WSPR #7: Fire Under Me

As I said last time, I really don’t want to *only* be writing about my struggles with productivity in this wlog, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I think it’s kind of boring just whinging about my problems post after post. But also because there’s lots more to write about the production of my web serial than that, and it does the whole endeavour a disservice not to get into those topics.

But there is a purpose to the whinging as well: ideally I’d like this to be a sort of time capsule of a time when I was struggling, as can be viewed from a (hopeful) future where I have my personal productivity much more figured out. I like to imagine what would have been helpful and meaningful for me to have read when I was starting out; certainly seeing the behind-the-curtain of the early days of various creators’ struggles with creating good work can be a source of relief to those currently trapped in such a struggle.

That’s what I like to think, anyway. This wlog is also supposed to be a sort of history of authorship for me as well, since my memory can be pretty poor. Something to look back on. A record of my journey.

Anyway that’s a long aside to say this post *will* be about productivity, but the next one ought not to be (since there’s plenty else I want to talk about). I should also say, if you’re reading this and you’re interested in my productivity journey in general, I have a podcast called The Skyward Spiral devoted to exactly that topic. Find it on any podcast directory or app.

Recently, due to a confluence of scheduled vacation, podcast production, and a certain degree of progress with my writing work, I set myself a deadline to finish what is now Book Zero of Breaking Hell. It’s Book Zero, because I split Book One into two, which is becoming something of a signature move of mine since I did the same split to my scifi novel in the works some time ago. The split actually works really well, and solved my issues with pacing, length, and cutting scenes I was aching over before – now nothing needs to be cut, inside the larger framework of two books.

I’m bad with deadlines I set myself and I know that. I’m too soft on myself, ready to forgive lapses, and forget schedules. I don’t have the drill sergeant inner voice that can really hold myself to account. However, another truth about me is I really don’t like to let people down – I’d rather promise nothing than not come through on my word. This deadline I’ve set, being a convergence of a few different factors, has ended up tied to other people’s expectations and timelines. Which means I suddenly take it very seriously.

The phrase I have been turning over in relation to this is the idea of “lighting a fire under me”, and it really does feel like that. Like my feet are on hot sand, I can’t stand still. And so far (a couple of days in) it’s working. I’ve been my most productive on Breaking Hell in months, and I’m feeling quietly confident about hitting the deadline, and writing quality work along the way.

So deadlines *do* work for me, I just need to calibrate them right. This is something I’m going to have to keep thinking about in the future. The typical pattern for a web serial is regular, scheduled uploads, and for a few reasons I decided against that early on. However, I think I will need to have some accountability to making regular progress as I actually gain a reader base and as there are expectations on the story and its production. Hold my feet to the fire, as it were.

I do not want to let anyone down, and I’ll try my best not to, as nervous as I am about meeting those expectations. We’ll see in future posts if I’m able to find a strategy that works for me and the reader effectively. Right now, I’m feeling optimistic.

As I said above, this is another rambly, indulgent, productivity post, but I’m hopeful it might be meaningful one day to at least someone out there – someone who’s in a similar situation perhaps, or just wants to see where and how creators started on long projects (Breaking Hell will be a very long project if I see it through). But it will be the last such post for a while I think. Next time I’ll write about writing, of which there’s plenty to talk about.

so long for now


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