So in many ways, August was my worst month so far this year in terms of productivity. I wrote only 20,000 words and my productivity was down 70% overall. But I’m glad to say that I end the month slightly more on track.
After all the excitement and then disbelief of this summer, I came into August feeling the pressure to perform. It came at the same time as a number of things.
I’d been working 6 weeks straight on the rewrites, fuelled by giddy excitement. I knew I had fightcamp coming up so that was a soft deadline for me to at least reach a convenient stopping point in the novel. I stopped at one of the key points in the novel, where we then up a gear and barrel into the climax. For some reason I always find writing at this point in a novel difficult. It’s where I am most likely to question myself. As a result, going back in is always going to be a little tough for me (your mileage may vary).
Maybe because of this, this is the area that needs to most attention in the rewrites. I have a good plan of what I need to do, and I’m confident of those changes, but in going through these chapters I’m finding there are lots of little annoyances that need addressing.
I was also a little burnt out after 6 weeks of solid work. I like to think of my creativity like a mana bar in video games. I can expend mana as much as I like but some times I need to recharge.
And because I was purely focused on the rewrites, my usual high level of productivity planning had gone out the window for a few months.
Couple this will the tiniest bit of day job stress, and it all boiled over in late July. I found I couldn’t focus, I was doubting my writing, I felt exhausted.
So what do you do when that happens?
First, I put realistic expectations on myself. I dropped my expected output to whatever I could manage. If that meant no words that day, then fine but as long as I wasn’t just blowing the work off. I also took some of the time I was writing to playing some video games and trying to chill out. I got tasks that needed doing done, although sometimes it was a bit of a battle. And finally I started trying to capture my stress by using my productivity tools to break action plans into miniscule tasks.
September is off to a slow start but the productivity is starting to climb back up. I’m battling through a couple of tough chapters and the going is slow, but I’m pleased that I’ve continued to make progress through this stressful month.
I passed the 400,000 word milestone for the year and got a couple of articles out.
My aim for September is to bring my productivity back up to normal levels over the course of the month. Hopefully by then I’ll be through the act change and onto the end of the novel.