looking forward to filling it all out later though…

  4. Well, at least you know what you’re really passionate about. 🙂 I tend to have a lot of different interests but they’re all about equal, in my mind. *sighs* Hard to be all gung-ho about any one thing when you’re that way… You want to do it all and you end up doing nothing.

    Go figure!

    Also, I had no idea it was even possible to type too fast! :O

  5. I spend so many hours in my car for my job, so I can relate to the back issue. I’m going to get some help with that too.

    Hope you find more time to write. It’s so easy to let it get away from you.

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