This is why we can’t have nice memes.

anime-drawing

Inktober.  NaNoWriMo.  A to Z Blog Challenge.  I keep thinking I can do these month-long or daily memes, but I always stall after about ten days.  Why is that?

I mean, it’s not as if I actually get bored with them.  I love to write.  I love to draw.  Give me a subject to blog about and I can probably whip something up by the end of the day.

One reason is that they usually take place at the wrong time for me.  Inktober and NaNoWriMo both take place during the last quarter of the year, when my Day Job is usually the busiest and the most stressful.  There’s only so much brain power I can provide on any given day.  Even something as quick as Inktober can be a chore if I can’t think of anything to draw that day.  And if I skip a day, then I feel I’ve already given up.  It’s stupid and annoying, yes, but it always happens.

How do I break that?

First of all, I have to remember that everyone of us has off days.  Days when we get broadsided by so much Day Job ridiculousness that the last thing we want to do is think when we get home.  We just want to have dinner and watch Time Team episodes all evening until it’s time for bed.  [At least that was me yesterday.]  It’s A-OK to skip a day; the meme will probably forgive you for that.

Second of all, sometimes there’s already a major project going on that needs more attention.  I’ve just hit Act III in The Balance of Light so most of my focus has been on its editing.  If I can sneak in a half-assed drawing in five minutes that I can post, that’s cool, but I have to remember that I don’t need to hit every single meme goal.  If I was more of an artist and not a writer, sure,  I probably would nag at myself a bit harder to hit that goal, no matter how ephemeral it might be.  But writing has been the major driver here, with everything else riding shotgun.  [This is the main reason I can’t do NaNo…I just don’t have the time to dedicate.]

I know what you’re saying right now: it’s just a meme!  Don’t take it so seriously!  Honestly, I don’t.  I don’t beat myself up for missing a day.  I may feel frustrated by it, but I won’t feel like a complete failure.  But here’s the thing: I do these memes for fun, but I also see them as possible projects as well.  Yes, even the maps…I either think of those as my ongoing portfolio, or possible worldbuilding reference.  I know, it’s weird, but I’ve never been able to create something without thinking ‘hey, I could use that somewhere’.  It’s just how I am.

It’s not as if I don’t know how to have fun on my downtime.  As mentioned above, we’ve been watching old episodes of Time Team (the UK version) to relax, and I’ve been burning through my TBR book pile at a furious clip lately.  I’ll watch music videos on YouTube and listen to new release streams online.  I pick up one of my guitars for a few minutes every day just to noodle around on it.  I just don’t always have time to provide to a month-long meme, is all.

Still, it would be nice to be able to dedicate a good block of time for these.  Especially NaNoWriMo…I’m curious to see if I can actually write a full novel in a month.  Maybe once my slate is finally cleared of all projects, I’ll give it a go.

 

All Kinds of Time

[One of the best songs about football, hands down.]

The problem with Football Season is that it gives me one more reason to be distracted from my writerly duties. Not that I need more distractions…I already have the music, the social media, the Day Job, and everything else! Still, it’s a pleasurable distraction; as with music, I have it on in the background while I’m working on something else, glancing up at the screen every now and again when someone scores or executes a brilliant play.

Time can be tricky, especially when you’re attempting to balance the finite amount we’re allotted with the infinite number of things you want to use it for.  I dedicate eight hours a day to my Day Job (I try to avoid overtime, and for the most part it’s never needed anyway), but during my breaks, I will sneak a few writing things in.  During my 9:30am break, I’ll sit on the loveseat across the room and write an entry in my daily personal journal.  During lunch I’ll read my writing magazines.  During the afternoon break I’ll catch up on emails and whatnot.  And on the rare occasion that I have a slow day, I may even work on a blog post.  After we both log off, we head to the YMCA and work out on the treadmills for a bit, and have dinner soon after.  This gives me a few hours at the end of each day, purely dedicated to my writing.

As said, the tricky part is what I should be working on, and when.

The thing about being a writer is that you most likely have about three or four different projects going on at the same time, each at various levels of completion.  My current status involves the following:  A Division of Souls is out in the world (yes, even at Amazon now — the physical copies are coming soon!), I’m currently working on the final edit of The Persistence of Memories, I’m writing the new Mendaihu Universe novel longhand, I’m carving out weekend time to pick Walk in Silence up again, and I have a few other fiction and non-fiction projects simmering on low heat in the back of my brain.  And that doesn’t include my daily personal journal, weekly blog posting, popping up on social media now and again, and other non-writing things such as guitar noodling and songwriting.  And there are things that keep getting put on hold, such as doing the daily 750 Words, my artwork and the Drunken Owl music recording project.  So much to do, so little time.

See, this is why I have the whiteboard schedule.  I haven’t been following it as of late due to the massive editing sessions for the Bridgetown Trilogy, and I think that’s a fair enough reason for putting everything on hold as of late.  I don’t mind, because releasing the trilogy myself demands a lot of time and dedication, and I’m not about to do any of it half-assed.  But now that the Big Release date has come and gone and that I’m letting it slow-simmer a bit while I figure out different ways to have fun with its promotion, I find myself with a bit more time on my hands.  Which means my week or so of relaxation and mucking about online must come to a close.  It’s time to refocus and dedicate the time that I have to what I want to get done.

Still, that’s not to say I’m not about to miss out on watching some football this season!  I may be busy, but I’m not about to let that get in the way of having fun as well!