Work · Writing

All Hail the…Cookie?

Okay, so here’s something really weird going on with me. Oh, and it’s work related not baking related, so yeah curb your expectations please haha. Anyway, as I said before, I’ve finally started to do a huge overhaul of my novel, because it desperately needs it before I can continue writing. And it’s hard. Ho boy I’m still on only step 3 of the Snowflake Method and it’s making me stressed as hell. I have 4 major characters and I’m supposed to write an overall plotline for them along with physical descriptions, internal struggles, the works. Cool. Should be able to drum that out in a day or two, right? NOPE! I started last week and only just now finished with 2 characters. Pathetic, I know, although the first character took longer to finish than the second one, which I mark as progress.

But during this process, I discovered something that’s kept me going despite me wanting to shut down the document and run away every few minutes. (Yes, I legitimately panic whenever I write a sentence or two, because I feel like everything sucks and I suck the worst, and I have the urge to close everything and go to bed and watch mindless youtube videos forever.) And that is, oddly, a small web-based game called cookie clicker. I’m sure you’ve heard of it, from like a decade ago? Anyway, it used to be that I would write a few sentences, maybe some paragraphs on a good day, and then I’d feel panic at how bad I am and go on reddit, and then boom, 2 hours have passed by and I only wrote like 100 words. Then I’d feel bad about wasting all that time, and then I’d just give up altogether. And that’s how I made no progress on anything for years. I mean it, YEARS. The more depressed I got the worse progress I made, and the lack of progress made me more depressed, and hence a ridiculous cycle of doom was born. Well, on a whim last week, instead of going to reddit, I decided to play cookie clicker. I don’t know why; I just did. And I discovered that I could write a couple of sentences, click on a bunch of cookies, and return to writing after just a few minutes! It’s still slow and dumb, I mean imagine after every sentence you type you take a two-to-five-minute break clicking things. But it’s vastly shorter than 2 hours on reddit, npr, whatever, and I did not freak out and feel useless afterwards, because after a bit of cookie clicking I somehow am ready to write again! No, I don’t understand why. I would love to, but I don’t. But all I care about is that, as slow as it is, it. Is. Working.

And getting better. Because I definitely feel like sorting out my second character went faster than my first. Plus I didn’t give up after a tough spot, or rather, many, many tough spots, and kept going. Even now, as I’m typing this entry, I took a few breaks to click on the cookies. Only a few seconds later and I’m good at continuing! Sure, I cannot make the four hours a day deadline yet, but I feel like I can reach it, you know, instead of it being something completely impossible. All thanks to an ancient, idle web-browser game. What a weird discovery.

I’ll keep you updated if there are more weird changes. I feel like I’m jinxing it or something. Seriously, I’d like an explanation for this phenomenon. If I knew this’ll be the stupid trick to get my brain going I’d have done it a long, long time ago.

Work · Writing

Keep Going

Welp, I did not meet my goal of 4 hours yesterday, and probably won’t today either. It’s my fault, definitely, but I’ve been having trouble sleeping these few days because I’ve kind of been binging on bad news about Omicron. Yes, again, I know that’s bad for you and you shouldn’t read the news, especially on reddit, nowadays. But I did. And so I’m paying for the consequence of sleepless nights, really late wake-ups, and more worrying when it’s prime time to work. It’s a bad cycle.

In addition, I’m just sitting here looking at my document and characters, and thinking over and over how I don’t know anything about anyone, and I’m a terrible writer, and all kinds of self-doubt things. It’s stressful af I’m telling ya lol. The one small silver lining is that I am sitting down and looking, every day, despite it breaks me out in cold sweats. So maybe like, after a week or two I’ll get slightly less freaked out from exposure? I mean, my characters aren’t going to contribute to my stress, which is the difference between my writing and a forum where all kinds of random people can say things that add on to my stress. (Which is why I should ban reddit from all my devices not just my work computer, but alas, I sometimes like to read it for cute things.) I’m hoping me sitting here every day feeling inadequate would become me sitting here not feeling as inadequate in a month or two. Or at least tomorrow I’ll feel a smidge less inadequate than today. Sounds like coping but a couple of therapy exercises my psychologist assigned me seemed to utilize the same trick. So maybe it’ll work.

The key is just to keep going. So here I go sitting and stressing about how stupid my characters and me are for another few hours before giving up and going to sleep. And repeat the same thing tomorrow. And maybe I can snatch five or ten minutes here and there to work in between hyperventilating, which eventually will lead to less hyperventilating. Then, uh, I don’t know. Let’s get through this week first.

Work · Writing

New Year, New Work Ethic

Yes, the title is very optimistic. Declaring this year will be the year that I actually develop a work ethic and stick to it. Ha! Just to be clear by work ethic I just mean have a schedule and not slack off because of whatever mental block I have on that day. You know they say you have to write through writer’s block; that’s the only way. I believe that but I never actually need to put it into practice. Plus, I was in denial about the fact that I was blocked in the first place, so obviously I don’t need to write anything if I’m not even blocked, right? Yes, I know, that doesn’t make any sense. It also didn’t do me any good on productivity.

Speaking of productivity, I’ve decided that I really need to do an overhaul of my novel. I mean I have random snippets and scenes but I lack a cohesive structure. There are plot holes that’s not been resolved that I keep on putting off. Well, some people can write a whole first draft with major plot holes and not care, as long as they got all 100k words out. Me? Nope. Can’t write a single word until I know absolutely everything that’s going to happen in the chapter. Which, again, I know doesn’t really work in the creative process. So you see how I can’t finish anything, right? But acknowledgement is the first step to solving the problem. I know my problem now. So to tackle it, I’m applying the Snowflake Method to this novel.

I think I used this method at the very beginning of my novel writing, but never followed through. Hence why to this day I don’t have a good ending or know exactly what happens in the last third of the book. Here lies the root of all my issues, no? Therefore, I’m going to do the method all over, and follow through to step 10 this time. Probably will take the entire month of January to do it, too, if not longer. Word counts don’t matter right now. What matters is a thorough once over of the entire work. Write, rewrite, edit – that all come later. Incidentally, I talked to my s.o., who went to school for project management, and asked him what would be an appropriate amount of time of work each day for him to consider it a job. (As opposed to a hobby.) He thinks 6 hours should be sufficient, I consider that too much for the beginning, so we settled to 4 hours, with weekends off. (Also barring medical emergencies, surgeries, and all that, which I expect to have a lot of this year too.) There, a concrete number for the insurmountable amount of work ahead. Or at least it felt that way to me haha. I’m sure my perception is all wonky due to my horrible sense of self-assessment, but that’s why I asked for an outside opinion.

I spent most of yesterday setting up my new novel file. Today will be the first day of a bulk of work and I’m absolutely terrified. It’s arguably the easiest thing to think about right now and I’m still freaking out. Thank you for the existence of this blog, eh? It’s nice to put all my feelings down in words. I will also try to update this blog more frequently, and keep up with Friday Fictioneers, too, when I need breaks from thinking about my own work. I’ll talk to you guys later.

Work · Writing

Work Update

Well, folks, it’s been a while. I had such high hopes for July but I guess I was not prepared of the toll the whole biopsy thing had taken on my body. The PIO injections were so painful! I basically have to slot in extra times in the day to exercise/massage so I can keep the pain controllable without taking too many painkillers. I know it eventually will be more manageable, but it definitely was not the first week after a whole year of rest. With all that physical baggage I basically copped out of writing the whole month. Isn’t that always the case, though? If it’s not this medical thing it’s something else. I just have very little will when it comes a lot of things and I’m not happy about that. So, new month, new beginnings, new resolutions.

One thing I did realize is that I need a central notebook, reminder list, something tangible, to keep my goals in sight. Like, I have to write something down (not just type out a blog) that is concretely related to my writing in order to keep motivated. If I don’t I literally lose track of where I am in my novel process and then nothing even gets planned, let alone get done. I’m not sure if this happens to other people normally or just people with ADHD or what. But yeah, out of sight, out of mind forever. (Could be a visual learner thing?) Anyway, luckily (unluckily for my wallet, but for me, yes) JetPens keep on stocking things I want so I bought more notebooks, and I’m going to use them as a ledger of sorts. Yesterday I used a very cheap notebook (new stuff hasn’t arrived yet) to start, and I wrote down in large, colorful bullets what I have done with my novel, and this morning I thought in detail about what I will accomplish with my novel today. Achievable, but concrete steps (so none of the “this character is going to do this thing somehow” or “I will brainstorm the third section of the plot”, but more like “move everything from this file to the new one” and “edit these five sentences, then these five paragraphs, etc.), and I’m going to keep this up every day. I will also find a suitable notebook to compile everything I’ve done by the week’s end, just so I can look at it and see, here’s step 1 – 10 you’ve done. Next week do step 11- 20. There will be 100 steps total. Get to it! I think this will actually keep me on track. I’m beginning to truly realize and embrace that I am a planner, a neurotically obsessed chronological planner, so the only way for me to work is do things like steps in a chemistry experiment, or follows a recipe, and not some nebulous concept that a more free-flow-thinking kind of person could just magically make do as work.

My plan for August is very work-focused. Since July fell through, I’m hoping this month I’ll really, really, really kick myself in gear. I’ll let you know mid-month how it’s going. Crossing my fingers that my fickle brain would actually work for real this time. Then I’d know I finally have an achievable schedule.

Life · Work

Changing How I Tackle Problems

So I talked a bit before of me suspecting I have ADHD. I still haven’t scheduled to see a doctor – I will get one eventually! – but I have been randomly googling books on adult ADHD, namely, if I have ADHD what concrete ways are there to manage it. Well behold, I found such a book! It’s called Order from Chaos: The Everyday Grind of Staying Organized with Adult ADHD by Jaclyn Paul. (Not sponsored or anything I literally found this book and bought it after reading the reviews.) It’s very funny and exactly what I’m looking for. So yeah, my suspicion that I have ADHD just increased, and I am thankful that my case doesn’t seem nearly as bad as the author’s. Small mercies.

I haven’t finished reading the book yet, and I didn’t find every strategy she put down helpful, but it did get me seriously thinking about how I need to prioritize my time based on reality, not wishful thinking. Basically, I need to really, really pare down what I can do each day. There are currently a lot of tasks that I consider “oh it’s a small so it doesn’t count as work” except they actually use up my energy, therefore they ARE work, and so me doing a jillion of them makes me too tired to do ACTUAL work. (Buying a new pair of shoes online is work, a “quick” vacuum of just the upstairs is work, calling a doctor’s office is work. They all add up!) Maybe to some folks none of those things I mentioned require any energy, and so they can do all those AND do 8 full hours of real work. Well, kudos for them! I can’t. Anything that’s not like, watching Youtube, or sleeping, is work to me. I have to accept this reality and work with my own brain, which means that, everything is work so I need to prioritize and space them out accordingly. Also, I have a jillion notebooks keeping track of all these non-work tasks, so much that they become very redundant. I sometimes record “do laundry” on three different trackers. (Keeping different trackers to do work, ironically, is also work for me!) So I dropped them and tried to consolidate everything so I only have to write a specific task ONCE. If it’s actual writing related it goes in the ONE writing notebook. If it’s chores it goes into my bullet journal, along with anything else (I used to have skincare things and other goals in a separate notebook, now they’re all in the same bujo). Keep ONE blog (mostly this one haha). Etc. Etc.

It’s the beginning of the month so I’m still sort of in the middle of the setting up stage. So far I’ve limited myself to at most two chores a day, with room for one extra non-chore but necessary thing to do (calling doctor’s office, for example). That. Is. It. No more wasting all my time doing small chores all throughout the day and therefore get nothing creative done because of all the interruptions! I’ve also stopped all my random journaling. One journal entry a day, period. If I update here today, then I won’t be writing literally anywhere else. I tried so hard to journal every day because I think it’s good for me. Well, turns out I just am not equipped to do that, so that’s a pure wishful thinking thing that I need to face reality with. If you have ADHD, or even if you don’t have ADHD but wants to keep your life in better order, I recommend this book. I’ll probably blog about it after I actually finish it. Right now I’m still testing the waters, but it seems to be working.

Work

Good Mondays – Routine

Hi guys. Today I want to celebrate a small thing called a daily routine. Or just routines in general. I never appreciated how much a set schedule meant until this past year when everything went sideways. A lot of the normal things I took for granted disappeared, and I didn’t realize how much that had actually impacted my psyche until my psyche was way out of sync. Whether it’s skincare, work schedule, or just something slotted to do over the weekend, the fact that I no longer have a routine to follow really mattered. To be truthful I’m still very much struggling to get myself back on track. With my city opening up and my s.o. getting back to steady work, my weekend plans slowly began to solidify once more. So there’s at least one thing that’s righting itself.

I have been noticing on my most productive days I tend to have just the right number of chores and work lined up so I keep myself motivated without overwhelming myself. However, to get that happening I usually need some planning, and if I slack off on that I literally don’t get anything done. It’s like my brain just shuts off after certain hours, and to overcome that I need to “train” it to not shut off, which requires time, practice, and a lot of patience. Sounds like establishing a new routine, huh? You have to do something at this time every single day, and eventually it’ll be an easy habit. Or so they say. In practice I climb on and fall off the wagon in a forever cycle. The best I can hope for is the number of days I’m on the wagon outnumber the ones off.

So I salute to the routine, because it’s probably going to be the one thing that for sure keeps me moving (the other is adamantly NOT check reddit until after all work is done). You need small wins interspersed with long hauls, otherwise you’d eventually wear out. Even if small wins mean “I did laundry today” or “I sent out an email”, they still count!

Work · Writing

End of Month Update

Well, today is April 30th, and I utterly failed in Camp NaNoWriMo this month. Yep, 100% didn’t meet it. I partially blame all the life stuff that happened this month. Covid vaccine sign-up and subsequent visits. My s.o. quitting and starting a new job (and the headache of health insurance changes that came with it). I contacting my doctor to discuss our plan to start IVF again and all that involved (I’m on birth control again and it’s really messing with my hormones/weight/headache/fatigue level). You know, life things! Coupled that with me being nervous about finally submitting something to my writer’s group – yeah, my head space was not all there this month, which is an issue. Because I’m kind of pushing close to my self-imposed deadline now. Here’s some more details.

So I talked to my s.o. about my work last year and I said that I’ll give him an assessment of how it is by the end of June this year. Now, I’m planning to finish my novel by the end of this year, but I also set a deadline of finishing the first part (there are three parts) of the novel by end of June. I gave myself more time at the beginning because I figure it’ll take me a while to ramp up. And it did! Oh boy did it take a while. I’m not proud that finally, finally managed to move on from chapter 5 – this is the one I’m submitting for my group, btw – and it has taken me a good chuck of half a year to get there. Granted, it was a very tumultuous half a year because of all the pregnancy then miscarriage then grief and all. So I’m not blaming myself too much for unable to create while being in that emotional state. However, I’ve been past that emotional state for a while now, and it still took months to wrap up ONE chapter. Boy. I’m not looking forward to meeting that June deadline. I told my s.o. that if I just cannot get myself to finish I’m going to stop writing this novel, and probably quit being a writer altogether. Because you know, sometimes you just gotta give up when you know you can’t do it. (I know people love to say “Never Give Up!!!!” Um, sometimes it’s smarter if you do. I’m sorry but it is. Sometimes you take a deep, hard look at yourself and you think, yeah, time to change course.) And then I’m going to take a coding course and then try to be an engineer, or find an actual job before I age out of finding a career altogether. No I’m not there yet! I still have time, but it’s getting pretty close.

(There’s also the fact that I really think I might have adult ADHD and need some medication. Maybe once I actually get some Adderall or whatever everything will be awesome and I’ll be a productivity machine. Who knows. I’ll reassess if that happens, after the whole Covid and new insurance and everything.)

I don’t know how I’ll fare but the next two months are going to be very, very important. I am going to see in May, first, if I can at all keep a work schedule if I try. Like, in the middle of April I just gave up, you know? And I really, really need to stop doing that. Like I said I still have time and I cannot waste it away being all dejected or moody or whatever! I’m going to seriously see how many chapters I can do in the next two months to determine if I can at all come close to finishing. Actually, with the way my mind works, if I don’t think about finishing and just write, it may work better. Like, if I just stick to fill out all the hours instead of having a goal of where to stop ahead of time, I tend to go further. I feel like I can only plan 1-3 days ahead at a time, which is horrible, but if I go any further I freeze up under pressure and then I just stop doing anything and go cry on the bed all day, you know? Hmm, that actually gave me an idea of how to setup my bullet journal more efficiently. Anyway, not important, the important thing is that I need to tackle the rest of the year, and it starts with May.

Work · Writing

Schedules Are There For a Reason

You know, I’ve been thinking. About my probably most likely undiagnosed ADHD prognosis. I know it’s not good to self-diagnose mental health issues, especially with the help of only Google, but, if the shoe fits I mean…? Kathleenlights basically thought she had OCD (clinical, that is) and then she did this whole video about the things she does and compared them to OCD symptoms (again, clinical, so much more than just ‘oh they’re just picky’ kind of things), and I was like, uh…yeah, I think she has a convincing case. (And kudos for her being so brave about it!) Anyways, regarding myself – so yesterday I set out to work because I was feeling better although not 100%, and then I didn’t work a lick, because I felt like “I can’t concentrate so might as well cut myself some slack. It’s the weekend and I’m not 100%, yeah?”)

No. The answer is NO. If I really do have ADHD, and I think I do, then the hard truth is that I probably will never be able to concentrate without some outside help. I’m not on medication, and even if I should be, I can’t because I think if I want to get pregnant they don’t recommend I take any ADHD medication. So I won’t be getting any help anyway aside from sheer will, and so, when I sit down in front of my computer to write, 9 out of 10 times I won’t be “in the mindset.” It will always, always be a struggle, and I have to develop some ways to cope with it. Them’s the breaks, you know. So I decided, literally this morning (you know, when we just wake up and groggy is apparently the optimal time for life-changing epiphanies), that that’s no longer an excuse. “I can’t concentrate so give up for now, try again tomorrow” is not going to fly if I literally cannot concentrate ever. Tomorrow is going to be the exact same as today. And the solution is, obviously, fuck your brain, push through, and work anyway.

Yeah yeah, easier said than done and all that. I’ve talked with my therapist about some of this (without thinking I had ADHD at the time) and he suggested to try some caffeine just to see if this makes a difference. I did, and I think it does, so I have caffeine to help (and of course have to give that up too if I want to be pregnant, ugh). Another thing is that strict scheduling seems to help me a lot. Which is kinda bad because if I deviate from this schedule even a little bit, like if I were sick, or something else comes up, I don’t really adjust and instead just falls completely off the wagon every time. I think the problem is that I feel like I have to make up for it. Like, I had a sick day on the 2nd, right? I was supposed to work 4 hours that day. Well, I didn’t, and so I thought, I’ll just work 4 hours on the 3rd, which was Saturday, which I initially scheduled to work 2 hours (weekend quota). Well, this little change apparently messed me up mentally enough that I didn’t do any work at all! Had I just completely written off the 2nd as “sick day” and moved on to the 2 hours slotted for Saturday, I probably would have gotten that done. Like, today, I’m also supposed to work 2 hours. I decided to not “make up for lost time” and just follow my initial schedule, and guess what I’m doing right now? Working! I feel like a robot that will just shut down if it deviates from its programming, so I guess the key is to never deviate ever?

(And if you’re like ‘wtf girl you’re only working 4 hours a day holy crap you lucky/lazy person’, yeah, I know. And it’s doubly shameful that I can’t even achieve that much. I want to up it to 5 hours eventually but right now I just want to get anything consistently done at all).

So my solution for now is set a schedule and don’t change it ever. If I’m sick or something big happens then just write the whole day off. Just pretend in your brain that you’re not behind, which apparently is the key to actually be not behind. I’m going to try this for the rest of Camp NaNoWriMo and see where it gets me. And if that doesn’t work either, well, May is a new month too.

Life · Work

Stomach Ache Delaying Work

Well, so much for working full steam come April haha. Literally one day after my post with all my goals I came down with a severe cramping stomach ache. I don’t know what it was, and it was not bad enough that I had to go the ER, but it was bad enough that I pretty much lay in bed all day yesterday. I tried to work and my s.o. was like, come on, take a sick day. You’re not really concentrating and we have a new villager in Animal Crossing to find. So I guess I got persuaded by that and instead of lying in bed I lay on the sofa and went on Island Tours until I found a good villager for our island haha. I mean I also slept and read and ate soupy food, so I’m not neglecting my health or anything. Just was not up for anything mentally taxing.

Today, I feel much better. Stomach still not feeling 100% so I had soupy pho for lunch although I was craving spicy fried chicken. I guess that’ll have to wait until next week. But I’m definitely well enough to be able to sit in front of a desk and type things. I’d have to watch my caffeine intake, too, which is a bummer. Nothing but boring warm water for a while (maybe with some super diluted lemon juice just to give it a bit of flavor). I’ve stopped taking some of my supplements because, well, I haven’t gone to the doctors in a while due to pandemic, so I’m not sure if I’m like taking too much vitamin D or whatever. My body doesn’t process vitamin D well but I’ve also read that you shouldn’t take too much of it either. I’ll know I’m okay if I had a physical, which probably won’t happen until I get vaccinated, which is most likely in June. So many doctor things coming up! Meanwhile let’s make sure I’m at least functioning, mmh?

Life · Work

Media Blackout

I’m posting super late because, well, I’ve been kind of super demotivated lately. Starting with the last week of February – I had that weird insomnia episode and everything just kind of went into a haze afterwards. I had zero motivation to do anything, which I’m not proud of. Finally, I got myself motivated enough yesterday since it was the first of the month – a great fresh start, right? Nope! I sat down with the full intention of doing my normal planning and bullet journaling and blogging, only to be sidetracked by a news article. And then it was off to the races! I spent a good hour just browsing news and get demotivated by all the shit that’s going on in the world, and then I got on reddit, and, yeah, it was just a bad spiral all the way down. My plan of doing any work went to nil. And the day was wasted, with me being super upset to boot.

Well, because of all that, I’ve decided this month I’m going to put myself on a media and social media blackout. I will be completely blocking click-baiting sites like cnn.com, and of course no access to reddit or twitter or other forum-like places. (I do not have an active facebook, so at least there’s that.) I, however, will allow myself to look at npr.org, because I found that I can read NPR articles and stop at 1 or 2 articles, because their headline is factual and non-sensationalist. Because of that, I can read a report, get the info, and then go back to work. If it was CNN I’d be continuously clicking titles and skimming the barebones article and then immediately move on to the next one. Their marketing and clickbaiting works! So I’m going to cut myself off from going to that website at all. Ditto for reddit and other social media sites. It’s one thing if there’s amusing content, it’s another that, 4 out of 5 times, I leave feeling stressed, anxious, and upset. And that impacts my creativity so much. (I also give leeway to covid vaccine news, but I go straight to my state’s dashboard for that, so no clicking anything there).

I successfully blocked myself from these distractions today, and lo and behold, I’m finally beginning to get myself back into work-mode. Still didn’t write anything creatively, but at least I’m blogging, and journaling, and doing something productive for my mental health. I’m hoping I’ll return to writing tomorrow. At least a little bit. I can fill my time not doomscrolling with reading or playing a video game. Speaking of reading, I really need something lighthearted and fun for this month. I would like to keep up the habit, too. Well, I guess that’s the next goal.