Ashe Elton Parker

A Writer of LGBTQ+ Characters in Speculative Fiction

Tag: UL (page 1 of 3)

February and Now

I didn’t update here during February because it was a rough month, starting with the last week of January. I dropped into a depressive phase in January and struggled until I finally gave up keeping up with things. Nothing of my everyday tasks really got done. I was too depressed to care, and I didn’t even bother doing task lists or anything through most of February. This was all complicated by an out of town trip I had to make with my Mom, and, yeah. It was a tough month. I didn’t even write for most of it.

But this past week I managed to get back on the horse, after a fashion. I’d have to say I’m barely back on, but I’m clingint tight. I managed to make some progress on UL, though it wasn’t much. It felt good to write on it though.

Also, I’ve been working on a couple new story ideas. Just taking notes and doing worldbuilding for the most part. Can’t wait to dive into one of them, but I’m waiting to see if that mood passes. I’m liking the return of my discipline that I developed last year, as I’ve not started writing on these projects yet. My main goal, as it has been since October of last year, is to focus on Unwritten Letters.

Writing Plans and Goals

Aside from telling y’all that things are going well on the writing front, I’m not going to go into detail about the week. Instead, I’m going to list my writing goals, as I promised I would today.

Overall, I’m pleased with my progress since October, and I intend to continue on what I started. So—

Presently I’m writing a minimum goal of 250 words 5 days a week on Unwritten Letters. My first goal is to continue with this process. With every writing session, I get closer to finishing UL, and I’m looking forward to being done with it. I’m not sure how much longer this will take, mostly because I can’t predict how long each of the last few scenes will be until I’ve written them, though I think it’s safe to say I’ll be at this through January at least.

My original intent was to raise my wordcount goal to 500 words 5 days a week with the new year. Ultimately, I decided against that, mainly because I feel like UL is progressing too well at the 250 word level. I often write more than that, and I’m enjoying beating my wordcount goal so regularly. So, even though I often want to continue writing, I stop at some point beyond 250, but usually below 500 words. Wherever it feels natural to do so, or when I can’t figure out how to continue the scene without looking at the plot card again.

As for my goals, here they are:

  • Finish Unwritten Letters at 250 words a day 5 days a week.
  • Spend at least a month’s worth of time reading through incomplete WIPS to determine if I’d like to work on one of them. This is my primary focus. I need to get some more incomplete stories out of the way.
  • Try to make more progress on ideas that I’ve been doing background work on to see if I’ll maybe work on one of them instead, though they are not my primary focus.
  • Do the prep work, background work, and/or reverse outlining that may be needed for making progress on whatever incomplete WIP I choose.
  • Write 500 words 5 days a week on the project I choose.

That’s it for this week!

2018 Overview and 2019 General Goals

2018 was not a good year for me in a number of ways. One thing that really stands out is my embarkation as a DM in the D&D world, and admitting that I’d defeated myself with my leaping feet-first into a homebrew campaign. That was really hard to do, but I wasn’t having fun with it any more, and I knew if I tried to push myself, my friends wouldn’t have fun either due to my lack of preparation. I didn’t give up completely, however. My solution was to get an off the shelf game and speed-prep what I needed for it in a week or two so we could get to gaming as soon as possible. Half those plans fell through—we weren’t actually able to start the new campaign in December due to various people getting sick or not being able to show up. I myself spent a week with some weird illness where I felt physically drained and slept pretty much all day for something like five or six days straight. We are set to game tomorrow, though, which I’m glad about. Nobody’s ill, I think I’m as prepared as I can get, and we’re all desperate to play D&D together.

One thing that did go well, at least toward the last quarter of the year, was my writing. I made I don’t know how many false starts early on in the year, where I’d commit myself to completing something, then pretty much immediately failed to do so. Finally, at the end of August, I was fed up with that crap, and I decided I’d spend September reading through as many incomplete WIPS as I possibly could and then decide which one to work on. I focused more on those I had outlines for and eventually decided to work on Unwritten Letters starting in October. This I’m calling my Fool’s Errand, which I’ve been posting about on Saturdays here on AEP.

Also, I’ve made lots of new friends. So many people in my life now, I can barely name them all. I’ve started learning how to quilt, gotten more regular with crocheting, and have been cooking more. All because I have more friends in my life.

I continued using a Bullet Journal through most of 2018 as well, but to be honest, it was a struggle before the end of 2017 in some respects. Much of the Bullet Journal format is repetitive and labor-intensive, which made it seem like work, and thus not much fun, to work on. So I adjusted it. I don’t do the month overviews or lists of major things I want to get done every month. At about the same time I started reading through my WIPS, I decided to trim my Bullet Journal down to three primary things: Monthly Budget, Weekly Log, and Daily Log. I also obeyed an impulse I had and started listing completed tasks below the Task List, instead of just marking them as done. This proved to be a good instinct, because I find the act of actually writing out the name of the task to be more motivating than just marking the task as complete. I don’t just keep it to tasks I’ve listed as needing done, but also list things that I’ve done that weren’t on the Task List to begin with. And I don’t sweat the stuff I don’t do.

So those are the highlights of 2018. I’ll post more about my writing on Saturday. Until then, here are my general goals for the year, in no particular order:

  • Continue DMing for my Thursday Gaming Group.
  • Cook more frequently.
  • Continue pursuing my claims with the VA.
  • Read 12 books over the course of the year. More if possible, but at least 12.
  • Learn to play the flute. Poor thing’s probably rusted by now, it’s been so long since I used it.
  • Keep up with language practice for Spanish, German, and Norwegian.
  • Take walks more frequently, for at least 30 minutes a day.
  • Pick up work on my homebrew D&D campaign again.
  • Draw more often, at least once a week.
  • Continue volunteering at the Utah Pride Center once a week.
  • Get back into my Tarot lessons.

And that’s it!

A Rough End to the Week

This week started out well, but it had a rocky end. On Thursday and Friday, I did no writing on Unwritten Letters. In fact, I did almost nothing at all on Friday. That day was particularly bad. I awoke depressed and just stayed in bed until after 14:00, getting up only long enough for kitty care around noon before heading back to bed. Yeah. So, Friday was a complete bust.

I should perhaps clarify. While I did do some writing work Thursday, and I did actually get a number of tasks done from my list, I didn’t work on UL at all. Still, it was a productive day. I just wish I’d gotten UL stuff done.

On Sunday, I finished Scene 83 on UL and on Monday I got the next plot card for it—for Scene 85. The days I did write on UL have gone well, which is good, including tonight. I would like to have gotten another day of UL in this week, but I’m still pretty pleased with what I did get.

I’m trying to decide just which project to work on after I’m done UL because I’m creeping toward the end. There are maybe 6 notes left in Scapple for this ending sequence, and I haven’t been making any more adjustments to them the past few times I’ve opened the file. While that’s a good thing, it also indicates that what I’ve got is The Official End of UL. As much as I’m looking forward to that, I also don’t want it to end if I haven’t decided what to work on after UL, but I guess I can’t have everything. It may be that I’ll need to take a week or two to decide when I don’t have anything on my plate.

So that’s where my Fool’s Errand stands this week!

Up in the Air

This week was a bit challenging. Even on the days when I got a substantial amount of tasks done, and there were one or two such days, it was a struggle. And then there was Wednesday. I got absolutely nothing done that day, because I slept pretty much the entire day. Really. I didn’t get to bed until around 07:00 Wednesday morning. Because of that, I barely made it out of bed long enough to do my daily kitty care tasks at 13:00 before dropping into bed again to sleep a couple more hours. Then, at 15:00, I got up long enough to take my prebreakfast meds, called my mom while waiting for those to do their job, ate, and hung up the phone just before lying down on the sofa for another 2 hours of sleep. Oh, and I don’t know if Mom noticed it, but I was having trouble enunciating during that call, which is a clear sign I need more sleep. Then, I got up for long enough to shut down my computer and went back to bed for more sleep. Yeah, that was a dud day.

But I got five days of 250 words on Unwritten Letters. All five days are on the same one scene, and I stopped it today at a spot where the scene seems done. I may add a few words or so to tie it up neatly, but I think this is one of those scenes that won’t follow the entirety of the plot card. That’s another flexibility thing, and something I’ve always been okay with. Sometimes my creative mind gives me more to plot for a scene than I actually use, or slightly different information as a guide. I’ll look at it tomorrow or Monday and figure things out then.

My next project is still up in the air. I opened up Wevae’s Scrivener file, but have done absolutely nothing with it today. Really, I think my creative mind is backbrWeaining MOTS1 right now. Though I’d like to dig into it again and read through the scenes I’m keeping for ideas on what else to include, I feel an aversion to doing so. Sometimes this means I’m procrastinating and I just need to force myself to do what I want, but not always. Other times, it means things are developing in my subconscious. Unfortunately, I’m not always able to determine just which cause is the root of my aversion. In this instance, I’m disinclined to force the issue right now. But if I open Wevae’s file over the next couple of days, I’ll be giving MOTS1 a good hard look again. If my creative mind urges me to open a different file, well, things can still be considered quite undecided.

One thing, I am thinking about DH04 again. In a somewhat offhand manner—fleeting unfocused considerations. More along the lines of, “I’d like to get back to that project.” This is even less definite than my urge to open Wevae’s file. Since I open Chraest’s file daily to access UL, I’ll probably take a look at DH04 again sometime this next week, just to see if something kicks up in my backbrain. I think I may have an idea for its title, though. Just need to comb through the music terminology page on Wikipedia to figure it out, and that I’m dreading a little.

So that’s where my Fool’s Errand stands this fine Saturday evening.

Flexibility is a Necessity

Well, I pretty much crashed and burned this week, in terms of writing. I wrote only two days, though I did get a plot card on another day. This looks like it’s becoming a trend, and I’m now reconsidering what to do to work with/around this issue. One idea is to take a two-week break every three or four months. Another idea I’m entertaining is taking the last week of every month off of writing. Yes, yes, I know that if I want to develop a good habit with my writing, I should write as often as possible, but it won’t do me any good if every streak is interrupted by an unplanned hiatus. I’m trying to bring discipline back into my writing habit, and letting myself continue this pattern is not disciplined. Moreover, it harks back to my previous difficulties, including not writing for sometimes weeks on end.

Above all, I want to be flexible with my writing goals. Trying to stick to firm goals was how I screwed myself over before. My goal was to write one full scene a day, seven days a week. Unfortunately, if I happened to miss a day for whatever reason, I simply didn’t get back to it the next day. So for a few days, a couple weeks, a month or two, I’d simply not write unless I felt inspired, and that’s not the way to build a good writing habit. Even I knew that, which was why I started up this Fool’s Errand.

So now I need to do some thinking and make some decisions about my fiction writing habit. I’ve pretty much proven to myself that I can be disciplined and consistent with my 250 words five days a week writing goal, and I think I can maintain that consistency even if I take regular, I’ll call them extended breaks. A part of me wants to give the two-week break every three or four months a try first, but given my experiences the past couple of months—dropping things the second week of my new habit, and then again in the middle of this month—I’m reluctantly thinking it may be best if I plan for a week off every month. Alternatively, I could assign a week’s break every five weeks—five weeks of writing with the sixth week a break, but I kind of don’t want to do that.

My plan for these breaks is to make them full breaks from active writing and plotting on my main project. I’ll take notes on the project, but I won’t do plot cards or write my word goal. That seems best as that’s what I’ve already been doing for the most part anyway. Honestly, I just haven’t felt motivated, and I forced the words and that plot card on the days I wrote them all. Mostly because I “should,” and I think that’s what’s getting in my way. Instead of going with the flow, or being willing to plan regular extended breaks like this, I instead beat my head against the metaphorical wall and push myself to do something I don’t really want to do, and end up making myself miserable.

Because, you know what? I really didn’t enjoy writing those words or that plot card this past week. Also, I didn’t look forward to writing. No excitement thrilled through me when I finished getting my words for the day, and I didn’t particularly want to continue writing. For perspective, pretty much every other day I’ve written this month—the two previous weeks, and in fact since I dropped it that week in October—I’ve really, really wanted to continue writing and made myself stop because I didn’t want to burn myself out on it, even though writing had been great fun.

So I think taking a regular extended break like this is a good idea. An important thing to do. Moreover, I believe it’s something I should do my best to consciously plan for, so I’m not blindsided by another unexpected hiatus. When I let that happen, I try to force the writing, which is not fun. If writing can’t be fun for me, why should I bother continue doing it? So I’m going to do my best to work with it by actively and consciously putting it in my schedule. This is the best way I can think of to handle it, and I’ll experiment if it doesn’t seem to work. Flexibility in my Fool’s Errand goals is key to making this endeavor a success.

15Nov18: Slow Day

I didn’t get much done Thursday. Lack of motivation got me. Did go to gaming with my longtime gaming friends, got a plot card on Unwritten Letters, and chatted with Mom. Aside from those things, nothing else.

4Nov18: By Any Standards

By any standards, Sunday was a wildly productive day. And particularly by my own. I got a lot done, and that’s even with a few hours out of the house at an appointment, having a meal with a friend, and getting groceries in a store whose floor plan has been different every single time I’ve gone in there for the past couple of months. They’re remodeling the grocery section of my Smith’s Marketplace, so it’s all a mess there. I had to go up and down literally every aisle yesterday to find what I needed, because, even if the shelves hadn’t been taken out, nothing I needed was in the place it used to be. It’s going to be fantastic when they’re done, but it’s definitely a madhouse right now.

In addition to getting to my knee appointment, dining with Katie, and going for groceries, I Did my languages, called my sister Erin for a 40 min call and my friend Anita for an hour-and-twenty-minute call, and did a plot card on UL since I finished up the last one the other day. Did some D&D prep too, and a kept up with my Task Journal. Before leaving the house, I sorted my pills for the week, which is pretty important. It’s how I know what meds to take and when to take them. Read a bit too, though only very little. Oh, and I even got my 250 words!

So, a very productive day for me!

2Nov18: More Than I Thought Done

I definitely didn’t hit on everything on Friday, but I got quite a bit done. Languages, posting DH03CH09 to Wattpad, posting the prompt to my MeWe page, working on my journal, going to my therapy appointment. I also took a nap and went out with a couple of friends. And I got my 250 words, which I thought I wouldn’t get to. So a pretty good day at the end of it.

Better Weeks

(This post was moved to this site on 19 November 2018.)

I knew I’d forgotten to do something last Saturday. Just tonight looked to see that I’d missed last week’s post here. My apologies. Here’s a combined report on the last two weeks instead.

Both have been better than the second week of this month. I’ve managed to write most days of both weeks, though it looks like I’ll be taking my second writing break tonight, though we’ll see. Still working on convincing myself it’s going to be a writing night for me. Either way, I did a plot card on UL on the 21st or 22nd this week, and those come out to anywhere about 250-500 words depending on how detailed I get with them, so I generally count plot cards as writing days.

Unwritten Letters is progressing nicely. So far, it’s taken anywhere from 5-8 writing sessions to complete a scene, and I’ve completed two since starting. I’m not stopping right on the 250th word every time. Sometimes I want to complete a thought, so I write until I reach that point. But I always go over my wordcount goal. And I don’t go back to write more until the next day.

Restricting myself to one writing session of a relatively small amount is helping me keep up with the goal. This pleases me, and was what I hoped would happen. Before, I think I burnt myself out on writing gads of words over brief periods of a few days to a week. Also, I was writing mostly due to feeling inspired, and the thought of adding another 1500-2500 words a day got daunting, so I didn’t bother trying. Now I’ve been saying to myself, “It’s only 250 words—10-15 minutes of writing max. I can squeeze that in right now.” Makes it really easy to get my goal in most days.

I spent a few days the past week taking notes on a brand new thing. This too was one of my goals—that I’d take notes and tell the idea to wait its turn in line. It helped, I think, that I also told myself repeatedly that I didn’t know where to begin the story. Not that I didn’t have ideas for the opening, which I did, but I didn’t let myself decide on one. This new thing has 3 MCs, triplet sisters, and no visible ending, so I’ve told it to wait.

Though I’ve got about 5 or 6 or so more notes in Scapple for UL’s plot cards, I’m going to spend next week or so figuring out what I want to work on next. No, I still haven’t finalized that decision. I definitely want to do that before I finish UL though. I may work on 2 projects, one with an outline, and one without.

Oh, I’ve had some important epiphanies about DH04-06 the past couple weeks. Spent about 30-45 mins rambling stuff to one of my long-distance writing friends one morning. I’ve also got more notes to add, once I remember them. Haven’t really forgotten them as much as I’ve just shunted them into a spot in my memory that’s going to require some focused time coaxing to release the ideas again. Years ago, I used to do this all the time, but I’ve fallen out of practice, so it takes a little longer than usual. Reading through the notes I have already should help too. Right now, DH04-06’s playlist has all of one song, and I’m debating adding a couple of those from DH01-03’s playlist. Not sure I’m ready to hear those on a regular basis again though.

So that’s where things stand on my Fool’s Errand. Next week, I’ll try to remember to post on Saturday—November 3rd. After I call and wish my sister a happy birthday, of course.

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