Tag Archive: Pressure


Going To Need A Second Brain

I’ve been working for the last few days on The Nine, just working out what the major events are, the threads I need to juggled and keep track of, which has resulted in the title of this post. ¬†I’ve got a lot going on here ūüėģ

This is not a new thing for me, I should mention, writing down the major events. ¬†I did this when I was figuring out how I needed to rewrite DM, and I did it to some extent with Possession, but I know I have a lot to deal with in wrapping the trilogy, and that’s making me do this part in a more serious fashion. I’ve actually pulled out index cards so I can make notes on each of the threads. ¬†Every thread has it’s own card. ¬†There are several (I’m not going to count, I’m not going to go count them, I’ll only scare myself). I’m slowly figuring out how to tie it all together, the places where the threads meet, knot with each other and then go back on their separate paths, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little uncertain about pulling this off. ¬†It’s going to push me as a writer, but I see that as a good thing. ¬†The only way to grow in skill and maturity is to push yourself further, to make yourself try to stretch for that greater achievement. ¬†Damn, though, it’s scary.

I’m still letting myself have a bunch of downtime, of course, so I can recharge. ¬†Notes and outline stages seem to be like that for me though. ¬†I’ll make a few notes, go do something else, come back to it. ¬†Outline a couple things, then do something else. It’s just writing draft that I pound myself (and keyboard) into the ground on, and even that’s only on first draft. ¬†That’s mostly about that internal editor, the same one who makes me wonder if I can pull this off. ¬†Mine’s semi-trained in a professional sense, since I once wanted to do that for a living, which seems to have sharpened her teeth and claws. ¬†The only way I can get a book done, I’ve found, is to write at warp speed, which is what leads me to do all of this planning, of course. ¬†I can only write that fast if I’ve already spent a lot of time thinking about what needs to go where. ¬†It’s when I haven’t done that that I end up slowing down and getting caught by a combination of exhaustion and inner-editor. ¬†It’s really a one-two punch, which is part of what happened at the end of Possession. ¬†I didn’t spend enough time thinking about how I would handle the ending. I knew what the ending was, the things it had to be, but not how I would approach it or pull it off. ¬†With so much at stake in The Nine, I have no intention of doing that again, leaving the state in which I crossed the finish line last time totally aside.

I have no idea when I’ll start writing this one, and I’m not going to speculate, as I don’t want to feel I have to rush to it. It won’t be until I’m ready, until I know where I’m going and how. ¬†I need to check something in both books that I’ve already written before I can get too far into outlining, but I can’t do that right now. ¬†I’m not pulling Possession out of the drawer yet, as it’s not time, not even close, and I know I’ll get caught up in it if I open the file to check for that one thing. ¬†At least I know my own weaknesses, I guess.

What I find most funny, to me anyway, is that in spite of how intimidating I’m finding The Nine at the moment, I’m seriously looking forward to writing it. ¬†Or maybe it’s because of that intimidation. ¬†I love beating down a challenge, standing on it and saying “Yeah, that’s right, I won.”

And now, before I get back to trying to weave threads without tangling them worse than kittens, tonight’s picture, for your enjoyment.

The Delight of Nothing

You wouldn’t believe how hard it is at the start for me to do nothing. ¬†Especially after four straight months of always on, always working. ¬†But I did it. ¬†Other than a couple of notes on stray thoughts, I did NOTHING yesterday that was writing related. ¬†It was fantastic once I got into it. ¬†I feel surprisingly recharged, other than the irritation of having to stop doing nothing and go to work today. ¬†That sucked.

The funny thing about all that nothing is that it seemed to have allowed me to de-stress enough and stop thinking about The Nine enough to let my brain make some progress in the background on it. ¬†I’ve a basic idea of how I want to handle a bunch of things, including one of the knottier issues I was facing, and I don’t feel nearly as pressured about this being the close of the trilogy anymore. Hell, I was joking about it today, and for those of you who don’t know me all that well, that means I’m not worried about it. ¬†It’s when I lose any ability to tell jokes about a subject that you know I’m suffering some serious angst about it.

So yeah, slowly building out the story for The Nine while I let Possession sit in the magical drawer (folder on my computer). I expect to be ready for outlining at least, if not already started that stage, by the time I pull Possession back out and reread it. ¬†I may read back through DM again beforehand, just to regain the perspective of “here’s where people will be when they come into the story.” ¬†We’ll see.

I really do feel better about a lot of things that had begun to irritate me in general, work, writing, self, all of it. ¬†I’m starting to think that maybe working 7 days a week is bad for you or something ūüėģ I know, you’re all as shocked by that as I am. ¬†Or maybe just shocked by my admitting it. ¬†Okay, yes, I’ve been pushing myself a little too hard, and had a wee bit of trouble taking the foot off the gas when I needed to, desperately needed to in fact. ¬†I’m starting to think that, when it comes time to write The Nine, I’m going to need to build a 6-day a week schedule, rather than say that I will write every day for hours. ¬†I won’t necessarily take that day off (hey, I’m being honest here, don’t throw things at me), but I will at least feel like I’m allowed to when I have a day that I can’t seem to dial into the story, or I’m tired, or whatever. ¬†I think giving myself permission to do that might be important to finding that balance I keep going on about.

I’ve also given a fair bit of thought on why I’ve been pushing myself so hard. ¬†I’m not going to blame Tavis (he’s not nearly as pushy as, oh say, Devan), and I’m not even going to let myself off by saying the story was flowing and I just went with it. ¬†That was the case for most of Possession, no doubt about that, but the ending was like pulling teeth and I’m not happy with it, yet I pretty literally forced myself to it anyway, rather than doing the sensible thing and letting myself have that day off that I had definitely earned. ¬†So why did I do that to myself (stupidly) and risk burn out? I think the easiest way to explain it is to admit that I feel guilty some days. ¬†Maybe that seems silly to some, especially in light of what I’ve managed to accomplish in the last four months, but it’s true.

Remember how I said that I discovered writing when I was 16? I’m almost 34 now. ¬†Almost 18 years have passed since I realized that writing is very much part of who I am and what I want to be doing with my life, and what have I been doing? Mostly not writing, that’s what. ¬†I feel like I have severely wasted my time because I was scared, miserable, tired, the list goes on, but they were all excuses, really. ¬†I think I’ve proven that’s all they were. ¬†I could have been writing for the last 18 years, but I didn’t, and I sometimes wonder where I would be, skill-wise, if I had been writing. ¬†Maybe I needed that time to gain a greater perspective on life, people, feelings, the world, all the kinds of things that get woven into stories, even when you write Fantasy like I do (or maybe it’s especially when you write Fantasy and have some seriously bizarre elements in the world). But mostly I feel like I let myself down and now I have to make it up to myself, and make the most of every minute I have for writing. ¬†Man, that sounds stupid to me as I type it, but it’s still my feelings on the matter. ¬†I feel like I have to make up for all that time I wasted when I should have been writing, so I drive myself mercilessly. ¬†I have to get a handle on this, though, or I’ll do myself some serious damage.

I’ve decided that I’m going to dial back the 30-day goal when it comes time to start that process with The Nine. ¬†Yes, I know, I beat pace every day when writing both of the novels I’ve completed, but I’m on to me there too. I’m going to tell myself that pace is okay (rather than a starting point), that 3k is amazing, and to quit for the day while I still have brain cells that function and am somewhat awake. I’m going to keep reminding myself of that as many times as I have to until I have it pounded through my seriously thick skull. ¬†There is no point in making myself brain dead for my writing. I’m not good enough for it to be worth that price, and even if I were that awesome, it still wouldn’t be worth it.

It’s amazing the perspective a day of not immersing yourself in your chosen obsession can give you. ¬†And for anyone who might be wondering why I’m saying all of this here, it’s for the same reason I announce my writing goals here. ¬†I’m trying to keep myself honest, and not let myself sidle away from it. ¬†I’m good at it, trust me, but knowing that I have told people, that I have staked out specifically what I’m going to do keeps me from twisting my own words, or telling myself I didn’t really mean it, or that halfway is enough. ¬†It gives me something to live up to, and I’m noticing time and again that it’s working for me.

In other news, I think Sketh and Devan are going to end up having a duel or something for my time when I finish the trilogy. ¬†Now they BOTH won’t leave me alone. ¬†I’d be irritated, but we all know I am entirely happy to have a million ideas rolling around in my head. ¬†If they’d only stop waking me up in the middle of the night, I’d delightedly tell them to get comfy. ¬†Inconsiderate bastards, these necromancers and mercenaries, keeping a lady up at night. ūüôā

Yes, I know, I still haven’t done my Tag post or the two awards I’ve received, but I’ll be honest, writing and photography and thoughts about those things are always going to come first on this blog. ¬†It’s just who I am. ¬†I’ll get to those, though, really, I will.

Finally, before my fingers drop off or Tavis gets impatient, tonight’s picture:

Well, I’ve definitely learned something. I was doing exactly what I thought I was doing. It’s annoying to have to tell myself I was right and that I was wrong and that I was being stupid. Yes, that probably sounds crazy, but keep in mind that it’s a conversation with myself, and I’ve told you before, writers are crazy. It’s what we do.

You might recall I said in my last awards post that I was never satisfied with my word count, that if I did 3k last draft, I would be pushing myself for 4k on the next? That’s literally true. ¬†It’s what I’ve been doing, and I think that’s been part of the problem. 4k every day is a lot (especially after an 8 hour work day), and some days it isn’t there, but do you think I let myself understand that? Heck no. Yes, this means I’ve berated myself on the days it isn’t there, tried to wheedle and coax myself into getting there anyway, and I keep giving in to myself on it instead of saying “Look self, I’m over 3k, pace was 2.5k, enough. We’re good for the day.” And that only gets worse on the weekends, where the line is “If I can do 4k on a weekday, I should be able to do a lot more than that when I have all day. 6k minimum, and I should keep pushing even after that.” It’s never enough for me, it seems.

That is not to say I was wrong in my last post about the wall being related to a story problem. That was the wall, but when I got that problem sorted, I still had some trouble getting the engine to turn over and realized that it’s because I hadn’t even started it and already had the pedal matted. ¬†Not good, only floods the engine. I was sitting there and seriously telling myself that I had to make sure I hit at least 4k every day now, and that this weekend I should use the time to make up for the lack of writing after I hit the wall. ¬†After a moment, I realized exactly how stupid that sounded and went off to read for a while. ¬†It was a delicious thing to turn away for an hour and do something else. ¬†I won’t say it’s easy to resist the pressure I put on myself, but I think it’s worth doing sometimes, if only to me back on an even keel.

It’s great to drive myself to finish the book, but if I drive myself to the point of wanting to walk away, that’s just counterproductive (and the above mentioned stupid). Then I end up quitting over not meeting some artificial, self-imposed quota or deadline that wasn’t reasonable to begin with. ¬†In a way, I’m laughing at myself right now. ¬†I’ve told a number of people to take the pressure off of themselves, to be reasonable in their goals, to dial it back to where it’s still about loving writing. Do you think I take my own advice? Yeah, right, that would be sensible, which I rarely manage. So I am going to do that, I’m going to take my own advice. I’m going to dial it back, tell myself that 3k, which only a couple of months ago would have thrilled me as a regular achievement, is perfectly acceptable. I’m still over 20k ahead of pace and even that isn’t the point. ¬†I need to let myself be a little sane (don’t laugh too hard, we’re talking my version here), do some things that aren’t writing the book or I’m going to do myself some harm here. ¬†I don’t think I could quite make myself hate writing, but if I keep this up, it may become a job in the less pleasant sense, rather than the job that doesn’t feel like work as it has been for the past few months.

I’m the one who keeps talking about maintaining balance, so it’s time to bring this back into balance. What’s funny about that is I have this feeling that if I can rebalance this, the numbers will probably jump again on their own, if I’m not trying to force it anymore. ¬†That’s just the way things usually work in my life.

I haven’t reported numbers on Possession for a while now, so I am going to do that now, so that maybe I (and the rest of you) can really see that it’s not like I’m in danger of not hitting my goal or not finishing the draft. ¬†I know where I am with the outline, and the chances are excellent that, like the second draft of DM, I will finish the book at or before the end of my February NaNo, even with me dialling it back. ¬†As of the end of the day yesterday, the manuscript stood at 62,151 words. I’m about to start chapter 16. Even with the problems this week, not including today because I haven’t gotten started yet, I’ve put in a total of 13,396 words. That’s fantastic, and I really should be happy with that. ¬†I’m trying to be, trying to ignore the totals from Thursday and Friday (though Friday at least wasn’t bad, especially if you realize that I was rewriting a not so small section that wasn’t right when I forced myself to write it in pursuit of the artificially inflated finish line). ¬†I really need to maintain some perspective here, something I’m spectacularly bad at doing myself most of the time, for all that I can help other people do it.

I do want to say a very, very big thank you to all of you who have taken the time to read, like and comment on the posts in the last few days. Your words of encouragement, support, and advice have helped more than I can tell you. ¬†I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the supportive community is what makes WordPress a wonderful place to blog.

In closing, today’s picture. I thought we could all use some sun and colour on this February morning.

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