October Retro and NaNo Updates

Well folx, if you haven’t seen the news on Twitter, I have quit my software development job and am now working full-time as a writer! This…doesn’t mean much in a “employment” sense at the moment. I’m not published anywhere nor have I made any money yet, but I’m living the dream! 

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

That about sums up the blog, and I guess I can quit now – juuuuuust kidding. Not only do I not count this (it was more of a “I’m literally dying in this job and have to bail and we have the funds to do so” kind of thing), but even after getting published and whatnot I want to still blog about what it’s like. Plus there’s always something to say about ways to improve, and I’ll of course always be improving myself as well.

One thing I’ll say for now is that I haven’t had to think too hard about anything the past 6+ months, so sitting down to do writing-related work that all requires thinking and planning and creativity and organizing was a) so much fun and b) exhausting. I am having to do a lot of mental adjustment, but it is well worth it.

So, how did a week of full-time writing pan out?

Monthly Totals

Total words written: 13,620
Days worked: 17
Average WPD (words per day): 801.2

Last Month’s Goals

  • Prepapalooza articles finished
  • Get myself prepped for NaNoWriMo
  • Finish reading research books for novel

What went well

  • I quit! I no longer work for anyone but myself.
  • On the first, I got my first piece of personalized (and lovely) feedback from a submission I turned in, so definitely cause for celebration
  • I have FINALLY figured out the bigger chunks of my NaNoWriMo story, both the basic plot as well as the progress points I want to happen.
  • Got to take a little vacation from writing since I was going to be starting up full time the last week of the month.
  • More personal notes: My birthday happened (I’m old af) and I started to learn how to be a person at work instead of an anxious ball of nonsense. Not that this is going to matter much now…maybe if I even have/want to go back to working for someone else.

What didn’t go well

  • I started burning out again starting at the beginning of the month. This is actually what prompted me to quit sooner than expected and why I really needed to take that break from writing.
  • Now that I don’t have a “real” job to stress about anymore, I’m just finding all new things to be anxious about (this has since gotten under control, so don’t worry).
  • I didn’t meet the goal of getting everything as planned out for my novel as I wanted, including not having all the research done by the end of October as well. That’s okay though! Plenty of time to learn.

Goals for Next Month

  • Finish NaNoWriMo with 50,000 words at the very least.
  • That’s it. That’s the goal.

This will require me to work in a lot of planning sessions and some extra research occasionally (only when absolutely necessary, mind you!), but that’s basically what I’m focusing on right now. I’ll get more into the business side of working for myself after NaNo is over. 

My plan right now is to get into a groove where I can write a draft of a novel in a month while blocking out the whole world, and then get back into the social media/extra writing game after. I have no idea if I’ll ever be able to do that, or if I’ll want to once I have more experience, but that’s what I envision at the moment.

NaNoWriMo Update

Every day this month, I plan on recording how my day went as far as how many words written, how I’m feeling, how I’m staying motivated…generally anything that comes to mind after getting my minimum daily word count in (or not, we’ll see how it goes!). I’ll probably be brief for each of these entries, for obvious reasons, and then I’ll combine them together for an official update at the end of the week in lieu of a normal blog post. These are the entries for the very first week of NaNoWriMo 2020:

11.01.20

In order to keep myself from burning out, I promised that if I managed to get to write full-time, I would keep my weekends work free. At the very least, keep them writing and editing free if I needed to take care of other aspects of the business I could, hopefully without feeling like I am going to die at the end. This complicated NaNo for me. Today, the beginning of this challenge, is a Sunday, but I really wanted to make sure I got a word count in on the first day (gotta do it for the badge, son!). So I have decided I’m just going to waive this “no weekends” requirement for November, and just concentrate on getting my first draft finished. But how did it actually go?

Being a weekend, there were many different things that needed to be done and time that is set aside for my spouse (yeah I know, even though we’re locked in with each other we still like doing stuff together, go figure). After all was taken care of, I finally sat down to write and…felt like I had done zero prep for this. Every part of my (as of yet unfinished) outline fell flat and seemed so flimsy. I immediately saw all the flaws in my world and the order of events, and this completely took the wind out from me. But I wrote anyway, keeping track of my time spent with Toggl

One word in front of the other, friends. That’s the only way I’ll finish this. And, once it is finished, I’ll be able to figure out what’s wrong with what and fix it. Make it better. Make it awesome. 

Today’s word count: 1679 in 1:41:03. Not bad. Maybe I’ll do better tomorrow.

11.02.20

Today was my first full working day that I had to write for NaNo. There are still some other work items I need to take care of (such as the retrospective post and getting my homework worked on for class), but for the most part I wanted to concentrate on NaNo writing. I feel like it was even more difficult for me to complete today if I’m honest. Something isn’t quite sitting right with this story, and I can’t figure it out just yet. It might be the story or it might be me. Some thought holding me back or something. I’m not sure. 

It doesn’t help that today I was battling a headache of stupid proportions. 

Today’s word count: 1746 in 3:02:53. Not…great. But I’ll get there. 

I think tomorrow I might take some time to dissect what’s going on. Hopefully I can get settled into a groove by the end of the week or so.

11.03.20

Election day. I spent most of my morning writing time being angry at Past Charlie for not planning as well as I wanted to, and getting me stuck in a story that was passing harder than a kidney stone. I liked the general premise of the story, but something about it made it painful to write. I kept grabbing a scene from my piss-poor outline and writing like three sentences to cover everything I planned, and then going to the next scene.

While complaining about this to other writer friends (very important that you make these types of friends, by the way, they are the best), I started to form the question I needed to answer to fix everything. It took some exercise and a shower before I finally got it sorted. 

Fixing it got me super stoked to continue with my story and I ended up getting the word count I wanted before it was time to start obsessively checking election counts.

Today’s word count: 1709 in 1:26:49. Not bad at all! I’m hoping to eventually get to where I know enough of my story and know where I’m going with it enough that I can breeze past the 5k in a day mark. That might take awhile though. We’ll see.

11.04.20

Today, I found another issue with my novel, one completely different from the other. It started with not understanding the nature of the universe I was working in, leading me to do a little worldbuilding before I could continue. Just a little – literally just talking to myself in the shower for a little bit. Then today, I realized I had an issue with the story just not being enough. I worked on this one for quite awhile longer. It led to me fleshing out a B plot that already existed, just in a vague sort of way.

These set backs the past two days have inspired me to write an article in December or January all about how to troubleshoot your writing sessions when they aren’t going how you like them to. Basically if you’re sitting down to write and the words aren’t coming, what can you look for in what you’re feeling or how it’s going in order to know what you need to do to fix it? I have a feeling I’m going to have a lot more sessions like these – it’s the nature of the beast – but having a guide ready to help when my brain starts going numb will benefit me. I hope it will benefit you as well. 

Today I’ve hit a little over the minimum word count for NaNo. I’m going to take a little break from everything and then get into drawing up a better outline. Maybe that will help with tomorrow’s progress. A little work now hopefully will save me a boatload of time later.

Today’s word count: 1765 in 1:52:00. I’ll take it!

11.05.20

After spending each of these days kind of floundering around more than I would like, I decided to get to work on an outline and do some “scene work” today. What this means is I’ll actually sit down and write an outline (in the form of post-it notes on my wall), and then decide what scenes need to happen to make each of the major plot points or specific ideas I want to incorporate happen. I’m going to look at what is the goal I have for the scene, what are the goals of the characters in the scene, are they going to achieve those goals, how do they plan to go about it, and will there be some external thing that happens to disrupt what’s going on.

At least, that was the plan. I am still a bit stuck on the outline. Confidence is waning hard. It would have any way, but now this is my job, so I have extra self-consciousness about it. Which is natural whenever you start a new job, but that doesn’t stop it from sucking. 

Anyway, I have a much bigger chunk actually laid out in front of my eyeballs now, so that’s good. I’ll eventually get to what I need, but it’s going to be painful getting there I think.

Today’s word count: technically none. I made up a bunch of post its to map out points in the plot, though, so work has been done.

11.06.20

My spouse took some PTO today so that we could go hiking. It’s something that we’ve been planning and trying to do for awhile now, and we finally got to. It was great, but now I started working at about 1pm today. Time to try to catch up a bit.

(A few hours later)

That didn’t quite go as planned. I have a lot of doubts about this story and whether or not I’ve got enough of a grip on any part of it to actually tell it. I ended up doing a little more worldbuilding and plot hole plugging, and I’ve got it at enough of a place now that I can get some more scene work done tomorrow.

Today’s word count: 1050. Not great. Not bad. But progress is progress, no doubt about that. I kinda forgot to keep track of time today, but I think it was about 1.5 hours or so.

Today’s update will be included in next week’s updates, as it’s still early yet. Until then, good luck WriMos and have fun!


How has your NaNo been treating you, assuming you’re participating? If not, what ways have you been keeping sane in these crazy times? Any plans or goals you’ve made?

July Retrospective

This retro is a touched up version of what was prepared before July 29, 2020. On that morning, the best and sweetest creature I have ever known passed unexpectedly in my home, and I have been a mess of ups and (mostly) downs since. I appreciate your understanding as I try to recover. 

Monthly Totals

Total words written: ???
Days missed: a lot
Average WPD (words per day): not as many as I’d like

This month was CHAOS – I bought a new house, moved, and have been spending a lot of time not only making the new house a home, but also figuring out my next moves as far as my professional life goes. 

For just a taste of things I’m up to:

  • PATREON! Many times I will bring up that I have a blog to someone I know, and almost immediately they ask if I have a Patreon page. I am a little embarrassed to admit, but I never really interacted much with this site. After the fifth person asked me for a link, I finally decided to get with the times. The tiers and benefits, etc. will evolve as I figure everything out, but if you’d like to take advantage of it while also supporting my goal of being a full-time writer, please take a gander.
  • Medium. If you want to support me, but don’t really have the funds to do so directly, consider checking out (and sharing) my attempt at working with Medium. As an experiment, I’ve just imported a post from this blog into their site, but I will eventually be writing posts unique to Medium as well. 
  • A secret project! I was asked to collaborate with another peep on a project that I am absolutely stoked to start on, but I will not be sharing the information on here just yet. I will definitely be sharing it as soon as I can on Patreon first, naturally, so don’t be shy about being a little Mayhem-curious.

What Went Well

  • I got thrown out of whack in buying and moving into this house, but I am slowly starting to settle back into my writing groove. 
  • I now have my new writing space and it is beyond amazing. No longer am I in a literal closet or on the couch in someone else’s office. I have my own office that is quiet, bright, comfortable, and mine. I haven’t gotten my WRITING WALL set up just yet, but I have some neat plans for how to do this. More to come, naturally.
  • After needing to get myself back together again, I have found the ability to work through being sore, tired, hungover, or otherwise “not in the mood” to write. This is a lesson that everyone who wants to write professionally needs to understand: you can’t just not write every time something isn’t perfect. You will never produce enough work to make a living. I have known this, but haven’t yet seemed to be able to do this until recently. Maybe now that I have a place I can call my own, on top of pursuing other avenues for funding, I finally feel like I can take myself (even more) seriously. I am reading this line now, and I’m keeping it in because it is usually very true. But thinking about my current state, I think I can hear God laughing in my face about this idea.

Lessons Learned

  • I need more time to write! I wake up typically at about 6 am and keep hitting snooze until about 6:30. After which I go make coffee and stare into space until my brain caches up to my body at about 7 – sometimes even actually drinking the coffee in the process. My financially relevant job starts at about 9 am most days, so that gives me just two hours to do what I want to do. So I have changed my alarm to go off at 5 am every morning, and am trying not to snooze any longer than 5:30. It’s only an extra hour, but it feels like I get miles more work done. Miles? Piles? Llamas? I don’t actually know what you measure work in, but it’s more now than before.
  • As you probably already read in my post about research, a lot of what I have published on this blog is fluff, and I’m not a fan. While there’s nothing wrong with fluff exactly, I would like to have a habit and a reputation for writing something of a little more substance. That goes for both fiction and nonfiction. Plus, I’m here to learn, so let’s get to learning!

Goals or Action Items for Next Month

  • Set up my WRITING WALL. This will probably be a temporary set up at first, because I have some plans with magnetic and whiteboard paints for extra fancy, but I need something to get me back on track visually.
  • Get my Patreon more fleshed out and maybe actually have a patron or two.
  • Have a better business plan written up for what is, essentially, my writing business.
  • …learn how to write up a business plan. 
  • And of course: WRITE MORE. SUBMIT MORE. BE REJECTED MORE. Always a goal, not because I want to be rejected, but because the more rejections I get, the closer to acceptance I get!

What are your goals looking like for next month? How did your goals from last month turn out?