How to Get It Written: I Make Progress #amwriting

I’m surprised that this year, Daylight Savings Time (DST) is only a minor divot in my productivity. Most years it lands me on my butt for two weeks or more. Here’s what I think is different:

  • DST may be bad, but more daylight in general is good. I’m getting out in it, too.
  • I’m solidly on my keto diet, more solidly than I’ve been for three months.
  • I’m really focusing on using the tools I’ve found helpful and ditching those that aren’t.
    Handwriting is my new super tool. (Image courtesy of IndypendenZ at http://FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

    I’ve found that revising a novel outline (or even creating one! but that’s another post…) is difficult, so I spent some time setting up a system to be sure that I can use my best tools.

  • Limiting how far I can wander when distracted. It’s way too easy for me to go crazy writing in the index card/synopsis area of Scrivener. I’ve abandoned projects before because I’d put Too. Much. Information. into the outline. Now that I’m using a variant of Save the Cat! Writes a Novel (Jessica Brody) outlining, physical index cards for outlining are a suggestion. The nice thing about physical index cards is that there’s a limit to how much I can put on one; the crummy thing is that getting them back into Scrivener is a pain. So I artificially limit the size of my Scrivener synopses. I feel better if each synopsis (beat) only contains the amount of info I can jam onto a 5″×3″ index card (11 lines of 43 old-fashioned typewritten characters each.) Yes, I counted. Yes, I’m obsessive. Sue me.

  • Handwriting. Misery, thy name is “dictation,” but I find that typing is not ideal for my fiction, either. It works for my nonfiction, but my fiction works better if I handwrite. Everything. (Not on paper! I use a handwriting keyboard.) When I’m stuck, I get antsy and want to have a pencil in my hand. Today I spent some time setting up both my iPad and my iPhone to be effective handwriting editors for those 437 characters. I now have a smooth outlining workflow from Scrivener Mac to the iThings and back.

The result? I managed to get seven Save the Cat!-style beats revised today. The appropriate sections affected by changed beats are marked for intensive revision. I feel like I can rip right along now and get all the stuff I dictated in November docketed and slated for revision in a week.

Damn! That is amazing! Here’s hoping it’s not a flash in the pan.

It’s February. Again.

It doesn’t fail.

Seasonal affective disorder has gotten me again. Illness (including looking forward to two surgeries, oh boy) hasn’t helped. I’m sort of keeping on writing, but I haven’t made the progress I’d like. (A big surprise. Again.)

I’ve been using handwriting input to make what progress I’ve made. Handwritten input jumpstarts my writing, although it doesn’t help me proceed with speed. Next post, for sure, I’ll put up an article about the current state of iOS handwriting input, both keyboards and standalone apps.

Universe, This Is Not What I Ordered #amwriting

I ordered an easy transition back to Keto.

I also ordered my leg injury and my infection to be healed by now, along with a side of increasing word count on my novel.

Instead, Universe, you’ve handed me a plate of a second tough withdrawal from carbs, a leg injury that still looks like someone spilled blue-black ink all over my calf, a fourth course of antibiotics (this one for 20 days, of which I’ve completed five) and, for dessert, the incipient return of my seasonal affective disorder.

Image courtesy of Thirdparty at http://FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Not cool, Universe. If you were a restaurant, you’d get a 1-star review on Yelp.

What’s that you say? I have only myself to blame? That I know the consequences of inadequate rest and poor diet? That I already figured out that I need to get out into sunlight every single damned day?

Pooh. Someday, I hope I stop doing the same thing and expecting different results.

I Met the Short Story Deadline #amwriting

I did it! I managed to get an entire Fraser and Spencer story into 4000 words, and submit it by Los Angeles NaNo’s deadline.

After I turned it in, I slept for about 2 days.

I learned a lot about how my own creativity works, and what it takes—for me—to get a well-structured story out fast.

Now I hope that what I learned scales up to novels.

I also have a decision to make: I’m going on a Road Trip. Yes, I’ll be spending three weeks bopping around the US Southwest in a car with Hubby and Number Two Son. Should I even bother with April Camp NaNoWriMo? I’m going to be busy: driving, checking out communities as possible retirement destinations, and attending a niece’s wedding.

…Yes, I think I should. I’ve always had more success with April and June Camps NaNoWriMo than with the big November push. It won’t hurt me to sign up. I might even finish my novel! And I certainly should take advantage of the upside of my SAD (seasonal affective disorder.)

February Blues Update #amwriting

The February blues are getting better, slowly.

Sunrise image courtesy of Teerapun at http://FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Yes, I am getting better. I’m even getting work done. Getting outside really helps with the seasonal affective disorder (SAD), and days when I don’t—well, it hits me the next day, really. I find myself trying to hibernate—sitting on the couch, falling asleep with or without television, and eating far too much high-carbohydrate food. Gotta store up that fat against winter! Jeez.

But I’m trying not to blame myself, and Just Get Out the next day.

I’ve started a new short story that I would like to submit to an anthology—submission deadline is March 23. I’ll keep you posted.

Thursdays in Santa Clarita, Or the Importance of Technology #amwriting

Today, like every Thursday, I’m spending the day in Santa Clarita, California. It’s not the most exciting place in the world, and it’s thirty miles from my home in the San Fernando Valley. But my husband works here, and every Thursday evening we have a date here. So I usually come up early.

I spend most of my time in one of the older sections of the community, Newhall. The Old Town Newhall library is lovely and a good place to do some writing. But until I had my February Blues SAD wake–up call, I ignored William S. Hart Park.

The highest tech movie star’s home in 1920s Los Angeles County—the William S. Hart ranch.

The park offers light hiking, wildlife, and lots of sunshine. I’ve even taken the ranch house tour. I found myself identifying with the old actor—Mr. Hart really liked his tech. In the 1920’s, he spared no expense to electrify everything in his domain—a radio in every room. An electric record player. A projection room. An electric buzzer to summon the next course from the kitchen in his dining room. A for-Gosh-sake intercom. Yes, an electric refrigerator. They didn’t have electric food warmers, so he had a lower-tech food warmer installed in his dining room (a fireplace with a very small firebox underneath a huge stone slab, called a French food warmer.)

My, my. Now I don’t feel quite so bad with my MacBook Air, iPad, Fitbit, and iPhone. And our own home intercom. And our smart thermostat. And every other member of the family also having a laptop and iPhone, and tablet if desired. And our cable TV and internet and HD screen and Apple TV (Mind you, all this while the plumbing needs… oh, a lot of work. And my wardrobe is… challenged. Tech comes before shoes or more than one working shower. Seriously.)

Time to go back to writing fiction on my tech. And yes, I have been writing fiction. I haven’t reached the daily word counts I’d like to see, but something is better than nothing. Heigh-ho!

February Blues. Again. #amwriting

I’ve been porting my old blog posts to Ulysses, and I’ve noticed a disturbing pattern. Every February I post about how discouraged and hopeless I feel.

Every. Single. Freaking. February. For the last four years, at least.

Image courtesy of Sira Anamwong at http://FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Not only that, but my productivity and mood pick up by April. Every year.

Well, 2018 is no different. Or at least, it wasn’t until last week. I felt like giving up. Again.

I look to blame someone or something when I feel down, usually me. I start thinking I’m not good enough, not smart enough, not focused enough, I’m ADHD so why should I bother trying…

But look at the pattern, Dragon. After November your productivity starts falling. You blame the holidays. Yet it continues to fall, and you become alarmed as the end of January passes and your words aren’t flowing. By mid-February, you’re crying and desperate. And you start yet another revision of your productivity system, you change something about your work situation, and by April things are turning around… again.

It’s not my attitude. It’s seasonal affective disorder. Again. And if it’s this bad in so-called Sunny Southern California, no wonder that I loathed the Massachusetts weather while I was at university, even as I was delighted with Boston culture. I always struggled during the spring semester, falling behind in February and playing catch-up for the rest of the term. Duh. And I was able to catch up usually by April or May. Also duh. Mumble years ago, the pattern was already there.

So this time, I’m doing something different, unrelated to ADHD or productivity. For the last week, I’ve gotten outdoors during daylight hours for at least half an hour a day, and it’s been helping. I no longer feel as angry with myself (or others.) I’m keeping up my family responsibilities. My writing productivity hasn’t quite turned around yet, but I’m no longer thinking, “What’s the use?” every time I look at my word count.

I’ve tried the light boxes and the light visors in the past, and they haven’t done a lot of good. So it’s about time I tried good old California sunshine. Every day. I’ll keep in touch.