(October 27- November 2)
Small milestone / breakthrough (breakstone?) in the novel this week—I finished editing chapters one through three (or the prologue and chapters one and two, if you want to make things difficult … which I do) and started writing an entirely new chapter!
This followed some minor restructuring whereby I decided that a chapter planned for later should, in fact, happen earlier in the book. I’m only 400 words in, but it already feels like the right move; the chapter formerly known as three simply felt out of place the first time I started writing it (which is part of the reason why work on the novel stalled for a little while).
In the life hack department, I’ve been trying out a few different ways of organising my morning to ensure I can get a sufficient amount of writing done. In a typical morning I have the following things that need doing:
- Spend some time on the cross trainer, with possible showering depending on how much time and effort goes into the cross trainer part;
- Make coffee, breakfast, etc;
- Feed and clean out the chickens (yes, I have chickens!);
- Awaken the Elderbeast and ensure he gets dressed, has breakfast, cleans his teeth, packs his bag.
- Drop the Elderbeast at the bus stop ready for school;
- Awake the Kinderbeast and repeat step 5;
- Clean and dress myself (unless step 2a has already taken care of this);
As you may deduce there are a lot of things in that list that are not writing and, furthermore, which are generally incompatible with writing. My prime strategy for dealing with this has been to start getting up at 6am instead of 6:30am. This has worked for the most part, although the time available for writing still varies dramatically from around 30 to 15 minutes.
I’ve found—largely because of the way in which time works—that skipping the cross trainer vastly increases the available time I have for writing, but this is not desirable since exercise is one of the things I really, really need to be making time for. However, I’ve also discovered that I my writing shifts will typically start to run out of steam after about 30 minutes which means that carving out more than half an hour in my morning for writing is somewhat counterproductive.
Anyway, I hope you’ve enjoyed this gripping insight into how the first two and a half hours of my day typically gets eaten up before I’ve even left the house. Let’s move on.
This week’s viewing of interest was the first two episodes of Daybreak on Netflix, which was picked by the Elderbeast (admittedly, with my encouragement and support). I wasn’t quite sure what to expect of this, but once I twigged that it was basically Ferris Bueller Fights The Zombie Apocalypse—and even featured Matthew Broderick (brilliantly cast as the school principal)—I was on board. I love a bit of meta.
While it’s not quite up to John Hughes’ standards, it comes close enough for comfort. I’m especially impressed at the way Daybreak starts off with an isolated main character, then effortlessly paints an entire world around him while simultaneously introducing a diverse and unpredictable range of supporting characters. It’s a brilliant example of how to write an opening episode while keeping it part of the ongoing story (too many series openers take the ‘prologue’ option: set up the character(s), set up their normal world, then tear it down).
Three weeks later and I’m still ‘tearing through’ Shift, the second part of Hugh Howey’s Wool trilogy. I’m really enjoying this one, and while there are bits and pieces I remember, there’s a refreshing amount of plot and detail that I’d forgotten since my first read.
The structure is pretty smart: going back to the creation of the silos, and featuring various other events from the past, but telling the main story in the ‘present day’ timeline of the world. The technique risks fragmenting the story, but Howey’s a good enough writer to ensure that all of the background material also feeds into the main story—even to the extent that the silos and their history become an integral character.
The book ends on a sort of cliffhanger, which is a bit cheeky, but since I’m planning to read the final book anyway I’ll let it pass.