Tag: blog

Aft Gang Aglay

I wouldn’t claim that my plans in the second half of last year were especially well laid.

I worry about burnout. When I look back I would say that I’ve had several phases of being burned out in the past, although they also coincided with episodes of depression. Last year I was not depressed in any meaningful way: anxious, certainly, because there were things going on that made me fret far more than I usually would, but I was not undergoing the numbness that depression usually brings to me.

Not depressed, but definitely burned out. Burn out city, man.

Hence, while I planned on continuing my monthly goal update posts during this hiatus, I have not been following my personal planning routines at all. While I expected to focus on my writing, I instead found myself flapping around loose, too exhausted to focus on anything at all.

In the midst of that flap I went to the Willamette Writers Conference. I like that conference, and I like the people I meet there. I found several like-minded writers who I wanted to stay in touch with… but then my burn out took away any hope of actually maintaining contact. Everything seemed hard, from sending email to making words. I felt like I had been given a gift but then squandered it.

My gut feeling on this is that I was trying to do too many things at once. I have always been someone who starts new things readily, but I don’t have the time or energy to do all of it and while I can sometimes manage to juggle six or ten things for a short period of time, something has to drop. Last summer, I dropped everything.

Two things this year have helped me drag myself back to something approaching a functional creative life.

Firstly, my wife and I took a mindful self-compassion class. I am not someone who has ever had any kind of mindfulness practice, although one of the goals of my exercise routine is to shake my brain away from its loops and whorls, and I now identify this as a kind of mindfulness. The tools I learned in that class have been very helpful in letting myself be kinder to myself.

Secondly, the pandemic pause. This time of forced separation from the world has allowed me to retrench, to recharge some batteries that I didn’t even know were drained. It has got me back to making stories because I want to rather than out of obligation.

With that, I will say that this blog is still on hiatus from any kind of regular posting, but I expect to put things here a little more often. There are stories and projects I want to talk about, and this is where I do that.

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Multitasking is not a skill at which I excel.

I make lists, I set goals, and I track how I’m doing against those goals, but jumping from task to task reduces my effectiveness on each task.

I work best on one thing at a time. It’s one of the reasons why bug reports and fires in the day job can be so disruptive, because it’s not just the loss of time working on a task but the time to switch contexts, and rebuilding a complex context to reengage with an intricate task is computationally expensive.

However, I also work best on tasks in one arena if I have other things to do in other scopes. This is why I collect hobbies. I do have limits, though. In my experience, I can really work on roughly three things at once: one personal goal, one writing goal, and one day job goal, say.

Some things are routine enough that I don’t really have to think about them. My weight and exercise goals are more or less in that routine category now; I still have work to do but I don’t have to be especially vigilant to remember to not eat piles of sugar or to go for a run.

Writing new narrative is not routine. I only have a limited amount of time and everything is complicated. Switching tasks in this arena basically means I don’t do any task well.

I had hoped that blogging would become routine, but it has not. Having a schedule helped, but sticking to it became a burden that crushed my other writing. My focus has to be on my fiction, and the cognitive gear crashing of regular blogging is not something I can make my brain do right now.

In other words, this is my last blog post for a while.

I will still post goals updates, because that progress tracking remains helpful and encouraging, but I am making official what was already de facto: I am taking a blog break.

I will post more about what I’ve been writing when I’ve written more of it.

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Blog Schedule

This blog hasn’t really been on a schedule of any kind in a little while, and it shows – the only regular posts are the goals updates, with occasional excursions into craft and process.

The reasons for this are many fold but mostly revolve around working on The Book. I don’t really mind if I blog less in order to write fiction, but I also don’t want to have Identity Function fall to abandonment. Also also, there is the fact that when I have a regular schedule I write more in general. I started this blog as a way to keep the fingers moving, and that is still a relevant purpose.

Which is all to say that I am going to be starting a new blog calendar this week. There isn’t any particular significance to the timing apart from having returned energised from the Willamette Writers Conference, but this week is when the calendar starts.

From here, you should see weekly posts on Tuesday following this sequence each month:

  • first Tuesday: writing craft
  • second Tuesday: context – science, politics, and so on
  • third Tuesday: business of writing
  • fourth Tuesday: inputs – books, games, and other media
  • fifth Tuesday: wildcard

I will still be writing my monthly Things posts, and those will appear close to the first of each month.

And that’s my plan. I will see you back here tomorrow for the first post of the new schedule.

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One year on

Today is the first anniversary of Identity Function. Here, have a picture of a mountain.

Mount Adams with a storm coming

Mount Adams with a storm coming

I’ve certainly enjoyed this first year, and the blog has certainly served its original purpose of keeping my fingers moving when I might otherwise have sunk into the mire of unproductive surfing. Deadlines will do that.

Thank you to you, my readers, for letting me borrow your attention every other day and for providing entertaining and useful commentary. I’m always impressed by any internet community which remains civil, and you are an impressive bunch.

If you have any particular subject you would like me to write about here, or a question you have about my approach to writing, feel free to put a note in the comments. Email will also probably work, but spam filters in the email stream sometimes block legitimate correspondence.

Thank you again.

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Back to normal

september-launchSeptember dawns, the crisp autumnal air freshening perceptions dulled by months of soporific heat*, while schedules return to normal and I, at least, can hopefully get some writing done.

So it is time to get back to the usual posting schedule for this here blog.

Let me say hello again.

I am Duncan Ellis, an author of code for money and fiction for fun. I write science fiction novels for the most part, and maintain this blog as a way of talking about my writing and the process of converting evanescent ideas into publishable stories.

What you’ll find here are posts about writing: technique, writing books, time management, and notes on where I am with my writing goals. I will also write about National Novel Writing Month during that festival of furious fictionalising. My usual posting schedule is Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Thank you for reading.

[*] or stunted by months of dispiriting rain; it rather depends. I hope your summer had the weather you were looking for.

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