Look at that, it’s an actual #onemillionword update posted on Friday and everything.

Two hands typing aware at a laptop, wearing black long sleeves. The laptop has a bunch of stickers on it and they are sitting at a marble grey and white table.

We are now at the end of week 8 which almost lines up with the end of February. A month that I am all too happy to say a proper farewell to. Over here in New England we’ve seen a lot of cold temps and a lot of snow which usually I’m fine with when I can also leave the house. This year with the quarantining, I don’t get any vitamin D during the week and I can’t wait for spring because of that. The ever so slightly warmer days that are slowly passing by have given me a little extra pep in my step in most aspects of my life. For one, I’ve already started our spring cleaning. The amount of tumbleweeds made out of cat hair my two make in a week is astounding.

Now, between the spurts of cleaning and trying to hit my word goal I’ve neglected a big part of my life; reading and video games. My husband and I haven’t been able to play WoW at all this winter which is when we usually hunker down for some good ol’ fashion raiding. This is because of my work and his plus homework. It’s been a busy pandemic.

As of right now, I am in the middle of four different books and three different video games with no progress made in any of them for weeks. What I’m getting at here is, I am horrible at the whole work/life balance thing. It’s not a horrible shock since I’ve been like this my whole life. Just comes with the territory of being ADHD. Though it did take me two months into the year to realize it too.

So the problem has been identified, now I need to fix it as much as I can. First, as of next week, I’ll be seeing an ADHD specialist which is great. I work best with structure and accountability. Regular check-ins to keep meds going does exactly that. Just being accountable to my husband doesn’t cut it, no matter how much he tries to be the hardass in the relationship.

From there I plan to try and write 6,000 words a day but only Monday through Thursday. Friday the goal is 4,000 words. Saturday and Sunday the goal is 500 words. Dividing it up like this should allow me to catch up as well as relax, regularly. If done correctly, I should have 29k new words a week which is 7k more than what I’d need just to stay afloat.

Some might ask, why write at all on the weekends? Shouldn’t I use those two days for a real day of relaxation? Especially since my husband works a regular 9-5. It’d give us more time to just hang out with each other. I’d 100% agree if I didn’t use a website called 4thewords.com to write and I have to keep my streak going. If you don’t know what 4thewords is, I’ll explain it below.

A cartoon colorful middle eastern style city.

4thewords.com is a website that is an infusion of a word processor and a flash video game. You start at level one with a basic avatar and level up by completing quests and ‘fighting’ monsters as you go. It has all the usual trappings of a fantasy video game so you may ask, where does the whole writing thing come into play? Well, to fight the monsters you have to beat them with word counts. Right now, I’m fighting a monster called a Nitana. Sort of looks like a toucan. To defeat the Nitana, I have to write 700 words in 130 minutes. How am I doing right now in this battle? I’m just under the two-hour mark and have written 289 words. Some battles are a lot tighter. For example, there’s an Assassin that you have to defeat by writing 1,400 words in 130 minutes. The largest monster I’ve encountered so far needs 2k words to defeat it.

There are probably bigger monsters in the newer areas but I haven’t done any quests there yet even though I’ve had those areas opened for months. The reason for this is because I’m a completist. I’ve slowly been going through and finishing up all the quests in the first 4 areas before moving on. Granted, right now I’m stuck in the desert area since I used up my last 20 coins to travel. I could wait ten minutes to slow travel for free but who has patience like that?

In addition to just writing, you can dress up your avatar in two different ways; aesthetic and battle gear. I used to raid ICC three times a week during the Lich King expansion so I am a huge fan of gear grinding. Feels nostalgic since no raid has lived up to ICC yet. Sorry, Blizzard. All battle gear has at least one of three stats; attack, defense, and luck. Attack gives you extra words. Having a +10 in attack will get you 1 extra word for every 10 you write. This lets you whittle away the monster’s health faster. Attack is a great stat to build up when going against the 2k monsters. Defense gives you more time. Not too sure about the ratio but with my attention span, more time is always good. Lastly, there’s Luck. Luck affects what items will drop when you defeat the monster. The higher your Luck means the more likely the monsters will drop rare items.

There’s even crafting and some great lore to round this all out. Not to mention the art is cute and well done. They’ve even introduced reaction emojis for the forums that use the same art style the monsters and world are in.

This all sounds wonderful, right? There is a catch. As you’ve probably guessed, it costs money. The good thing though it’s not that expensive, only $4 a month or less if you buy the crystals needed to get the subscription in bulk. It takes 44 crystals to buy one month. The largest bundle they offer is 2250 for $150. That makes it about .06 a crystal instead of the normal .09 cents. If you don’t have the money all the time, there are two ways to get a month or two free. One, they have a pool you can opt into that helps those without the means get subscription time donated to them. The other way is that there are quests that give you crystals. If you are smart and don’t spend them on some of the aesthetic items you can save those up easily to use on months that you don’t have the money.

Don’t be like me and waste them on boots and a kickass top the first minute of playing.

If you are at all interested in trying 4thewords, I’d really recommend it. They have a free trial is 30 days and allows you complete access to the game. If you decide not to pay after that then you can still access your work, you just can’t add or edit it on the site. You can copy and paste to another word processor.

Also, if you use my referral, we both get cool stuff; VNMLP95872.

Until I can find a better balance between work and play, this will probably be my only video gaming for the time for a little while.

Seven weeks in and things are coming together, finally.

One more week completed of #onemillionwords 2021. For those who don’t know what this click here to read my very first #onemillionword update where I explain it all.
As stated above, things are finally starting to come together.

In the beginning, all my projects were completely disorganized, words slapped together just to hit the goal. Now after finding my stride, things are coming together. There is a point in constructing a story where it takes shape and isn’t just fragments, or beginnings, or introductions, but actual stories. I’ve hit that point on some of mine. Not all of my projects since some are sitting pretty in the problem project piles, but that’s okay. The few that have started to morph into actual stories and novels are still cause for celebration.

Let me do a deep dive into each project.

Chained Heavens – I’m at a little over 30k words. According to my charts- that sounds so nerdy, I love it- my word count for this project is supposed to be 55,743 words as of today. As you can see I’m a bit behind and I’m trying not to let it get me down. I love writing this character and this world. It’s been a very long time since I had down anything in a High Fantasy setting. It’s been a lot of fun to just build a world from scratch, with a few nods to DnD 5e here and there.

The big thing about this project is it’s a collection of short stories and I’ve now completed two of them. The completion of the stories has been huge since I’ve been working with this character on and off, getting her just right, going on almost five years yet I have never completed one of her short stories. That’s my whole problem no matter what the project is; seeing it through. I have a few completed manuscripts and a dozen or so short stories under my belt. I had completed the original Merranyssa trilogy a few years ago only to realize it was all wrong and had to start again but for all the years I’ve been writing, it’s not a lot. Or, to be honest, not as much as I’d like to show for it all.

This time around, not even two months in, I have things to show for it. Two completed stories totaling almost 15k words with a third one less than 500 words away from being done. That’s what I have to show after seven weeks of writing and that’s amazing to me.

What’s my plan for these two short stories? Well, once I have at least five stories completed, I plan on taking time off from the general word count to revise and edit. I know both are rough right now but if I get all five done and edited then I have a full first volume of stories.

VeL Posts – I wish I could say these were coming together as well since blogging has always been hard for me. After finishing this post, I’m at 11,429 words but the number I should be at is 20910. At some point my hope to get caught up with a mad stroke of genius, pumping out great blog posts one right after the other. Realistically, that probably won’t happen but at least these updates will be helping. I do find writing each update has helped make blogging just a little bit easier for me. By the end of the year, I hope to get better at it. I used to write editorials all the time for my college paper and even got a degree in journalism but I wasn’t willing to work in the field after being confronted with some cold hard truths about the industry. Funny that I’m not trying it all over again ten years later.

My plan to improve these roadblocks is to spend some time at the end of the month to just plot and plan out actual article topics ahead of time. I’ll start back up with the book reviews as well as maybe a bi-monthly post of writing advice I’ve found helpful. If any of my readers would like to see anything else specific whether it be about books or writing or even geek culture, comment below.

Cloaked Rites – This has been one of the projects that have been hopping back in forth from good to a problem. As of today, I am a little over half what I should be at but I have almost 11k words written in it. Again, I’m not where I should be but I’m a lot better than if I had never started this. At 11k words in, I’ve barely got past the introduction of the world but we’re getting there. Part of the reason why I think this one has been hopping back and forth is that I might have to do that dreaded outline for this one.

I’m the worst at outlining but it has to happen. I’ve known this for a while so I started watching tutorials on the Snowflake Method. Don’t know what that is? Click this link here and it’ll take you to the blog post of the guy who created it. Or if you work better off videos, like me, click here for a great breakdown of the method.
I plan on sitting down, hopefully, this weekend, and spending the day outlining Cloaked Rites with this method. I’ll let you all know next week if a. I even did it. and b. how it went.

The Stormbloods Saga – This is the only project that is actually on track with the overall word goal. I’m even ahead by a bit. I’m just shy of 15k in this project yet the word goal for today is only 13,700. The goal for this project at the end of the year was to have 3-4 novellas finished. This whole story is being structured like a multi-season show but instead of 48 minutes on the CW, there’ll be a novella published every 3-4 months and every calendar year would be seen as a completed season. This one because the structure is so different will be a bit challenging in the editing stages which makes my progress look so much better.

I hope that we can complete the first season this year and have the first ‘episode’ published in January 2022 under VeL.

DLPSW – This project, I’ve realized would probably also benefit from outlining. It’s a little behind on its word count coming in at just under 10k when I should be at 13,700. This is probably one of the shortest gaps of all my projects that are behind but this is also the project that sits just right outside my comfort zone. I have huge appreciation and respect for those that write romance and write it well. I have never been one of those people. Hell, I wasn’t even into the genre as a whole until a few years ago. Mostly because I do like supernatural and fantasy elements in my story almost exclusively. In the last handful of years, the genre of paranormal romance has exploded, from what I’ve noticed.

There are now more and more romance stories that are more up my alley. We’re even getting a whole new wave of queer paranormal romance. I am in love and have added a bunch to my TPR over the last year or two.

The goal going forward, sit down and do the same as Cloaked Rites. Both need a plan moving forward. I am just about finished with the beginning parts of both and will need that outline once I dive deep into the actual plot.

The Keeper Chronicles – It seems this is my most forgotten and hardest project of them all. It’s also supposed to be a series of short stories but lately, I’ve been thinking if it also wouldn’t be a bad idea to throw in a few full-length novels to this series and if that’s the case, what will I do for the plots? As of now, the current word count stands at 5268 and the goal as of today is 13,700. Not much to report on this one since I’ve barely been able to get any done in it.

My goal going forward is to decide what to do with it. Originally it was supposed to be a series of short stories that were posted on our companies patron weekly. Possibly even broken up into parts, depending on story length and I still like that idea but thinking up short story ideas is hard enough with one project, doubling that makes it seem almost impossible. I think, for the time being, I’ll keep trying to produce short stories in this universe. Maybe even sit down and plan some out ahead of time.
Seems I have a lot of planning to do. Guess I should start doing that now.

Happy writing!

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Happy Friday. Week 6 of #onemillionwords has been completed!

Today marks the end of the 6th week of #onemillionwords 2021 and it’s been interesting. Last week, I set a goal for myself; write 5k words every day to start catching up and outline three short stories for Lucifiel’s short story collection. Well, none of that happened. At all. My best day of writing was this past Wednesday, wrote 4,020 words which I was happy about but it still missed the goal I needed. That’s okay. We’re still early in the calendar year which means I still have 46 weeks to play catch up and at some point, as long as I don’t give up, I’ll be caught up.

Does this mean for next week my goal will be 6k or higher? Probably not because raising the number is a great way to trigger my flight or freeze response. Most ADHD brains do this. They either freeze up, scroll social media for hours while trying to get themselves to actually do The Thing or flight. Flight is when either our brains completely purge the information because it’s too stressful or we use something else we deem as just as important for a distraction. I’m usually the former because since the beginning of quarantine my executive disfunction has been at the worst it’s been in years. I’ve given full permission for my husband to take my phone if he sees me start to get stuck in a social media spiral.

I’m lucky enough to have a writing buddy in my husband for some of the time but he works full time, Monday through Friday. At least three of those days are out of the house. So, what am I to do when he’s not around? It’s been a trial to find out what works for me and what doesn’t. At first, we tried making an hour-by-hour schedule for myself the night before. That has about a 40% chance of working. Most of the time, if I don’t have accountability then I just sort of ignore the calendar notifications. I feel super guilty and then spiral into endlessly scrolling social media or watching YouTube videos. Accountability is a huge thing with my ADHD. I was always the one in college to organize study/workgroups because to me, that’s a great sort of accountability. Especially, if everyone agrees to give hourly or half-hour check-ins. It’s hard to be the only one in the group to be like ‘I wrote three words,’ while everyone else has a laundry list of things they accomplished in that time. Also, I’m competitive as hell. I will pick a person to one up and use that as motivation.

I had a friend in college who told me they did the same and usually picked me because we were the two English majors. From then on we were each other’s biggest work rivals and it worked extremely well for us but they’re now off living in Alaska of all places, originally from New Jersey, and raising three kids. That means I’m now accepting applications for a new ‘work rival’ and I’m only half kidding. We were each aware that ‘winning’ meant nothing more than bragging rights for the next five or so minutes as best. Or the occasional bet on who buys the other pizza from the local pizzeria which was honestly, not even that good but I went to college in a very small town so options were limited. Still, tangible prizes are great motivators.

Before COVID, I used to go to coffee shops and try to work there. It was a 50/50 since if the coffee shop was busy I could get easily distracted. If it was extremely busy though, I was able to power through all my work. Funny how the ADHD brain works. Little stimulation and we latch onto it. An overload of stimulation we block it out. Also, I kind of had to reason with myself if it was that busy I needed a damn good reason to be taking up a seat if I wasn’t working. Since more coffee shops weren’t that big this gave me a great kick in the pants.

I’ve had to find ways around that, ways that work well while quarantining. Let me start by saying nothing works 100% of the time. One of the best ways I could find, since I live in New England and the great outdoors is off-limits for another three to four months, was to switch rooms in my apartment. Unfortunately, I live in a four (minus the bathroom) room apartment. Two bedrooms and an open concept living room and kitchen area. This trick works if I don’t overdo it. There are only so many times I can room hop without it losing its appeal, especially when one is almost completely bound to the apartment 24/7.

My husband and I are house-hunting at the moment and you can bet that the first thing I think of when touring a house now is how I can manage being locked inside all day. Is there enough room for me to move around? To change my scenery? Is there usual outdoor space when there isn’t snow? Right now we’ve got almost 2 feet so unless I went out to the middle of our parking lot, that answer right now is a resounding no.

Basically, what I’m getting at is that trying to maintain constant productivity is hard in a pandemic. I say this but all the creative-minded people out there are just nodding and wondering why it took me so long to figure out. It didn’t but now that I have actual goals, it’s become more noticeable. It also becomes extremely noticeable when during a weekly update, I don’t have all that much to update my readers on for each project. They’ve all had a little bit of progress made in them but just a little.

I’ve gone on a bit on ways I try to achieve the best levels of productivity but I want to hear from my readers. What is everyone doing to keep themselves going? Whether that be to write, to draw, or anything else that is creative. Comment below and tell us! I’ll even try a few out and report back.

You don’t have to make progress every day, week, or even month to still be in the game.

Happy Friday and welcome to the end of the 5th week of #onemillionwords 2021. Why do I add the ‘2021’? Because if I live through this year, I’m trying this bull again in 2022 and possibly every year after until I die. This updates a bit late, really late, but better late than never.

Week 4 was sort of a bust when it came to writing. I don’t even think I was able to get 10k words to page let alone the 20k or so words needed to just break even but life happens. This week, thankfully, went a little differently. According to all my trackers, I’m very behind in each project and that’s okay. I made up some of it this week, just enough to get me jazzed once more about this whole experiment.

A quick recap on what #onemillionwords is for all new readers and taken from a previous update, CKnightwrites on Twitter sent out a text at the very end of 2020 stating their goal of trying to write one million words in the upcoming year. From their more than a hundred people piled onto this idea and it became a sort of event. We’re a month in and people are still just as hyped about it as they were on January 1st. The goal is to try and get 2740 words a day, 85,000 words a month written. This is also with the knowledge that very, very few will be able to reach the one million mark but those that try and make some sort of progress, no matter how big or small, still win.

The last week of January was kind of a fail for me. I barely got any words in and lost a lot of time with adult responsibilities which caused all my creativity to fall into a rut. This past week, however, was slow going but there was progress. Progress, that was starting to build up steam again. I’ve never found 100% tried and true methods of getting myself out of a creative rut or a way to kill writer’s block but over the years I’ve picked up a few tricks to help both along. As I said, not 100%. They don’t work every time but that’s fine. That’s why I amassed so many tricks.

First, I read. I find a book that I know I’ll devour and I do just that. Usually, it’s a book by Kelley Armstrong or Seanan McGuire. Both are tried and true authors that I love. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough downtime to even crack a book. Another great trick I use that couldn’t be implemented this time was to just recite the entire plot so far to a friend or my husband enough times that they can either help me plot out a problem or I work it out a little bit as I talk.

My husband started his Spring classes the last week of January so he was out. My usual friend to vomit plot onto started her master’s program three weeks ago and thought it grand to do an accelerated study. Both are out for the time being.

Now onto the tricks that did work while having time restraints shackling my creative process. The one that worked the best, daydreaming. Literally, just daydreaming of a sort of fanfiction of my stories. Adventures where my character’s had enhanced powers or were hundreds of times more badass. Like the old superhero stories before modern narratives started focusing on actually giving their characters real personalities instead of stereotypes. I have no idea why this works but it does. I get hyped up for the story again. Sometimes this can take a few days of daydreaming but it’s worth it. It surprisingly is also great for working out rough spots in plotlines as a side effect.

A few other tricks I employed were scrolling through the writing community on Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr. Be warned, it might be inspiring but it can backfire and become an endless scroll day. Or slowly building playlists that fit my current project. I work from home so I listen to a lot of music and have a habit of picking a ‘surprise me’ type playlist at random to listen to while I clean or cook or exercise. My brain is occupied thinking of the creative project and figuring out which song fits best. It kills two birds with one stone. When it works it’s a kick in the pants to get back into it and helps my mind stay occupied while I do some form of mindless physical activity. This was a modified technique to help me manage my ADHD I learned years ago.

Thankfully, these few tricks worked great. I was able to start the 5th week of #onemillionwords with some pep in my step. Just enough to start but that’s all I needed it seemed. A creative jump start.

How’s each project going you ask? Well, my six projects can be broken down into two categories; the good projects and the problem projects. The good projects, I have been able to breeze through those word counts, high fiving my muse and all that good stuff. The problem projects I end up sitting at my desk and just banging my head against a wall, no muse to be found. I’ve realized that these two categories will probably exist throughout the whole year. At some point, I’ll try to come up with wittier names for each.

Some days I’ll be more into writing Elven Urban Fantasy and others I’d rather write about a clueless Werewolf stuck in a fake/pretend relationship with his best friend. And sometimes I just want to do nothing but write about a queer barbarian lady with chronic pain. I really like writing Lucifiel.

Now that I have a little bit more downtime coming up my plan for the next week is to try and write 5k words a day to catch up on the words I missed last week. As well as outline three short stories for Lucifiel’s collection and at least some of each book I’m working on. I want to think I’m still a pantser but without even a very basic outline my writing goes off the rails. I think it works at the moment but it edits very hard. Yet, I have not found an outlining process I actually like. Good figure.
Got any outlining suggestions? Feel free to drop them in the comments!

Four weeks in and we’ve hit our first wall.

Sometimes life gets in the way of plans, especially when those plans are writing a book or several. When one sets out to write a book, the gods above throw every stupid and time-consuming obstacle they can in our way. Or maybe that’s just how it feels. Hell, I had so much thrown at me the last week of January I’m writing this post a week late. Better late than never, especially with things such as #onemillionwords. I keep having to remind myself it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Missing one week because life has decided to kick up her heels and fill the calendar with STUFF isn’t the end of it all. I won’t bore you with the details but it was a lot of adulting that I really did not want to do.

Quick recap for those that aren’t aware of what #onemillionwords is, CKnightwrites on Twitter sent out a text at the very end of 2020 announcing their goal of trying to write one million words in the upcoming year. From there, more than a hundred people piled onto this idea, and it became a sort of event. We’re a month in, and people are still just as hyped about it as they were on January 1st. The goal is to try and get 2740 words a day, 85,000 words a month written. This is also with the knowledge that very, very few will be able to reach the one million mark, but those that try and make some sort of progress, no matter how big or small, still wins.

During NaNoWriMo every year, I hit a wall causing me to fizzle out for the rest of the month. I usually start extremely well by hitting my daily word goal every day for two weeks. Then something comes along and throws off my groove. One year, smack dab in the middle of NaNoWriMo, I was working at my local Barnes & Noble and the store lost power. Just our store, not the little plaza it was in either. Two other managers and I had to stay until the electrician came because all our locks and alarms were on the grid that went down. It wasn’t until nearly 3:30 in the morning that we finally get our store-specific electrician on the phone after calling him at least two dozen times. It takes him over an hour to show up. By this point, the backup generators are depleted, and it’s November in New England. The three of us were huddled on a beanbag chair in the kid’s section for warmth.

In the end, the guy came and flipped a switch. A single little switch locked up in an electrical box that only the maintenance company B&N employed had a key to. We found out some of the switches in there if played with incorrectly could blow up like a small bomb. We had been waiting at that point for over six hours. Earlier in the night, while checking out a loud and off-putting noise, I broke my foot. By the time the electrician showed, I was limping and miserable. The noise, by the way, was the backup generator shutting off. None of us had heard it before so, we thought someone had broken in.

I ended up not getting home until closer to 5:30 in the morning after all was said and done. The next day was my day off, thankfully. The plan had been for every day off that month to meet up with fellow writer friends, remember this was in the before times, and sit down together at a local coffee shop or library. Suffice it to say I slept through my writer’s group and most of that day.

One day down the drain, and my NaNoWriMo that year was over. I probably only wrote an additional 5-6k words the rest of the month. Unfortunately, that’s how I’ve always been and only recently found out that this whole easily discouraged and quitting when the groove gets disrupted thing is a common ADHD trait. The amount of things I’ve learned about ADHD in the last two years is probably five times more than what I had learned the whole rest of my life since getting diagnosed at 6/7 years old.

That aside, I’m still writing and still making progress in #onemillionwords 2021. Part of this is a big thanks owed to the community. The chats may have quieted down some, and a few of us have paced ourselves a bit more now than in the beginning, but it’s still there and still amazing.

I usually give updates on how each of my projects are going. This week, I see no point in breaking it down as I have in the past. I added a few paragraphs here and then, made four different post-it notes reminding myself that I really need to outline some of the short stories still but haven’t thrown in the towel yet. I’m horrible at outlining. If anyone out there had some great tools for it, please comment with them below.
I let life sweep me up in all types of craziness, but that’s okay. I have a whole year to get stuff done. A little break now and again isn’t a bad thing. Learning to not give up is important too.