Daily Update, or Launching a New Novel

Land Lubbers: Sea Legs Launched
Land Lubbers: Sea Legs Launched

Current Word Count Stats

Today: [postwc] | Month: [postmonthwc] | Year: [postyearwc]

 Today

I had today off from the Day Job, but I had another job to complete today. Yesterday I finished a new short story and I was trying to decide whether or not to try and start my new novel, or start a new short story.

I really wanted to get underway with the new novel. A few years ago I wrote the first Land Lubbers novel, Cabin Boys. I haven’t released it yet because I wanted to do illustrations at the start of each chapter and I hadn’t really started practicing my drawing/painting skills at the time. But it was a book that I enjoyed writing.

Interestingly, it was a novel inspired by a craft activity for kids during the Summer Reading Program at the library. While I was setting up the craft I had the idea, and during my break I had written down the key details of what would become the first novel a few months later when I started writing it in the fall. It was one of those cases when the inspiration is so strong that I simply had to write the book.

Since then, I’ve wanted to get back to those characters, and I had put the second and third book on my calendar for this year.

The Benefits of Outlines

I don’t outline books before I write. I trust my creative unconscious to tell the story that needs to be told, so I don’t really plan out my novels ahead of time. I may write a one page summary of what I think will happen, but then I rarely refer back to that or feel compelled to stick to it, when I write. For me (and all writers are different) outlining kills my interest in the project.

I have outlined. I’ve done index cards, scene outlines, chapter outlines, brief ones and detailed ones. When it comes to writing the book, though, I’ve found it works best not to have an outline ahead of time.

Outlines do have their place in my workflow. Especially when it comes to series. I wrote Cabin Boys years ago. I sent it to my Kindle and started reading to get a feel for the story and the characters, but what I really needed was an outline of the book. I needed to remind myself of the details of what happened, who all the characters were, and what the rules are in that world.

That’s what I spent my time today doing. After running errands this morning, I came back and worked for a time on the next story to release, preparing files, and then I started the outline.

Chapter by chapter, I reviewed the previous novel and made notes. I made a character list. I noted important details. I went through the entire book from first to last page. And you know what? I enjoyed it.

Now, if I was smart, I would have created the outline as I went while I wrote the book. Then I could have reviewed it, read over key sections and been ready to jump back into this world much faster. That’s what I think I’ll do in the future, whether or not I plan to write more books, just so I have a quick way to review my novels.

Because I spent so many hours working on the outline, I didn’t  have much time left to write. I got started, though, and kept my streak going. That’s enough for today. Tomorrow I’ll try and get my word count back up where I like. In terms of overall word count, outline plus this post, I wrote quite a bit, but I only count new fiction in my tracking.

To catch up on other posts in this series, check out the contents page: Working Creatively With a Day Job.

If you enjoy these posts, please comment and share with others. It does take time that could be spent on other projects, so if you want to show additional support, consider picking up copies of my books or stories either for your own enjoyment, or for someone else.

Daily Update, or Finishing, and Again

Truth-Seeker
Truth-Seeker

Current Word Count Stats

Today: [postwc] | Month: [postmonthwc] | Year: [postyearwc]

 Today

Today was one of those days when I knew the Day Job was going to impact my creative efforts. It was a good day, but a busy one that wouldn’t give me a chance to really get off by myself for breaks when I could write. No breaks, really, since I was always “on” conversing with interesting supporters of the library. It was the annual Friends & Board Forum for all of the library supporters. Among other things, I was co-presenting about local authors and what the library is doing to develop more of a local author collection.

Knowing that I wouldn’t have much time, I made sure to get to bed at a reasonable hour last night so I could get a good night’s sleep. Unfortunately the dog and the child determined that sleep wasn’t going to really happen. On the one hand they did me a favor because I ended up getting up early and that gave me more time to take a ride on my trike this morning, and to work on my current short story before I had to leave and drive an hour out to Shelton. So (lack of sleep aside) it ended up being a good morning.

After getting home I spent another half hour writing and finished up the short story. That’s the third short story I’ve finished since I completed my last novel. The question to decide tomorrow is whether to start the next novel now, or do one more story.

The other fun thing today was the reissue of my short story Truth-Seeker, now available from Glittering Throng Press (and retailers) in e-book and print editions. This is a story that originally came out under my retired pen name, Michael Burges. Now the story is out in my preferred edition, under my name as I continue to reissue and release my work.

Tomorrow starts my weekend — which will likely be full of other activities than writing or illustrating, but I’ll find some time to create something new.

To catch up on other posts in this series, check out the contents page: Working Creatively With a Day Job.

If you enjoy these posts, please comment and share with others. It does take time that could be spent on other projects, so if you want to show additional support, consider picking up copies of my books or stories either for your own enjoyment, or for someone else.

Daily Update, or Finding Small Rewards

Small Rewards
Small Rewards 

Current Word Count Stats

Today: [postwc] | Month: [postmonthwc] | Year: [postyearwc]

 Today

Working creatively while also holding a day job presents ongoing challenges. The day job might be great (or not), but either way there are likely to be times when you wish that you could just focus on your art. You might be in the middle of a project and wish to keep focusing on it, but then you have to leave to go to the day job.

That can be tough. It can be really hard to interrupt the creative flow to go off and work for someone else. That’s not to say that the day job isn’t rewarding — but even if it is that doesn’t mean the interruption is always welcome.

Maybe other days it is welcome, if you’re struggling with your creative work and you just need to step away for a time.

No matter what you end up juggling the various demands on your time and energy. Art, the day job, family, exercise, obligations, chores, and entertainment all take time. At any one point any of those things can take priority.

When you do have a moment try to find some small way to reward yourself. I have a weakness when it comes to Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. For me a few minutes to read a book, and enjoy some ice cream is a great reward. (By the way, April 8th is Free Cone Day at Ben & Jerry’s shops, I’ll be at work, but if you can make it fun!)

I didn’t accomplish everything that I might have wanted to do today, but I did fairly well, and continued to work on my new story today. I may have it done tomorrow? I don’t know. It’ll be done when it’s finished.

I also checked out a new book from the library:


I’m looking forward to reading it and incorporating more into my training. And today I saw that they announced the end of the gladiators in the Spartan Race as they work to get the sport recognized as an Olympic event.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-9gluME41ZU

Goodbye Gladiators! It’s too bad they won’t be there when I do my race, but I’m not that bothered by the change.

To catch up on other posts in this series, check out the contents page: Working Creatively With a Day Job.

If you enjoy these posts, please comment and share with others. It does take time that could be spent on other projects, so if you want to show additional support, consider picking up copies of my books or stories either for your own enjoyment, or for someone else.

Daily Update, or Finding the Fun

Explore With Wonder
Explore With Wonder

Current Word Count Stats

Today: [postwc] | Month: [postmonthwc] | Year: [postyearwc]

 Today

Spring is coming and the buds are branching out. I was looking back at pictures of this last winter, which was pretty mild here, and was struck by one of the pictures of my son out in our one significant snowfall. I used the picture as reference for the sketch above.

In the picture he’s thrilled to be bundled up in a snowsuit that was too big, out in the early morning to play in the snow. He’s delighted in getting outside to play. The thing that  doesn’t show in the picture is that he was sick. We had considered not letting him out because of it, but ended up deciding that it would be a shame for him to miss his chance at having fun in the snow, especially since there was a good chance he wouldn’t get another opportunity this winter (which ended up true).

We all went out. He tromped around with the dog. He ate snow. We threw snowballs and had fun for a while and then went back inside.

His response to not feeling well wasn’t to pull up the covers and feel sorry for himself. He has a kid’s enthusiasm. He might not feel good, but he’s an expert at finding the fun in the day. On that day it was playing in the snow.

I didn’t feel great today. I didn’t  get out and run this morning because I decided to work on getting my next story release ready. All day I haven’t felt great. Not really sick, but achy and tired. It wasn’t one of my higher energy days.

I still wanted to find the fun. Getting the story ready to release. Writing the new story that I’m working on right now. Reading over the book before the one that I’m planning to start soon. Reading just for the fun of it. Watching Arrow.

If I didn’t find the fun, then the day would be kinda pointless, wouldn’t it?

To catch up on other posts in this series, check out the contents page: Working Creatively With a Day Job.

If you enjoy these posts, please comment and share with others. It does take time that could be spent on other projects, so if you want to show additional support, consider picking up copies of my books or stories either for your own enjoyment, or for someone else.

Daily Update, or Avoiding Creative Extinction

Avoiding Extinction
Avoiding Extinction

 

Current Word Count Stats

Today: [postwc] | Month: [postmonthwc] | Year: [postyearwc]

 Today

After waking up several times throughout the night, I finally rolled out of bed shortly before 5:00 AM and convinced myself that I really wanted to go out for a run. I went out and did 3:58 miles, but it took 45m:59s, including burpees and swinging across the monkey bars.

Heading out the frogs were singing to the stars. It was lovely, and I just didn’t have any energy today. I plugged away at it anyway. Along the way my shins and calves hurt. I was moving slow and struggling. It wasn’t fun.

It’s possible to tough it out when things get hard. At least for a time. The same thing happens with creative efforts. Some days it’s not as much fun, but you get through it and have fun other days. But if it’s always a tough slog, then maybe it’s time to think of something else to do. Find something that is going to ignite those creative fires. For me it’s about having fun.

Today I didn’t have a project to work on. I finished one story yesterday, and I wasn’t ready to start the next novel yet (but I want to do so soon), so I needed something else to work on.

At lunch I went and sat outside on the picnic table outside the library, enjoying the sun. For the first few minutes while I was brainstorming I really was hitting empty. Then I reminded myself that I wanted to have fun. I took something from my day that really had nothing to do with anything and was off and running on a new science fiction story. The words poured out and soon I was off on another world, wrapped up in a new character, and having fun.

If I wasn’t having fun it wouldn’t be worth doing. All of the work that goes into writing, into developing my art, and everything else? I could easily fill that time with other interests, but I chose to do this. No one is holding a gun to my head. Instead I’m choosing to do this because I enjoy it.

Without that fun, what’s the point? Trying to tough it out through a hard day is one thing. Doing that all the time is a sure path to extinction.

To catch up on other posts in this series, check out the contents page: Working Creatively With a Day Job.

If you enjoy these posts, please comment and share with others. It does take time that could be spent on other projects, so if you want to show additional support, consider picking up copies of my books or stories either for your own enjoyment, or for someone else.

Daily Update, or Writing at a Snail’s Pace

Creating at a snail's pace.
Creating at a snail’s pace.

 

Current Word Count Stats

Today: [postwc] | Month: [postmonthwc] | Year: [postyearwc]

 Today

Working a day job as a writer or artist, it can feel like the day job sucks away all of your time and your creative energy. In order to make time to create sometimes it’s necessary to get up early or write after working at the day job when you’re already tired. Especially when you have a day job that you enjoy, where you’re pouring your creative energy into that job all day, to then come home and have energy left for your own work can be a challenge. And it can leave you feeling like you’re making very little progress in your creative goals.

Impatience isn’t a good trait for an artist. Or writer. Or any other creative effort.

I have many very talented artists in my family. My brother-in-law, Mark Dutcher, creates amazing work and has been getting a lot of well-deserved attention for his work. It doesn’t happen overnight. It’s going back again and again. Creating. Never giving up.

I always think of it as three simple words.

  • Create
  • Share
  • Repeat

It sums up my feeling about Heinlein’s Rules, and art and writing in general. You create. Then share the work. And repeat those steps again and again.

Impatience? When you’ve been creating for years and years? Like the snail, I keep going at my pace.

Today I started work at the day job early, which meant leaving early, and I knew that I’d get little chance (basically none) to take any breaks when I could write. I worked on my new story before I left, and then again this evening. I finished the story, and ended up with a good word count. There wasn’t really time to do anything else today, except this post, and that’s okay. I’ll just keep going.

Last Month

Here’s the overview for last month’s word counts, plugging away a day at a time. A few days had low counts, but mostly it came out right on target.

[monthly_cal]2014-03-01[/monthly_cal]

To catch up on other posts in this series, check out the contents page: Working Creatively With a Day Job.

If you enjoy these posts, please comment and share with others. It does take time that could be spent on other projects, so if you want to show additional support, consider picking up copies of my books or stories either for your own enjoyment, or for someone else.

Daily Update, or First Things First

Playing
Playing

 

Current Word Count Stats

Today: [postwc] | Month: [postmonthwc] | Year: [postyearwc]

 Today

Yesterday I talked about the myth of the day off, and the ease with which the day off from the Day Job ends up filling up with everything else that has gotten put off during the rest of the week.

Today continued that same theme. We had errands and things to do in town today, and in part because I didn’t sleep well, there wasn’t much time to do creative work in the morning before I left. Or at least I didn’t make the time to write or do much work before it was time to go.

Afterward I let other things fill the time. I finished reading A Forest of Stars by Kevin J. Anderson before the e-book expired (checked out from the library), and placed the next book in the series on hold. I’d gotten an email from Draft2Digital regarding the image size in my recent e-book and had to create a new file for them because the image was too big for Apple’s specifications. I figured out that when InDesign won’t open the file, if I choose the “Copy” option in the open dialog then the file does open. Not sure what’s happening there, but after I saved it again it seemed okay.

I exported the book before the one I’m starting to my Kindle to read over. I also spent time working on my new short story, but progress was slower than I’d like. I took a break to do yard work and some other chores around the house. When I finally got back to the story it was this evening and I finished up my word count before working on this post.

Today’s image started with some random marks on the canvas and ended up being what it is, just playing and having fun.

I find the day goes better when I start with some creative work early in the day. Even if it’s only a little bit, having gotten a start at least puts me in a better frame of mind for the rest of the day. And if the day doesn’t cooperate, there are times when that’s the only chance I’ve gotten to do my creative work.

Tomorrow will be a good test of that, as I need to get an early start at the Day Job.

To catch up on other posts in this series, check out the contents page: Working Creatively With a Day Job.

If you enjoy these posts, please comment and share with others. It does take time that could be spent on other projects, so if you want to show additional support, consider picking up copies of my books or stories either for your own enjoyment, or for someone else.

Daily Update, or the Myth of the Day Off

Hitting the Road With Paul
Hitting the Road With Paul

 

Current Word Count Stats

Today: [postwc] | Month: [postmonthwc] | Year: [postyearwc]

 Today

Last night, after I had saved my post and decided to call it quit for the evening I put on the movie Paul starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. I grabbed a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Therapy and watched the first few minutes. I’ve seen it before, so I wasn’t planning on staying up too late. It was a lighter way to wind down at the end of the day and there was the thought that I could sleep in, because I have today off from the day job.

Somehow days off from the day job become magnified into enormous stretches of time. I can sleep in, get entire novels written, spend hours playing video games, work outside in the garden, play with my son, run, do chores around the house, watch movies, and basically do all of the things that don’t always have a priority when I’m working during the week.

It doesn’t really work like that. Often there’s really not any more time on the “day off” for creative work than during the rest of the week. Everything else that got put off during the week rushing in to fill that gap left by the day job.

After waking up later than normal, I did go out for a run at sunrise. It was nice not running in the dark. I went 3.59 miles in 39m:27s which was pretty good for me. I spent time reading, I updated the budget, I worked on the next story to reissue, getting the interior laid out, and I finished the new short story that I was writing with 1,200 words today for a total of 6,148 words long. Since I hadn’t finished my daily target, and I’m not ready to start the next novel, I started another new story. I also did a practice illustration from Matt Dixon’s figure drawing bible.

And I watched a bit more of the movie Paul, leading to the sketch for today.

With all of that, there was still a lot left that I didn’t get to today. I might not have had the day job to go to and a commute, but everything else still takes time. It fills up the space and often I find I’m still creating the same amount as I would if I had gone to the day job. And sometimes it’s even harder to get the work done on my days off.

To catch up on other posts in this series, check out the contents page: Working Creatively With a Day Job.

If you enjoy these posts, please comment and share with others. It does take time that could be spent on other projects, so if you want to show additional support, consider picking up copies of my books or stories either for your own enjoyment, or for someone else.

Daily Update, or Writing, the Day Job, and Priorities

Different Gravities 

Current Word Count Stats

Today: [postwc] | Month: [postmonthwc] | Year: [postyearwc]

 Today

Ever have one of those days when you feel like you just need to hit the reset button and reload from a saved game file? That was my day today. I woke up and listened to the pouring rain last night — and pulled the covers back up. Sleeping sounded like a really good idea right then.

Part of my brain yammered away about going for a 3.5 mile run, and the story I wanted to tell of how my day went, but the rest of me told that part to stuff a pillow in it. Then that pest changed tactics.

Fine, fine, if you’re not  going to go for a run, you should at least get up and work on “Different Gravities.” Isn’t today the release day? Didn’t you have all those troubles with InDesign eating the files yesterday?

Eventually that argument gained traction and I got up. Of course by then I’d already lost a lot of time. There wasn’t time for the run anymore, or at least not the run and working on the story. Which was it going to be?

“Different Gravities” won, and it’s now out over at Glittering Throng Press in print and e-book editions. It’s not up at all of the retailers yet, not in the current edition, but will come up there in the next few days. I spent part of the morning creating the .epub and .mobi (Kindle) files for the story and getting other work done. I’d already done the paperback edition.

When it came down to creative work vs. exercise, the creative work won. Exercise is a high priority for me right now, but my motivation was lacking this morning. My motivation to get the story out eventually conquered the desire to sleep longer and got me up working. I wasn’t done, not then, but I had to leave work for the Day Job.

When it comes to priorities the Day Job trumps the rest. I went to work and had a good time, because working in libraries is excellent. Anytime you have a kid say that she wants a longer “meaty book” it’s a good day.

I also found time to take my breaks, and work on my new short story. It’s coming along well, but isn’t done yet. I may do another story or two before I start on the next novel, although I’d like to get started on the new book April 1st. No joking.

When it comes to my priorities, talking about the creative work, writing takes the first spot. If I can’t get anything else done, I try to write. If I can do that then I’ll paint/draw and work on publishing my work. As I can I’ll also study and learn. Sometimes I’ll do an activity that is technically lower on the list, because I assume I’ll have time to write later and sometimes that backfires.

Today never felt quite right, but I got the story reissued and met my word count and even did some push-ups. The day didn’t start right, but it ended up okay. Even took time to watch Elyisum which I enjoyed even if it didn’t hit District 9‘s level for me. Movies are down on my priority list (TV in general) but I do enjoy some time to just relax and watch something entertaining.

To catch up on other posts in this series, check out the contents page: Working Creatively With a Day Job.

If you enjoy these posts, please comment and share with others. It does take time that could be spent on other projects, so if you want to show additional support, consider picking up copies of my books or stories either for your own enjoyment, or for someone else.

Daily Update, or Benefits of a Day Job For Creative Types

Rainy Morning Commute
Rainy Morning Commute

 

Current Word Count Stats

Today: [postwc] | Month: [postmonthwc] | Year: [postyearwc]

 Today

I woke up this morning at 5:00 AM to the sound of rainfall outside. I was comfortable, warm and sleepy. It would have been so easy to simply fall back asleep and take a long morning — except that I had to get up to go to the day job. Or, more accurately, if I didn’t get up I wouldn’t have time to do anything other than get ready for the day job. It still took time for me to throw back the covers and get out of bed.

Then the next challenge reared its head. Was I really going to go out and run in the dark, in the pouring rain? It wasn’t a light drizzle outside, it was rain. What’s so difficult about rain? Unless it’s some sort of toxic zombie-creating rain, what’s the problem? If the clouds haven’t been seeded with alien brain-controlling parasites from the Earth passing through a cometary tail, why worry about rain? The biggest challenges are internal.

I went out for a run. And it wasn’t so bad. I didn’t turn into a zombie or anything like that. I ran 1.67 miles, 19m:01s, including 10 burpees at the start, mid-point, and end of the run. It was quick, because I did have the day job to get to this morning.

Deadlines can be powerful motivators. Especially external deadlines, like showing up to work on time. The trick is finding ways to make your internal deadlines have the same force. Why should it be different? If I’m going to get up and get ready this morning because I have to head off to work, why wouldn’t I do that to get busy with my writing or painting?

I fall into that trap often on days off. “I can sleep in… I don’t have to go to work.”

Well, that’s not exactly true in my case. My plan doesn’t have days off. I write every day. I haven’t missed a day since last July, 249 days so far. I’ve done streaks over a year in the past.

In any case, I did get up today. I checked emails. Approved a proof of the story that’s being reissued soon, and went for my run. During breaks today I made good progress on the new short story that I’ve started. This evening I worked on the story reissue that I wanted to get out tomorrow, but it looks like it’ll have to be later than I planned. InDesign was having issues and refusing to open files after I had worked on them. I don’t know what’s happening there.

In any case, the day job today helped get me up and motivated. I focused during my breaks because I wouldn’t have many other options to find time today. And I still found some time to read (still on A Forest of Stars by Kevin J. Anderson) and watched an episode of Cosmos.

The plan tomorrow looks a lot like the plan today!

To catch up on other posts in this series, check out the contents page: Working Creatively With a Day Job.

If you enjoy these posts, please comment and share with others. It does take time that could be spent on other projects, so if you want to show additional support, consider picking up copies of my books or stories either for your own enjoyment, or for someone else.