Progress Update: Reflecting on Productivity and Book Writing

I feel so awful not having made any periodic updates for the blog and barely commenting on anything truly noteworthy. Short reviews of films I’ve watched or stopped watching early obviously aren’t a substitute for any genuinely insightful material. When thinking of this blog, I feel so bad for not having already finished and published my views on the latest Seasons of Umbrella Academy and The Boys, but I have indeed been doing a lot more work than before. Time-management is especially hard and yet, I realized that in retrospect I’ve been the most productive that I’ve ever been in years. The real issue is that I can’t really show any of that progress, because it all pertains to writing a very lengthy outline for a massive dark fantasy series that I intend to write. I had to spend time re-thinking who the final villain would be (and went through 3 possibilities before settling on the third), how I wanted certain concepts and building blocks in the multiple magic systems this story would have, changing which characters die and which remain relevant for a specific narrative purpose, adding characters that change the relationship dynamics that can be explored in the story, and adding extra material to each character arc to give further depth to each character. And this is all prior to the massive stockpile of books I’ve added as research material to go through in order to fully flesh the story. The reason I haven’t done anything else is to put razor-sharp focus on this story concept as it will not leave me. It may seem odd to non-writers for an idea itself to grip and beguile a writer, but that is what it feels like when making extensive outlines, added magic systems, and extended material to flesh out the worldbuilding for this story.

I had hoped to at least finish a short story by now, but I suddenly feel as if the short story I was working on for a while is missing something major. But perhaps I shouldn’t be too worried, if it is a test-run novel and I should accept the fact the first novel will be the worst? And yet . . . I seem forever stuck on outlining. Currently, to try to break this bad habit, I’ve decided to try writing both a story that uses an outline and a story that doesn’t have an outline (typically referred to as “discovery” writing nowadays) and see how it goes with finishing the actual projects. Yet, the beguiling major story always keeps my attention and essentially overrules other material that could take-up my attention. The only time I haven’t been writing when not busy with real life has been to continue with my self-imposed dedication to try to do all of SMTIII: Nocturne’s routes and endings in the PS4 version of the HD Remaster. I want to finish the Thematic Analyses once I’ve finished all routes and that’ll take time. I’ve been trying to play through one section of Live A Live each and did two playthroughs of Nocturne HD Remaster in first-person mode to prevent the experience from getting too monotonous. I tried playing some Xbox Game Pass, but I feel like I never have the time to juggle such things and I do want to completely finish Nocturne on PS4 first. Yet, progress for the blog posts won’t come about until after I’ve finished all my intended Nocturne HD Remaster playthroughs.

Sometimes, I fear that I’m deluding myself with all of this effort in writing. Apart from a joke book self-published in 2017, I haven’t been able to self-publish any more fantasy novels and it has been five years at this point. Judging from the statistics, I know that there are many people who have unpublished manuscripts or outlines for ideas that they’ve never been able to self-publish; I fear I am one of them at this point. This is the real conundrum of writing a book. There’s always this constant state of hopelessness and severe doubt, because there is no real milestone or readily available reward that can immediately give you feedback on your progress. Just your own random guesses, your own mutable preferences, and no guarantee that even if you write everything brilliantly as intended that it’ll lead to success. Scouring through the “lifetime” analysis of my self-published books of fiction and nonfiction, the results aren’t positive. Still, people leave positive reviews and do buy them. I know I’m my own worst critic in all of this. I try to remain positive and rational about all of this, but doubt is always a constant to the point that I always need to remind myself that trying to stay positive isn’t a futile effort in self-delusion. Part of the reason I’m hesitant in trying to finish one of my short story outlines is that I began to worry that I was exhibiting the same patterns I criticized in video games-inspired by the same material that I liked. That is, devoid of any nuance, meaning, and only copying an aesthetic while missing the underlying themes. This was despite the fact I wanted my short stories to be “test-run” novels. It always feels like they’re missing something and I’m not quite sure what. I think it may perhaps be a lack of a concrete challenge to personal views my characters hold, except by their respective main antagonists. Or perhaps, perfectionist tendencies subconsciously creeping up again and causing more self-doubt.

Despite how pointless and aimless this blog post has been, I do feel it helped to contextualize the challenges impeding my ability to write the shorter stories that I had meant to complete. The longform series hasn’t been negatively impacted and it feels so fulfilling to have spent so much time writing, but I’m just so unsure about the shorter stories now. Now that I’ve taken the time to write it all down and reclarified everything to myself and to potential blog readers, I think . . . I’ll just try three different methods and see what works for each short story that I have already planned and written outlines for. One story more disturbing than the others, one set with an outline, another story that will just be discovery writing, and so on. The major longform series and my other ideas for long series will probably only be made from thorough outlines though. I hope this blog post has brought some measure of utility for readers, for whatever it was worth.

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