Progress Is Progress

Hello, world. Somehow I have once again managed to find my way to the surface to post. Truthfully, I had every intention of posting at the beginning of this month and keeping up with it this time. I even had all my Writer’s Guide topics laid out for each week this month! That’s a miracle!

Unfortunately that didn’t go to plan in the slightest, and I’m not really sure what happened that screwed every intention I had.

My last post — nearly a month ago now — was right before Camp NaNo began, and I had talked about getting ready for that, and I possibly also ranted about work… *Looks off innocently*

I suppose I could account part of my “falling off the blog wagon” incident to work and how much of a hell situation is was a month ago, but that has smoothed over for the most part again about two weeks ago. Maybe I was just so burned out and fed up with life and work that I no longer cared. Or maybe I was just so bummed and mad at myself because I wasn’t working on my Camp project that I figured I had absolutely nothing to talk about. Maybe all of the above and then some. Who knows with me, I’m not going to try to find the source of my absence, it’d be pointless.

(I do know there was more than one time I remembered I needed a blog post, and by the end of the day I had totally forgotten again and it was too late to do it. That happens a lot anymore. I need to start setting myself an alarm to write my posts so I stop forgetting.)

So while the first two and a half weeks of this month were a complete bust in Camp NaNo and life, I seem to have finally managed to pull some semblance of productivity and motivation back together. Perhaps this time the pieces of my life are a little more well glued together. A feat I can credit to some friends of mine.

Camp NaNo 2017

For the first three weeks of July, there were truthfully only two days in which I edited and worked on my concordance for Fated to Darkness. Those days were Day 1 and 2.  After that it was all down hill from there.

My original goal was to work up through Chapter 11, which was roughly 146 pages or so.

At first I wanted to work on it and kept telling myself I should work on it, but it just didn’t happen between work and other obligations. After that first week, when I had fallen so far behind in only managing to do 23 pages, I started to give up.

In the beginning it came across as I was going to have to lower my goal, to what I didn’t know, but I was going to have to lower it below 100 pages because the rest of my month was so booked with work, camping, and other obligations, that I was never going to have any free time at all to edit. (Or so I thought.) Then that notion began to spiral into not caring if I won for the month or not, which lead to wanting to just delete my entire Camp project for the first time ever because I was so frustrated with myself. I couldn’t figure out why I had tanked so hard this Camp.

On the last possible day before validation began I dropped my goal to 55 pages, which was only two more chapters from where I fell off the Camp wagon. A couple hours after that, I dropped my goal even lower to only 38 pages: one more chapter.

I hated myself for it. I hated how pathetically small that number looked, when I had such high hopes and plans for how I could finish the minor editing and concordance work before November started. I could see all those plans and hopes washing away down the drain each time I sighed heavily and officially dropped my goal.

But I’ve come to realize that I dream too big for the war I fight inside my own head every single day. I’ve come to finally see that those dreams carry me away on an euphoric high way up into the pristine white clouds and sunshine for a little bit, then the storm clouds roll back in at the slightest diversion to those dreams, snuffing the sun out, and the high is gone. The storm takes my motivation and hopes with it; and Mother Nature always wins in the end.

I also realized something else though. If I cannot find the willpower strong enough to hold myself accountable to my goals and dreams, then I do need help to do so. I don’t mean just encouragement, I mean the kind of help that stands at your side as your shadow, doing exactly what you do so that you aren’t doing it alone anymore. It’s easier to motivate yourself when you have someone in your corner consistently cheering you on and helping you build castles from sand.

And that is what happened finally.

Five days ago the black clouds began to clear, and with help — and much grumbling and resistance at first — I got myself to once more sit down and try to edit. I only expected to work for an hour, if that if I could keep myself focused, and instead I ended up working for two hours. Perhaps I didn’t feel very accomplished in the end, perhaps I didn’t feel the excitement to be working again yet, and I didn’t believe at the time that “some progress is better than no progress”, but that was because again I was still dreaming too big.

I’ve been looking at the long run goal for so long instead of looking at the stepping stones that lead me there. I’ve been looking at the completed concordance, and all 43 chapters (including Prologue and Epilogue) read through, slightly edited, noted for paper edits, and all the work for Phase 2 of this stage where I take all my messy notes and organize them to the concordance, and every word of every page in the Word doc that is overwhelming.

I’m psyching myself out when I stare at the project as a whole.

Yes I have a long, long way to go in this novel yet, but don’t they always tell you to stop and smell the roses, to enjoy the journey instead of focusing solely on the destination? Isn’t it easier to see how far you’ve come when you break the journey into parts, like traveling cross country, state to state, city to city.

If I stop thinking about the goals, if I stop making the goals, then I finally stop stressing about making par, about getting to the page or chapter or word count I so-called need to.

Progress is progress, no matter how small or big.

Yes, I want to finish this stage before November, but I don’t have to plan out doing this many chapters and pages every single month. All I truthfully have to do is show up and work, and before I know it…I’ll be farther than I thought I would be. Then suddenly I won’t be worrying so much about par, wondering if I’ll make my goal for the month.

I read somewhere that it is more motivating to make a list of all the things you accomplish, instead of a list of all the things you want to accomplish and never get to cross off half. Watch the positive list grow and grow to build yourself up, and if you so wish, make that goal list anyways and watch it grow smaller and smaller compared to your accomplishment list on steroids so long as you show up to work. At some point the positive one will come to outweigh the ever-growing, daunting list.

So right now I have no true monthly goals anymore. My only intention is to be through this stage of editing before November, and at the rate I’m going now without the stress of meeting quotas, I might even be there before October.

Right now it’s just work for one hour a day at the very least with a friend to help hold myself accountable. (Most days I’m finding I do more than an hour.) It doesn’t matter how many pages I get done, or if I make it through the chapter or not, just work. The hope is the more I do it, the easier it will get, the more habit it will become until I can hold myself to it every day without issue. And the more I work, the further I get every single day.

A week ago I thought I wouldn’t make goal for Camp. A week ago I wrestled with myself over deleting my Camp project and giving up entirely. A week ago I didn’t care. It’s amazing how one week, one day, one conversation can change everything.

Now I here I sit making sure I edit every single day with a writing buddy for at least that one hour. Now here I sit somehow managing to get through almost a chapter a day without even realizing how much progress I’m making. Now here I sit truly wondering if I ever needed to drop my Camp goal at all from just four days of work.

I am over halfway to my original goal of 146 pages, and there is still six days left to Camp NaNo. I am 23 pages away from being one-sixth of the way through my entire book. I am 23 pages away from breaking triple digits in page numbers. I am three chapters away from breaking double digits in chapters.

When I look at it that way, in bits and pieces, only then do I see just how far I’ve gotten already. When I look at how many pages are being added to my concordance, how many notes are being organized and recorded to make the paper edits that much easier, I see just how far I’m getting finally.

Progress is progress, no matter how small or big it may be. Remember that fellow authors, writers, poets, and dreamers. Always remember that and the storm clouds will clear the way for sunshine once more.

Creeping Closer

The first session of Camp NaNoWriMo is only three days away…

I’m so not ready.

Well, maybe a bit ready.

I’m definitely not ready.

I know what I’m working on for the month. I know my goal and how I’ll stretch that goal if I get close to it. I know where I’m at in the story and I have a couple chapters planned ahead yet.

Of course, once I get close to the end of those chapters I’ll have to draw up some more on where things are headed, but I have the general idea.

I have the next two days off to get myself fully sorted for Camp, and I also managed to get the first day of Camp off from work to get myself a head start on writing. As I learned yesterday, I’m going to need it come the last two months of April because it seems managers are once more going on long vacations for two weeks, which means more stress and more hours and less time to write.

Go figure.

So I suppose I better get my head start and write like mad at the beginning of month so I’m not struggling to stay afloat towards the end of the month. Fingers crossed that actually goes to plan.

The two days off means another list to do and getting myself set because I will not have any time on Thursday with work to be ready for Friday.

It’s so close now. So close. I’m getting really excited, and nervous.

Camp NaNo, here I come! Ready or not!

(Mainly not.)

Lists and Progress

This week has been a series of big ups and downs for me. It started off decent enough, and now it’s just gone way downhill.

Remember me saying last Friday I was going to have four days off to tackle a ginormous to do list? Turns out I had 29 items listed on that list, by Wednesday when I went back to work I had gotten it down to four items left.

(Though when I write lists I tend to go into small break down details. Or I’ll add really minor things so that I don’t forget them. For instance, I added one item that read “take papers down to recycle”. That literally takes a whole three minutes to do, so it’s really minor, but I would more than likely forget it if I didn’t write it down. In the spectrum of breaking things down, I sort of list steps or break them into parts so it doesn’t look so daunting. One of the things I had to do was set up my Sunday Snippet posts through part of May so I don’t have to worry about them during Camp. Well, I didn’t just write “set up Sunday Snippets”, I broke it down into three items: set up Sunday Snippets for rest of March, set up Sunday Snippets for April, set up Sunday Snippet for May 1st. See? Less daunting.)

Anyways, of those four things I had left, one had unforeseen circumstances come up to prevent it from happening, another I resolved could be done later in the week because I had nowhere to put it anyways once it was done early, a third I could do after work on Wednesday, and the last was one I just didn’t get to.

Overall I’d say I did pretty good then.

Except, that one item for after work Wednesday didn’t happen when things began going downhill fast, and I have yet to accomplish the one item I didn’t get to because of that downhill motion too. So I’ve kind of come to a grinding halt, again.

I did manage to finally be caught up on all my journal entries that should have been done last month before I got royally sick. I also finally got some Sunday Snippets printed from here for Rivers of Black because I want to re-edit it and the snippets I shared held a few changes I want to keep. However, editing that story was supposed to be my focus for March and you can guess that didn’t go as planned at all now.

I’ve still got a week left to March to work on it, but I should be focusing on being ready for Camp then. Which means I’m making up another list of things to do. So I’m thinking editing might come back around in May. Maybe. Hopefully. Plus there’s more that has popped up on the I-need-to-do-this-before-Camp scale now…

Yeah, it looks like I’m making another list before work today.