Articles, Miscellaneous

Here’s to 2016: What I’m Getting Done This Year

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It’s almost beyond parody these days to write a “new year, new me” post. It’s almost as much beyond parody to think that the changing of a calendar is meaningful enough for serious life change – the traditional New Years Resolutions never last beyond a few weeks, and they’re usually the same vapid “I’ll be a new me! I won’t drink anything!” stuff.

I myself am guilty of this; I sat in December 2014 setting out my stall for 2015 with a similar sense of deluded optimism; however, I have to say, I am pleased that 2015 is over. It’s a year overshadowed by some pretty deep and painful personal tragedies but also tumultuous change, which is scary, so yeah my goals went completely out of the window, but in a sense, especially coming to the personal tragedies (I’m not going to discuss them here, mainly as they’re intensely personal and people I want to know do already, plus again, I want to start 2016 fresh), I’m pleased they’re confined to 2015.

A few weeks ago I was having a conversation with a very close friend of mine about my goals for 2016 and he gave me some excellent advice that has really struck me: don’t make a list of New Years resolutions to be forgotten about by February if you’re lucky, or a list of hopes and dreams (or other sentimental nonsense) – make list of things you will get done in the new year. And so, I intend to do just that:

  • I’m going to make a concerted effort to do well in my university studies – I’ve already acknowledged that, with the first semester, I allowed a few personal gremlins to kind of allow me to sink into a few lazy habits. They’re going to be banished. I’m actually enjoying university and the challenge, on an academic level, it’s presenting; I know I can do well, and my confidence is there. Plus, I’ve got some good university friends who have backed me up thus far and I look forward to more mutual support from them in the coming semester.
  • I want to find more time to do more reading – I’ve let myself become lazy with my reading, both for pleasure and academic study, which is a shame as I love books. If I had to pick out of music, books, games and television, I’d have to choose books as my primary vessel of entertainment. I’ve gotten into using Goodreads as a social tracker of my book progress and I really do find it useful! One of the most important pieces of  advice for a writer is that to be a great writer one must be a great reader, so it’s about time I took that to heart! Looking forward to setting my goal for 2016!
  • It’s time I got back in the saddle with my writing – for reasons I pointed out initially, I’ve been a bit dry when it comes to writing my own stories for pleasure; my output in 2015 has been pretty barren compared to 2014. That said, I want to move on with a load more projects:
    • More short stories – I’ve learned some interesting tips and techniques, especially for characterisation, across 2015 and it’s time to put them into practise. I don’t want to bind myself to a set number/output (writing doesn’t happen that way), but if I could come out of 2016 with 6-8 short stories that I am truly proud of, I will be happy.
    • I want to fully outline my post-apocalyptic novel The Thaw by the end of the first half of the year – this is a project I do feel could be great, but that I need to step up and organise for fully. I want to be in a position to take a deep breath over the summer and actually have the first draft written before I return to University in September, so I want to make sure that the b ulk of the organisational work is complete before then.
    • I also want to commence editing proper on Mars Zero – it’s been too long since I approached this project, and there’s a lot of work to do. But I still truly believe this story is worth pursuing, especially if I work hard to “science” it up and make use of the skills I have learned
    • I’m still committed to make prose my primary format, but I would definitely like to complete work on my first short film script, possibly work on another concept I have and write a play (possibly to produce/direct toward the latter half of 2016)
  • Most of all, I want to make so much better use of my time. I allow my perceived lack of ability drain my confidence, and I procrastinate horrendously. If I make one big personal commitment, it’s to have more confidence in what I do and to waste less time. Sure, free time and low time is important, and I don’t want to be too rigidly-scheduled but it’s about tightening up and getting sh*t done.
  • Oh, and getting to 14 stone by the summer would be raaaaad.
Announcements

Two New Projects!

I’m very happy to be in a position where I can explain in detail the two projects I’m currently excited to be working on!

Doors (a short film)

For the first part of the year I’ve been working with my good friends (and filmmakers) Gary Thomas and Mark Lever as I develop my first full short film script.

Doors is a science-fiction/psychological horror charting one man’s journey into madness as he tests the latest word in wearable tech. Think Google Glass meets Microsoft Hololens… with an alien twist that drives one man to the brink of insanity as he struggles to believe what he sees.

I hope to blog a lot more about Doors over the remainder of the year as I work with Gary and Mark to refine the script. As a group, it’s hoped to put Doors into actual production in 2016.

It’s also been quite an experience to work in a totally different form of writing – I’ve never really written a screenplay before, and despite initially being quite reserved about it, I have found the experience to be quite liberating, and there’s a palpable sense of seeing one’s idea develop across drafts.

The Thaw (novel)

I’ve also undertaken the first steps in a new novel, to which I have attached the title The Thaw. I plan for this to be a post-apocalyptic adventure charting a man’s initially insular desire to protect his family from an oppressive rump state that ostensibly protects the survivors of a nuclear holocaust in North America but is hell-bent on picking up where the atomic bombs left off with an army of super-soldiers bred from the very children of those it purports to protect.

This is a great opportunity for me to give something back to a genre I truly love. I want to put my own mark on the genre; before, having played games such as Fallout that have arguably perfectly-realised backstories and narratives, I felt that I was limited to what I could add to the genre. However, now I feel I have an idea (again, I hope to talk about it in more detail as I go through the writing process) that I can develop and have faith in, I reckon the time is right to craft my own destroyed utopia and tell a story that I feel will resonate with people.

Now that I have opened the proverbial can of worms, I really can’t wait to get started getting these projects moving! I have waited until I have made tangible progress on each before I announce them; too often, it’s easy to say you’re going to do something and then never mention it again. With Doors I have two drafts of a script and plenty of excellent, constructive feedback to work with for the third draft; I have at the same time made a concerted effort to make a start outlining The Thaw – I’ve plenty of notes for my backstory and universe that the story will take place in but it is now that I have a few chapters outlined (roughly, at least!) I feel that the project has the steam up.

With both of these things, I ended up doing a lot of insular, introspective planning but transcending that thought process into tangible preparatory work is the greatest leap I face with new projects. And I have faith in the concepts between both of these ideas that I feel they can now take a wide slice of my time.

Articles, Miscellaneous

Plans and Resolutions for 2015

2014 has been a great year overall, and certainly one that I shall see as a definite milestone. With 2015 only a few solar cycles away, I’m addressing and setting out my stall for what I want to accomplish from the next year, just like I did before.

Workflow

I feel that especially in the last quarter of the year that my workflow has suffered a little, possibly in conjunction with my new university studies. Regardless, I’m resolved by a number of surprising academic results to tighten my ship and adopt a thoroughly revamped and refocused workflow that I hope will allow me to achieve more:

  • I will set aside five days a week to actually do creative stuff; of course, a couple of rest days will be most welcome. Can’t be all work and no play!
  • Adoption of the Pomodoro technique more rigidly. I feel this would correlate with my preference for short bursts of activity, as opposed to slogging out sessions (though I won’t rule those out). I’ll initially aim to focus my efforts in these sessions in these areas:
                    • Writing new prose, either as a short story or a potential new novel draft.
        • Writing my short film scripts; I’ve several ideas that I want to develop and at least have completed first drafts of
        • Concepting new ideas; ideally into single-page concept documents that I can pick up later.
        • Revising previously-written work for publication

 

  • Aim to publish a new short story on my website in the last week of every month.
  • Re-organise my digital workflow; I’ll be creating annual folders in my project file to keep a more organised track of the ideas and things I’m working on. A tidy house is a productive one

In terms of projects, I’ve a few goals there, too; especially for the first half of 2015:

  • January: produce and outline my new post-apocalyptic novel idea, Before the Winter
  • January – March: Write a first draft of aforementioned novel of at least 65,000 words
  • February: Finish and digitise my annotated notes for the second edition of my novel Colonisation
  • January – March: Finish and finalise the script for my short film idea, Doors
  • March – May: begin preparation and drafting for my second short film idea, working title of Mrs. Appleton

I’d also like to:

  • Submit a short story each month from either my current stock or new material.

Become an active member in the following organisations:

Personal

To achieve above I need to address a few key issues personally that I feel have bugged me and that New Year 2015 presents an excellent opportunity to address:

  • Rationalising my bedtime; I spend far too many late nights either wasting time online or watching TV, and I do suffer from fatigue as a result. I need to work to claw back some of my night-time for good quality rest away from burning my retinas on LCDs. My body clock needs resetting!
  • I will no longer be drinking carbonated drinks from January; I have proved I can go a month without Coke before and I feel that it’s something that’ll greatly benefit me. I’ll also hope to swap m y junk food diet for more fresh fruit and less ready meals. If I’m less tired, I’ll be more inclined to prepare my own meals.
  • Discovering more music: a couple of great Twitter friends have helped me get out of the 70s prog rock rut I’d nestled myself in and fill my shelves. I’ll aim to slowly but steadily increase my collection though services like Spotify but also through personal recommendations.
  • Reading more: an avid reader makes a great writer, so the adage goes, and I’ve let my progress slip a little. Again, I’m going to aim to do about half an hour of reading a night to tie-in to my bedtime reconstitution; reading being a great way to help the brain to wind down and prepare for sleep, especially away from an LCD. And you never know, it may even inspire something awesome!

So, that’s my list and I hope to make good of it. I’m also aiming to not let this get lost to the mists of time and I’ll be placing a printed version on my wall above my work station to remind me of these goals. I’ll aim to keep my blog updated with progress – there’s a few projects I couldn’t discuss here but should be absolutely awesome as I’ll be working with some absolutely great people and it should hopefully be a valuable experience.

This time next year I’ll want to be able to say I’ve got the following done during 2015:

  • Finished editing Colonisation
  • Written a new novel (and begun redrafting)
  • Written twelve short stories for a potential second anthology
  • Written (and started production) on my first short film
  • Lost weight
  • Treated myself to a year of decent sleep, music and books

See you on the other side, and happy new year!

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