Ashe Elton Parker

A Writer of LGBTQ+ Characters in Speculative Fiction

Tag: UL (page 1 of 2)

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.

22Oct18: Movie Night a Day Late

Monday night game was canceled pretty early in the afternoon because Christian and Steffanie, the hosts, were going to a play instead. Over the rest of the afternoon, I chatted with Mom, got my AEP post up here, neatened my living room from Sunday’s grocery trip (picked up all the reusable grocery bags). At some point, Varick contacted me about holding Movie Night that night since we hadn’t been able to meet on Sunday, and I agreed. So Varick came to my place, and I did my languages before we met with Daz, and we all headed up to Smith’s to get the makings for a fancy hearty ramen meal before we settled in for the movie. It was all yummy, and I couldn’t even finish my entire bowl, so Daz and Varick split it between them. After that, we settled in to watch Iron Man, which was an incredibly fun ride. We put the house in order before Daz and Varick left after the movie, and I settled in to meet my writing goal. Instead of 250 words, I did another plot card on Unwritten Letters since I’d finished writing out the last plot card.

10Oct18: Productive Wednesday

Wednesday was wildly productive for a day that I spent most of away from home. Part of it was getting stuff done in the wee hours before going to bed. I actually edited 3 chapters of DH03 and wrote my Fool’s Errand post before going to bed.

After I slept, I wrote yesterday’s AEP post, a plot card for UL, and practiced my languages. Went to play MTG and Pathfinder, but nobody showed up for MTG. Had a good Pathfinder session, though. I think I also chatted with my mom on the phone. All in all, a good day!

9Oct18: Busy Busy Volunteer Shift

Tuesday got off to a bit of a rough start, but it went well afterward, with me attending my volunteer shift. I took my laptop and graph paper, but I didn’t get to do much work on anything because it was very busy last night. 7 groups in all, including a public safety persons meeting complete with fire trucks, food, and swag. I got a pic of myself with the firemen. Need to bug the public safety woman who took the pics to text or email them to me. Should had her use my camera.

When I got home, I did my languages and worked on UL. Finished off a scene. There’s more about that and other things on my Fool’s Errand site. Also scheduled a mini-painting session with Kit and rescheduled my mammogram. All in all, a good day!

Nine Days In

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

The first 7+ days of actual writing have gone very well. Better, actually, than I expected. I seriously thought I’d let myself get distracted 3 or 4 days into October and move on to something else (if I was lucky), or simply give up. Instead, of the past 9 days, I’ve added words on 5 and actually brainstormed for another story on another day, so that makes a total of 6 days with some sort of writing task done. Much better than I expected out of the first 9 days of my Fool’s Errand.

In these first 9 days, I’ve added one scene of 1,647 words to Unwritten Letters. I’ve averaged about 330 words per day of writing, with October 2nd having the lowest count (247) and October 1st having the highest count (399). Writing time took about 10-15 minutes, but I round down my start times (if I start at :12 after the hour, I record it as :10 after the hour) and round up my end times (if I end at :12 after after the hour I record it as :15 after the hour).

My goal was to write, or do some writing-related task, 5 days a week, and I managed that the first week. Monday of this week (the 8th), I didn’t actually work at all on UL, but I did do some writing-related task. This was brainstorming on another project I’ve not made much progress on the past couple of years, Discordant Harmonies 4-6, whose titles are now up in the air. I got stuck on this project after DH03 because I had no idea where the next three books would go, and I’ve been waiting for some major epiphanies on them for at least a couple of years. Glad to finally have gotten those epiphanies, so I’m not going to complain about them coming “out of order” so to speak.

One of my other goals in this Fool’s Errand was to be flexible with my writing goals, but not too flexible. What I mean is, I wanted to allow myself some leeway in changing my mind on what projects to focus on, so if something popped up I’d allow myself to switch to it if it wasn’t too out of line. Since I haven’t actually decided on projects #2 and #3, I’ve got a bit more leeway than originally intended, but I’m comfortable with this. UL is going well enough that I should be able to finish it before I move on, so I’ve got plenty of time to figure out what I’m doing next. Being too flexible would mean I was allowing whim to direct my writing habit to the point of either dropping out of my 5-day-a-week writing habit, adjusting my minimum goal above 250 (because I’m consistently doing more, when the low goal is actually enabling me to look forward to writing, as opposed to dreading it), or hopping from one project to another according to whatever strikes my fancy.

Part of my goal with this has been to reestablish some discipline in my writing habit. That means I’m doing my best to hold myself to my 5-days-a-week goal, and that I’m going to make myself tell projects that start jumping up and down to wait their turn. For a while after 2003, I was able to firmly tell new ideas to wait their turn in line. One of the things that has broken down in the past decade and more is that ability to control my own creative urges well enough to focus on one project at a time. It used to work pretty well, and then, well, I sort of lost my ability to do that as time wore on. Well, I gave up on it, I guess is more to the point. DH01 held my attention firmly enough I was able to complete it within a few months of starting with very little distraction, but after that, I again gave up on that discipline. I think to make any progress on anything in the future, I need to reestablish that important little personal limit.

I’ve actually got more stuff in my head for DH04-06 right now. Need to sort through all my notes on the project and start organizing things, which I’ll probably do in Scapple. Right now, I’d really like to make the first of these books my next goal in my Fool’s Errand, because I’ve missed the characters who star in the series. I want to see how they’ll grow and develop over the next three books, and I’ve never, ever forgotten how important their stories are to me. DH01 got me back into writing speculative fiction after a year of hell with the gay romances I’d learned to hate, and I’ve always wanted to complete the series. DH04-09 have never been very far from my mind, no matter how little I actually did with them. It feels good to get back to them, and I’m sure I’ll love working on the next set of books in this series as much as I enjoyed writing books 1-3.

So that’s where things stand on my Fool’s Errand. I’m pleased with my progress so far, and I’m looking forward to making more.

I Remembered Something

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

It’s been a mildly frustrating evening for me. The past few hours, I’ve been restless and unfocused, trying to find something to distract myself with. Finally, I’ve chosen my top pick—the first project—I had for my Fool’s Errand project, Unwritten Letters. I originally intended to do a bit of a read through on it, but I remembered something about it.

Not only do I have a number of handwritten one-liners for the last scenes, but I actually have a Scapple file with the last several scenes listed. See, the last time I worked on UL, I buckled down and got these last dozen or so scenes very briefly sketched out in preparation for fully plotting them. Then I moved away from the project and abandoned it again when I couldn’t figure out an essential bit in the first scene listed in this way.

So now I have a clear idea of the ending of UL, and reading through these listed scenes is giving me ideas for plotting them. I’ve shuffled one or two to better fit in the chronology. For instance, I thought an engagement announcement a couple characters make later on in this lineup would be better positioned earlier in the lineup. Stuff like that.

What I have to do now is figure out what the prophetic dream Merolén has is in the first listed scene, and then I can finish plotting this story out. It feels good to be working on this again, and I feel enthusiastic about it. This project may well be finished in a timely manner now.

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