Thursday, 23 July 2015

The Resurgence of POWER MONTH!

I'm feeling more energetic after my slump. I have written 40,000 words of my 70,000 CampNaNoWriMo target (though I might have cheated a little by including 6,000 words I wrote in the couple of weeks before... It was less demotivating than lowering my target!) and I'm more determined than ever to hit the target. The whole point of tackling my CampNaNoWriMo project is to  silence my inner critic by writing so much that I don't have time to pay attention to it. In theory, anyway! I can start critiquing my work after I hit the target and/or have a completed first draft of my novel.

I'm putting my next Scatterbrain Guide on hold. My novel is my priority and if I forced myself to write the Guide and publish it at the beginning of August, I doubt the quality would be up to my usual standard. I'd rather take a few extra weeks than charge people for a substandard ebook. It was a difficult but necessary decision to make. I'm disappointed, but when I launched Power Month I didn't expect to spend two weeks feeling like crap and neglecting my goals.

Power Month has been difficult, but I feel like it's pushing me forward towards my long-term goals. Here are some lessons I have learnt (so far) from Power Month:

1. You can't control hayfever, humidity headaches and feeling generally crap.
2. Stressing about the above will just make things worse.
3. You can adjust your goal (or how you measure it). It doesn't mean you have failed; it means you have reassessed the situation and are taking appropriate action to ensure you are as productive as you can be.
4. Worrying about not meeting your goals is a colossal waste of time. As is worrying about the amount of time you spend worrying.
5. You can work around feeling crap/worrying and still hit your targets.
6. Focusing on churning out a lot of words makes you less inclined to obsess over the quality of your writing.
7. Regardless of whether I hit my CampNaNoWriMo target, it feels pretty good to have written 40,000 words!

My new blog Resurfacing and Rewriting is going well, which I'm especially pleased about because it's a project very close to my heart: a positive blog about mental health and recovery from mental illness. Please check it out — there is plenty to explore regardless of whether you have mental health problems or not, including book recommendations. I like to think it's helping to break down the stigma surrounding mental illness and encouraging everyone to discuss mental health more openly.

Power Month is proving to be different from what I expected, but I have gleaned a lot of positives from the changes to my plan. It's difficult to assess while I'm still in the throes of Power Month, but I think it has been a success.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Recharging the Power

So... Power Month hasn't been going as well as I had anticipated. The slump was getting me down last week, so I decided to take some time off and recharge. I did nothing I didn't feel like doing, writing-wise. My novel lay untouched. I came to the end of my stash of ready-drafted blog posts for Resurfacing and Rewriting and write Friday's post off the top of my head: I think it turned out all right. I did a little freewriting, but that was it.

Today, I returned to my goals and I'm determined to achieve every single one. I will have to average over 3000 words a day to reach my CampNaNoWriMo target of 70,000 words but it's doable. My motivation has kickstarted itself again and I have faced the fact that if I quit or neglect my goals, I will regret it more than trying and failing to reach them.

The whole point of Power Month is that I wouldn't have time to psychoanalyse my every action. I didn't want to obsess over why I tend to procrastinate, especially when the goals are important to me (although I suspect I know the answer). So I am diving back into action and shall refuse to think about anything other than putting one foot in front of the other. Or, rather, I will try not to overthink everything...

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

POWER MONTH Hits a Slump

I declared July Power Month in my last post and the first few days went pretty well: I worked on my novel, blogged and felt positive about the month ahead. Then the weekend hit... Hay fever and headaches caused by humidity are partly to blame, but my motivation has sunk and I'm wasting time worrying instead of taking action.

My tactic for the whole month is to power through, but I will especially have to apply that to my novel today. I'm aiming to write 70,000 words during CampNaNoWriMo, so my daily target is 2,500 words — I've built in some wiggle room, but I didn't intend to fall behind in the first week! Doubts are creeping in: will the novel turn out okay? Am I an idiot to waste time writing it? Will everyone hate it? Should I just give up writing altogether? I know I've got to grit my teeth and write through the doubts, but it's bloody difficult.

Because the novel is proving such a struggle, I'm also neglecting my other projects. I've done a little preliminary work (brainstorming ideas and freewriting) but nothing major. I'm no closer to figuring out how to earn a living from writing. My next Scatterbrain Guide is just a bunch of scribbles. I haven't drafted a stash of blog posts. I've done very little work on short stories. Just writing about my failures makes me feel lazy and useless.

I hope this slump is a temporary setback. I had such high hopes for Power Month and never expected to fall at the first hurdle.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015


July is a big month for me. The Scatterbrain's Guide to Improving Your Life with Kaizen  launches today. 
I have written about kaizen a lot on this blog and I think it's a philosophy which suits most people. The concept is that you make small, continuous changes. Simple, right? Of course, it's trickier in practice than in theory and this new Scatterbrain Guide provides strategies which can help you make dramatic improvements with minimal effort.

I'm also starting CampNaNoWriMo today! I aim to write 70,000 words of my current novel in July, hopefully ending up with a complete draft. I actually wrote 20,000 or 30,000 words of the novel in question at the beginning last year, but it didn't work. Its reincarnation is told from a different point of view and the plot has been streamlined. I think CampNaNoWriMo will give me the kickstart I need, because having a big goal leaves little time to worry and obsess over how bad the novel is and how I'm a terrible writer. I struggle with letting go when writing first drafts. Once it's written, I can turn my critical eye to it and set about improving the draft.

More generally, I want to develop a clear strategy for my freelance writing (and related services) career. Being a more prolific short story writer will be an essential part of the strategy, but I would like to earn a living through working with words so that I can come off ESA and won't have to deal with the pressures and stigma of receiving benefits. I believe that would help my mental health and being self-employed means I can work around my mental illness and don't have the stress of being disciplined for having too much time off work, which led to me resigning from my last job. Wish me luck!

In addition, I am plugging away at my mental health blog Resurfacing and Rewriting, which I hope will support, encourage and inspire other people with mental health problems — though many of the posts are relevant to everyone. So far, I have had one comment which wasn't spam! Having said that, I have had a lot of encouragement via Twitter (my handle is @HayleyNJones if you would like to follow me), which has taken over Instagram as my preferred method of procrastination. The project is very important to me and I view it as part of my life's purpose because I want to help break down the stigma surrounding mental illness.

So July is POWER MONTH and I plan to power through, giving my current projects a big kickstart/leap forward. I'm quite excited! Although a lot has changed for me so far this year, I haven't progressed as much as I intended. For the first time in forever, I feel like I have control of my life and I want to move forward — as fast as I can.