May Write Day: Is it Summer Yet?

April went by pretty quickly, but there has been movement in various streams of my life. I’ve gotten both doses of my COVID-19 vaccine, and we’ve started making real preparations for the new baby. I don’t think I’ve mentioned that yet. Baby #2 is due in late July, and we now have two cribs in one room. Sure hope the toddler doesn’t mind sharing!

I’m also quickly getting into my summer groove of not wearing socks and actively trying to get out of my house more. This will be an exciting summer.

Anyway, onto the goals.

Last Month’s Goals

  1. Write 6,000 words.
  2. Finish 3 books.
  3. Relax more, preferably outside.

Write 6,000 words?

I wrote 4,500 words in April, which is better than in March, but still not good enough. Towards the end of the month I started taking 20-30 minutes after I logged out of work to write a few hundred words, the idea being that I could probably be more productive by writing while my brain is still in work mode. It largely worked. This strategy helped me write about 2,000 words in the last week of April, but I started doing it too late in the month to catch up.

The first chapter of The Herb Witch Tales #1 is already several hundred words longer than in my previous draft. I’m also brainstorming a pretty big change to the middle of the story, diverting the characters from a particular locale and plot thread that was problematic to begin with. It could help me streamline the narrative a bit, but it also means writing more from scratch than I had originally planned on for part 1.

In any case, I want to accelerate my writing. The goal is to have these two stories complete by the time I go to my next convention. That may still be 12 months away (at least), but that’s not a whole lot of time in the publishing realm.

Finish 3 books?

Yes! I finished The Fellowship of the Ring, read a comic volume, and listened to Super Black on Audible, which I recommend to anyone interested in comics, history, or American culture.

I’m a quarter of the way through The Two Towers and nearly finished with another Audible short fiction. I’m already eyeing my next audiobook, but May is looking like a strong month for reading.

Relax more?

I think so. We had a couple weekends hanging with family, which is always nice. The toddler has a push bicycle — one without training wheels or pedals that he just pushes with his feet — but he discovered wheelbarrow rides at his grandparents’ house last weekend. Guess which one he preferred?

The last couple weeks have been more relaxing, mostly because I completed a big work project that was taking up a ton of my headspace. But like I said at the top, I’m quickly settling into summer, which means a lot of lounging, walking, or wandering outside.

Goals for May

  1. Write 7,500 words. 6,000 plus the 1,500 I missed in April. I really want to make some better progress on these stories.
  2. Work out at least every other day again. I’ve fallen off this a bit, so I want to do more yoga and resistance training together. I feel like I need more aerobic exercise, too. I could always go running, but I find that very boring. I’m open to ideas.
  3. Read 3 books. I’m well on my way already, but I’m also not trying to rush through Tolkien.

Steve D

March Write Day: Monotones

Monotonous. That is how I would sum up my February. Whether it was stress at work, an uneventful social calendar, or lackluster exercise progress, February was not great for me mentally, physically, or otherwise. I’m not sure why this monotony hit me now as opposed to any other time in pandemic times, but it did.

I’m glad we’ve entered a new month, because I need something to break me out of this funk.


Last Month’s Goals

  1. Write 6,855 words for The Herb Witch Tales #2.
  2. Do more yoga and resistance training.
  3. Finish 4 books.

Write 6,855 words?

Nope. I buried the lead by saying I didn’t make much exercise progress, but I also didn’t make much writing progress! I wrote about 3,300 words in February, which isn’t terrible, but I’m definitely not proud of it. I just lost motivation about halfway through the month for reasons other than my story.

In the last week of the month, I decided to begin the third draft of Uprooted, giving myself a break from drafting its sequel by hand in a journal. I wrote over 500 words in one short sitting, I wish I had turned to this story earlier in the month. I probably could have gotten a lot more done.

My as yet untitled part 2 is still coming along, just not as quickly as I would like. I’m at a pivotal point in the story where tension between two characters is supposed to be escalating, and I’m having trouble hitting the right emotional notes. Now that I’m more than two-thirds of the way towards my total word count goal of 38k, I also have my sights set on the ending. So, this is just an important point int he drafting process that I simply did not have the determinaiton to attack in February.

I’m hoping that revisiting part 1 and shoring up some of the larger issues with these stories in that draft will help me prepare for the ending of part 2.

Do more yoga and resistance training?

I started off strong but fell off my routine a bit towards the end of the month. When I’m in a funk, everything tends to spiral, so I’m not surprised this happened. Luckily, I’ve already started off on a good foot in March, so I’m not too worried. I like exercising regularly way more than I like not doing that. I just need to make it a point to do so during the day.

You’ll see this in my goals for this month, but I really want to focus on exercising more consistently, and continuing to add variety to my routine.

Finish 4 books?

No, but I’m not taking full blame for this one. I finished two books in February and am most of the way through three others. I got stuck on Crossroads of Twilight, which became even more of a slog of a book than I thought last month. I just didn’t feel like reading it, which may be the first time that’s happened with a Wheel of Time novel. Luckily, I’ve reached a point in the book that’s a bit more interesting. At this point, I just want to finish the damn thing so I can complain about it in my review.

On a positive note, I’ve dipped back into comics for my reading for the first time in probably… two decades. I’ve really enjoyed the MCU films, and particularly Thor, so I wanted to read some of the more recent Thor comics. With Thor: Love and Thunder coming out in the relative future, and rumors flying around about Jane Foster as Thor, I settled on Jason Aaron’s run with the Thor comics from about 2012 forward. He wrote the series, Thor: God of Thunder, that eventually leads to Jane Foster taking up the hammer and continued the arc from there.

So I’m buying the collected volumes of those issues wherever I find them. Currently on volume two, Godbomb, and really enjoying it. As a friend and avid comics reader told me recently, Marvel’s “Marvel Now” run of comics in the late 00’s and early 2010’s was designed to bring in non-comics readers by resetting a lot of their characters’ stories and not bogging them down with decades of canon. Which is just… I’m the precise audience for this.

That’s honestly one of the highlights of February for me.

Goals for March

  1. Write 6,000 words. I don’t care which of my Herb Witch Tales drafts I end up putting more time into this month. I just want to hit my word count goal. More than likely I will work on each as the mood takes me, which is probably for the better anyway.
  2. Work out at least every other day. This is a slightly different goal, but is more to the point of my exercise routine. If I take more than one day off in a row, I start to feel it physically and mentally. So, regardless of how many days I work out this month, I just don’t want to let my days off take away from my routine.
  3. Finish 4 books. Okay, I really am in the best position possible to do this in March. I have 200 pages left in Crossroads, barely a chapter left in an audiobook, and a freaking comic to finish. I should be able to finish each of those this week without trying, and easily polish off another book by April.

Steve D

February Write Day: Movement

January went somewhat fast in retrospect, but in the moment it felt like the longest month since… October. A lot happened, and about the only things keeping me from losing my mind to utter despair about the world are spending time with my son and having my existentialist grounding reinforced by some appropriate reading.

Did that get too dark? That was probably too dark. Onto the goals! Continue reading “February Write Day: Movement”

July Write Day: The Return of the Summer Doldrums!

June was a slow month on the writing front, and kind of on every front. It’s yet another month that passed by so quickly, yet I can’t say with much confidence what I did.

We did a ton of work on our cellar, I suppose. It’s an old brick foundation with some cement, and we spent three or four weekends in a row filling in gaps and cracks with hydraulic cement, then painting over it all with water-sealing paint. We’re still not done.

As much as that stuff needs to get done, it definitely ate up my weekend downtime. But, no excuses!

Last Month’s Goals

  1. Finish the second draft of “Uprooted”.
  2. Write 12,000 words.
  3. Continue reading.
  4. Continue doing yoga daily (or almost daily).

So how did I do?

Finish the second draft of “Uprooted”?

No! Ugh, I have no idea what I did in June… aside from watching Community and sealing and painting our cellar.

What’s crazy is that I did not have an objectively bad writing month, it just looks so compared with the stellar progress I made in April and May. I wrote 4,031 words in June, but quite a bit of it was rewriting a pivotal section that I simply did not like from my first draft.

I had transcribed it the previous month, but then found that I couldn’t continue. It just didn’t feel right. So after mulling it over for way too long, I decided to change the scene entirely. That process of rethinking this one section of the story really slowed me down in the first couple weeks of June.

The rest of the time, I was just lazy. We’re going on a trip this weekend to a (socially distanced, non-touristy) family vacation home, and I’ve been looking forward to it all month. My brain started to slip into vacation mode, which always seems to happen to me around this time of year. Anyone remember this post?

Anyway, I didn’t make nearly as much progress as I had wanted to on “Uprooted”, but I’m not going to expend energy beating myself up about it. Maybe this was the mental hiatus I needed. Plus, I’m looking forward to starting part 2 longhand this weekend, while sitting by a lake sipping tasty concoctions.

Write 12,000 words?

I just realized that I had separate goals for finishing a draft and total word count, but the previous section flows pretty well and I’m not changing it. See above.

Continue reading?

Yes, but not as much as I may have liked. I’m just about finished my second Audible Original for the month, which always run short, but I haven’t read much in the way of paper pages recently. I’m just not yet into the fantasy book I had picked up, but I’m going to keep plugging away at it.

Strangely, a random post from a friend on Facebook led me down a rabbit-hole of Warhammer 40,000 related content, so I’ve been reading a ton of articles on a fan site. I started with the Night Lords and keep finding more things to read. Man, I miss that game. So expensive, though.

Continue doing yoga?

Yes! My one big achievement in June! I haven’t done it every day, but it has definitely been most days. I’m still using Sarah Beth Yoga on YouTube, and I now have a few favorites I’ll go back to for specific types of exercise, focusing on specific areas, etc. But, I’ve branched out a lot to and have made an effort to try new videos each week.

What’s great about yoga is that my workout can change depending on my mood. Some days I need high-intensity strength training. Some days I’m sore and want to loosen up. Other days, I just want to feel relaxed. Yoga gives me all of that, which has been incredible for my mental health as much as physical.

Goals for July

  1. Actually finish “Uprooted — The Herb Witch Tales #1”. I don’t think I’ll have a problem finishing. I’m now over a bit of a plot hump that coincided with the summer doldrums, and I genuinely want to complete this draft.
  2. Write 10,000 words. I’m going back to basics. Word counts sometimes put the wrong kind of pressure on my writing. I don’t care what I write for part 1 as long as I finish. Drafting part 2 longhand will be a longer process, especially starting out, so I’m aiming lower than last month.
  3. Continue with yoga and hit the gym. My gym is open with social distancing policies in place, so I want to get back into weight training. The good news is that I feel physically ready to do so, without the pressure of jumping into it too fast. For the first time in 15 years, weight training is now the complement to my exercise staple: yoga.
  4. Find a way to read more. Listening to audiobooks are basically the only thing I miss about driving all the time, but I can definitely be doing more. I still need to pad my 2020 reading goal for GoodReads posterity.

Steve D

January Write-Day: New Year, New Adventures

December was a fun month. I’ll get into it a bit more with my goal review, but we got to watch our one-year-old open gifts and really be excited to play with new toys for the first time.

Writing time was limited due to the holidays, but that frankly wasn’t surprising. I’ve been productive in other ways, effectively planning how things are going to go on this site for this year. More on that in a few days. Continue reading “January Write-Day: New Year, New Adventures”