Plans Are What Happens While Life’s Making… Something, Something



I said yesterday that today I was going to talk about my plans. I kind of wish that I had just pressed on ahead and shared them yesterday. I was counting on the idea of another day of sleep to give them additional clarity, but instead I find them a lot less solid and coherent. Yesterday I was thinking that today, I’d just have a few simple bullet points, maybe a paragraph each, explaining the major things going on and what I’m doing with them. Today that kind of clarity escapes me.

So let’s talk about the big one:

Tales of MU… no, it’s not abandoned or over. I made a mistake this past summer when I decided to relax and just accept a slower pace for updating as a good thing instead of constantly striving to get a schedule more frequent than once a week. My reasoning was solid (people had a hard time keeping up with the story when it was multiple times a week, and I had a hard time keeping up that pace), but… I need to strive, man. I need that struggle. Not only should my reach exceed my grasp, but it must, almost axiomatically. If I reach only for what is in my grasp, I find my grasp shortening commensurately.

At the same time… man, is this a terrible time and place for me to be trying to kick anything into high gear. It’s the holidays. There’s work going on in our house. There’s personal stuff. And even if I know that easing up on the throttle doesn’t work, that doesn’t mean that the problems associated with opening her up have gone away. I need to do something different here.

And that brings me to another point: I do need to do something different, frequently. I need to juggle things around, try new things, write new things, do different things. Be a serial writer some time. Be a tabletop game developer sometimes. Be a poet sometime. Write short stories sometimes.

I’ve tried dividing my days up into segments, but it’s too hard to switch tracks creatively in the middle of the day from one thing to another. I’ve tried the same thing by dividing weeks up into days, but then I can’t predict where my good days and bad days will fall and I wind up abandoning the schedule to work around them. The truth is that I do my best work on Tales of MU—or anything else—when I’m totally immersed in it, living and breathing it. But I can’t do that all the time for anything.

So the new plan is to switch off not on an hourly or daily basis, but in larger chunks of time… big enough that I can have some momentum going, that it doesn’t matter if I have a bad brain day or if my office environment is disrupted or whatever.

My thought is I can spend a few weeks (or maybe a month) just utterly focused on Tales of MU… not posting every day, but writing every day. Not with the goal of writing X chapters in Y days, but writing as much of the story as I can.

I think this answers my need for urgency and immediacy in my writing without being in the “write and then publish immediately” trap which leads to sub-standard writing, odd pacing, and missed deadlines. It gives me the room I need to see the big picture and to polish things up without taking away from the urgency. It lets me be both reflective and quick.

And then? I’ll post the fruits, at the sedate pace of one chapter a week.

Say I spend four weeks writing the story. When I’m trying to do a chapter every week on top of other things, it’s stop and go. Every week I’m starting over, dipping myself back into the world, figuring out where I’m going, looking for traction and building speed. Instead of that, I just… keep going. Maybe I come up with 7 or 8 chapters. Maybe I come up with 10 or 12.

And when I’m done, I publish those chapters, one a week. While they’re first playing out this gives me time to do other things, be other things. Do game stuff. Be a poet for a while. Write some short stories. Take a creative break. I’ll know how many chapters I have, so I know at what point I have four of them left and then it’s time to start over.

If I somehow only get four chapters done in my four weeks of MU time, of course, I keep writing… but if that happens very often, then I’ll know that this system’s not working as intended and it’s time to try something else.

Now, this is something I just came up with this week as a plan of action, not something I’ve been doing all along. And I know “Tales of MU will resume in four weeks” is not the news that anyone wants to hear, but that’s where we are. Next week’s going to be a lot of family time, so it’s going to be more reflection and brain storming and getting back into the characters’ heads and the logic of the world and its plots than actual writing… this seems like a better use of my time than trying to hammer out a chapter. Subsequent MU Writing Blocks will not be coming after so long an interruption so they might need less of a lead-in time, but to be clear, this lead-in week is part of the four weeks.

That’s what’s going to happen with Tales of MU. For the next four weeks, Tales of MU is what I’m going to be doing, creatively. It’s not all I’m going to be doing, period, but I feel like at this point the other items on the agenda merit their own posts.

Now, four weeks from today—the point at which I wrap the first writing phase up—is December 18th. That means the week following it would be the first week of posting. I don’t really like having Friday as a posting day (as I’ve mentioned before, it’s often the most chaotic day in the house), and that following Friday just happens to be Christmas. We’ll make it Monday, the 21st… eve of the winter solstice. Seems like a fitting day for light to come back after a long period of rest.

That’s the big bullet point on this post for people who don’t care about reasons or process: Tales of MU returns December 21st, and if this goes to plan, it will continue posting once per week with some regularity.