So this month, the main thing I’ve been up to is playing with time management and goal tracking techniques. I believe I’ve mentioned a problem I’ve been having – setting goals has been difficult for me. The mental health beast has had me being very punitive towards myself when I don’t achieve a goal, and Goodhart’s Law – when a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure – has taken its toll in spades.
Tracking wordcounts was a reliable way for me to keep an eye on my progress. What happened, though, was as I started to have difficulty I focused on wordcount to the exclusion of all else. I felt like if I could achieve the wordcounts I used to, I’d somehow fix my writing problem. So I ignored all other parts of the writing life while chasing after wordcounts, and that made things worse. I spent little time editing my own work or friends’ manuscripts, I stopped doing research reading, I didn’t outline much. Wordcount’s a great measure, but it’s a lousy target.
So right now? I’m throwing conventional targets out the window. My targets look like ‘spend x number of hours trying y’, so I’m tracking the time I spend on a daily basis. I’m not being picky about how I try to pursue my targets and goals, right now, I’m just getting used to putting the time in.
What I can tell you about the past month? The heatwave over here threw me off a cliff in terms of productivity. That’s what you get for living in a house originally designed with the worry that the Thames would start freezing over again. But! I’m still going.
One of these test-target goals is to spend an arbitrary amount of time time working on a novel concept. (It’s about San Iadras and the lab mice who live and suffer there.) That’s progressing. Slowly, but it’s progressing, and I’m happy about that. Once I’m done with my first whack of time I’m going to sit down and take a look at what I wound up actually doing, and compare that to the much larger whack of time it actually takes to write a novel. Hopefully if I want to pursue a 600 hour project, it won’t feel so insurmountable if I have a clear concept of what spending 30 hours on a project is like.
So, once I’ve got my time in on the project, I’m going to have to ask myself the really tough question. Is it worth trying to dig into the setting elements and perform a soft-reboot on the material I wrote more than ten years ago? I mean, when I started writing San Iadras the iPhone wasn’t even a thing yet. Being in the position of needing to update your far-future SF to keep pace with the contemporary is a weird situation to be in.
Thank you for the support, as always – things are still paused around here, so don’t expect any charges, and enjoy your incoming August!