getting things done

The other Monday, coming home from the airport, I observed aloud that the con crud hadn’t affected me so far, so I must have escaped it this year. So naturally I started coming down with the crud two days later.

One of these days I’m gonna need to stop treating constitution as my dump stat. And stop tempting the evil eye while I’m at it.

Some observations on the writing front:

Writing longhand seems to work better than it used to. The sensory feeling helps make it feel like a ‘new’ thing, and I’ve always liked using different types of writing accessories, so this way the crow brain gets a little justification for having bought that multipack of gel pens a while back.

Using the sticker journal method combined with Writeometer helps to reinforce the daily habit as well as tracking progress. Being sick and brain-foggy over the last week of February hurts to look at in terms of empty writing time, but that way I wasn’t splitting my concentration between writing and getting better, and when I got better, I was able to maintain the same level of productivity from before.

Especially since I didn’t get sick in the middle of a 10k-in-one-day sprint. See? I’m learning.

(Note: there is a difference between the brain fog of coughing one’s lungs out, and the brain fog of sneezing one’s lungs out. I just haven’t properly quantified it because I would rather be concentrating on literally anything else.)

You’ll notice I’m using things like gel pens and stickers to make the act of writing more sensory. That’s on purpose. I like tap-tap-tapping on a keyboard just fine, but if I’m gonna be out of ideas, lately I’d prefer to be so with a pad and paper than with my computer — because with the former, I just generally stare into space and click the pen a few dozen times and then just get back to it. It’s its own fidget toy, basically. With the latter, not much to fidget with unless you decide to whip out the Google Chrome no-internet-connection dino game. And at that point, the siren call of the internet starts up, and, well. In any case: it’s part of this whole “working with my brain instead of against it” thing.

Piggybacking off that idea of making writing more sensory is the auditory dimension. Some people function best with pure silence, others with white noise or variations (and there are many sites where you can adjust the white noise to sound like a coffee shop, or rain, or even a space ship); I function best when I have something to listen to that I already know inside out, and that also functions as a time-measure. So I cue up movies that I’ve seen a thousand times before. This has its own pros and cons … it has to be something I know down to its very bones and am used to watching, or I will get distracted by the actual movie rather than what I’m writing. At this particular moment in time, that means Jane Austen and romcoms. By the time that Lizzie rejects Darcy’s proposal, I know I should have already written at least 500 words.

(I have an idea rattling around my head of not only keeping track of word count with a graph and stickers, but with little game tokens to track chapter and novel count. But at the moment this is less feasible, and frankly feels like similar efforts from my crow brain to try to persuade me to buy more tabletop rpg dice. Yes, that d20 is very shiny. No, I do not need another one.)

While I don’t make graphs detailing every single plot beat, I do need a general map of where I’m going before I start. Which, for my current project, I have! Which I made during downtime at LTUE, actually. But which I haven’t actually looked at much since then. Might try doing that more often, the further into it we go. Especially since the big thing that I stumble into as a roadblock is “what the heck do I do next”. (Yeah, past me has declared before that writer’s block is only a matter of wanting to write, not not-knowing what to write. Past me has said a lot of things that turned out not to be accurate.) One thing that I do to combat this is by jumping around and writing scenes outside of chronological order. Hopping around the timeline can be fun, and is actually pretty helpful — if I don’t write it down, I will forget — but when it comes down to connecting the dots after the scenes are mostly written, how to transition from X to Z, well, that’s when it starts getting tricky. So having the outline to refer back to is gonna be handy.

But even if I haven’t been quite using all of the tools at my disposal (cough outline cough), I’m still writing much more than before. 2k or 3k a day is a lot more manageable than a 10k sprint, and so far I’ve been able to sustain that momentum. As of this morning we’re already over the 10,000 word mark — that’s pretty exciting. I’m hopeful that this story will be just as fun for readers as it is for me, writing it.

Well, buckle down and back to work!