January 2021 Update

Happy New Year!

Or, at least, I hope this new year will prove to be better than the previous one.

Regarding my previous update, I’m happy to tell you that I achieved both goals: I’ve published the list with my 12 favourite books/series of the year 2020 and I’ve commissioned a couple of artists. I hope I can show you their amazing work in the following months!

Working on the reference files during January has been very useful, since I’ve been able to clear my mind and fix some issues. I’ve done a lot of research, and I feel that I’ve overcome some obstacles and moved forward. Some days were a bit frustrating, because I spent hours looking for a document that, in the end, didn’t have the information some historians claimed it had. But I guess discovering what’s a rumour or a fact is also part of the process. I rested a bit after that exhausting experience and then I went back to writing. I even wrote some scenes (completely out of order, as always) and now one of my stories has a beginning and an end.

At the moment, I’m letting the new information and ideas marinate for a while before I continue, so I did some word counting again. The first time I did it was two months ago and I was surprised at the results: I’d written much more than I thought! I usually hate word-counting, but this is a more general approach, and I also include all the notes and research files. I think it’s good to acknowledge that, even if not all our work will be part of the final story, it still counts. So I went and checked Scrivener, and this is how it’s going:

  • Heroes: 20000 (It was 14000 two months ago.)
  • Fireflies: 17000 (It was 8500 two months ago.)
  • Brothers: 24000 (It was 19000 two months ago.)
  • Alcalá: 18000 (It was 5000 two months ago.)
  • Oracle: 120000 (It was 99000 two months ago.)
  • Academy: 30000 (It was 15000 two months ago.)
  • Feathers: 8700
  • Sanctuary: 35000 (It was 6000 two months ago.)

I can’t believe I’ve written so much in such a short period of time! And there was a noticeable increase in all projects but one because, as I said, I can’t follow a chronological order. In any case, I had my holidays during lockdown and did all that research for the reference files, so don’t expect this rhythm from me in the near future. Although I can’t help but notice that I’ve been doing better now that I don’t force myself to complete one single project from beginning to end, so I’m going to follow this chaotic approach until it stops working.

I’ve decided I don’t want New Year resolutions this year either because they only make me anxious and guilty, so I’m still keeping my eternal goal of fulfilling The Pact to Finish Something (with no deadline). Plus, my two Achievable Goals of the month will be to implement timelines in my projects and to update the character templates with the information from the reference files I created for artists.

Do you have any New Year resolutions? Are you recycling last year’s resolutions?

Blue fireworks against a black sky.
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December 2020 Update

I hope you’re all enjoying the holidays despite the pandemic, as well as taking care of yourselves and others. I’m not going back home this year, but I’m spending the holidays with my partner, so I was looking forward to them. We’ve ordered some Spanish food online so we don’t feel that far away and we’re planning to meet our friends online.

As for writing, I’ve been focusing on the Sanctuary project since my last monthly update, and I managed to write quite a bit. The short story is starting to look more like a novella! I now have half a draft, a few outlines and character arcs, and even some reference images and maps.

I downloaded OneNote for my smartphone, and I’m now using it to take track of the research links and to take notes. I’m still using my loyal notebooks, of course, but my insomnia worsened and I needed something I could use in the dark. And the app has been useful, since it synchronizes automatically with my laptop. By the way, I’m using the online version on my laptop because it’s free. Just in case that’s relevant to your interests.

Right now, I’m working on making a timeline for the Sanctuary project (I write my scenes out of order, so I hope this helps to keep track of what happens when) and a post with my favourite books among those I’ve read during 2020.

That reminds me… I also achieved my two goals for this month, as you might have seen thanks to Twitter and my notebook update. My goals for next month will be: to finish the book recs post of 2020 and to get myself some art for my projects as a Christmas present. I’ve always thought my stories were not worthy of art, or that at least I should wait until I finished one of the stories before commissioning anything. But I realized that looking for the barely-related images for my Projects page made me happy, so next year I’m gonna try to do it the other way round and find the motivation to finish a WIP in art.

A winter road crossing a pine forest covered in snow.
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November 2020 Update

It’s been a while since my last update, but this time it’s not due to anxiety or a lack of news, but because I can’t use my computer at the moment. I’ve ordered a new laptop (I’d been postponing it for years), but it won’t arrive until New Year, maybe.
During these two months I have participated in both the reading challenge I mentioned and a writing challenge on the Spanish side of Twitter. I made a Twitter thread for those of you who might be interested:

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On this blog, you might have seen I made a new page for my WIPs. Organizing things visually for my blog helped me organize things in my head as well, so it’s been really useful. For real! I even check my own WIP page from time to time to remember what I’m working on.

I’ve also been reorganizing my Scrivener projects while I wait for my new computer to arrive so I can transfer everything and start working as soon as it’s here. I made another short thread about it here:

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

I always feel like I don’t do enough because I’m a slow writer and haven’t even started with the drafts, but I realized that, when it’s about my friends, I always tell them that taking notes, working on the outline and doing research also count as writing. I usually don’t check the word count, but I did it now in order to see for myself how hard I’ve worked during this last decade… and I must confess that the results surprised me.


Here is a list of the words I’ve written so far on each project, including research, notes, ideas, etc.:

  • Heroes: 14000
  • Fireflies: 8500
  • Brothers: 19000
  • Alcalá: 5000
  • Oracle: 99000
  • Academy: 15000
  • Feathers: 8700
  • Sanctuary: 6000

I know it’s not much, but that’s a lot for me, especially after these difficult years. So if you’re also a slow writer or just don’t appreciate the work you do, I recommend to look at the whole picture from time to time. All your work matters and you’ve put in much more effort than you’re giving yourself credit for.

Since I cannot use my computer, I’ve been writing a lot on my notebooks and I finished my 11th notebook recently. I’ll make another post to talk about it in more detail.

So, to sum up, I chose some achievable goals last time, but I’m still glad I completed them. My next two goals will be to finish reorganizing my projects and transcribing my 11th notebook so I can transfer everything when my new laptop arrives.

"November" written with dead leaved on the ground.
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September 2020 Update

I’m back with an early update because this blog has been too lonely since June. July was a productive month, actually. I started reading and writing again, and even filled a whole notebook with new ideas, but then I was too tired and overworked to do anything else.

The summer holidays were good and necessary, but I tried to do too much to make the most of the lockdown situation. In the end, I didn’t do even half of what I wanted to do, mainly because I have listed all the stuff I haven’t been able to do in years. Obviously, a short summer holiday wasn’t going to be enough.

But let’s go back to writing. I’ve started to second-guess all those life-or-death decisions I never feel 100% sure about, like using first or third person narrator… or having more than one POV… I sometimes feel like, with every notebook, I take one step forward and two steps back. I try not to overthink, but I can’t help it. I tell myself (and others) that a good story is a finished one, but I haven’t been able to finish anything. I feel like I’ve lost track of how many stories I’ve started. So I’m going back to setting goals.

In the following month, I want to try participating in the Spanish #LeoAutorasOct challenge, which means I will read stories published by authors who use she/her pronouns (yes, NB authors who use she/her pronouns are included). There’s a bingo, too, but I might cheat a bit and cross out more than one option per book. I say cheat, but is it really cheating if the rules state that it’s allowed?

My other goal will be to make a list of future projects. I saw it’s a thing that some Spanish authors do and hopefully it will help me remember what I have in mind because I keep losing track of everything. And lockdown isn’t helping.

I hope you all had a nice summer, and remember to get the flu shot if you can!

Bicycle in the center of a path through the forest. The trees are tall and have green leaves, but the ground is covered with fallen leaves.
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June 2020 Update

Last “monthly” update was April because I skipped May’s. I guess there wasn’t much to tell. I was still unable to read, but I did write a bit and started a new notebook. I had some free days and, although I spent them in lockdown, I’m sure they’re the reason I was able to relax enough to keep writing despite the anxiety.

I decided that I’m not going to focus on finishing anything at the moment because I’m no good at it. If I feel like writing a scene, that’s what I’ll do. If I feel like doing some research, that’s great. I’ve just decided not to care if what I’m doing is good or useful. I just want to enjoy what I’m doing.

In June, work has been busy, but I’ve been able to concentrate more. Maybe I’m getting used to working from home, but I’m still too exhausted to write afterwards and I definitely don’t want to stay all day in front of the same computer.

Compared to April and May, I’m feeling a bit better now, but maybe I’m misremembering because the bad times have passed… I did have some some dark moments that required an emergency therapy session. I’m doing much better now, though, so I’m focusing on that!

At least I’ve been reading again, which I take as proof that I’m doing better.
I realized I was unable to enjoy new books, so I’ve been re-reading some old favourites. With the help of my book recs posts, I’ve been able to make a rather long list of books I want to re-read. Since I didn’t even want to re-read books when I was at my worst, this is a good sign for me.

Let’s hope I can keep it up during the month of July!

Blue butterflies among mushrooms.
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April 2020 Update

A bit late, but I wanted to finish transcribing my ninth notebook before I wrote this, so it’s taken a while. Since my last update, I’ve gone back to work (now from home) and realized I suffer from what I’ve seen people call Quarantine Brain Fog. My sleep pattern is in a what-is-a-pattern state, I forget all sorts of things (words especially) and, even though I’ve never been able to comprehend linear time that well, right now time has no meaning whatsoever.

One good thing that came from all this is that I’ve been putting my mental health first, so I’ve stopped writing from Monday to Saturday. From Monday to Friday I try to focus on my job, then I get upset because I can’t, and then I try to rest until I feel well enough to go to sleep. On Fridays and Saturdays I’m exhausted. So it’s not until Sunday when my batteries have recharged enough for me to write. And I’m enjoying it when I do, it’s just… I can’t do it while I’m working.

My goal now is to keep writing as long as I’m enjoying it. And that happens when I’m well rested, so I’m making sure I rest a lot after work. The difficult part is not feeling guilty. Although it somehow feels easier now that we’re all in it together. Knowing that this is a normal reaction to the pandemic and quarantine and that I should be careful with a few specific things helps a lot. People share their experience and advice everywhere, even on newspapers, and I’m more aware of my emotional state, even if the ups and downs are always unexpected and I can’t read anything right now.

So yeah, it’s been a slow process, but I’m writing, and even though I only write for some hours on Sundays, I managed to fill the second half of a notebook. This is more than I’ve written in the past 5 months, so I’m thinking I should accept this is my new pace. Although it’s slow… if it works, it works.

A male robin with pink flowers on the background.
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March 2020 Update

This post has a couple of questions for you all.

I’ve been quiet for a long time and just came back to post some book recs for people who want to read during their quarantine/lockdown/isolation. I wanted to contribute somehow, as I regret not having written something I could share for free, but I wasn’t planning on doing anything else (not even updates) at the moment.

However, I started checking my old updates and realized they’ve helped me a lot. I had previously noticed, while checking what I’ve read to make my book recommendation posts, that January and February are the worst months for me. Now I’ve noticed that every year I stop updating around October. October, November and December are very busy months, which might mean my anxiety peaks and that’s why January and February are bad months for me.

I always get sick around February and March, too. Although I can see now that I start feeling better during March. Usually, anxiety and depression get more manageable as the days get longer and warmer. Does that mean I have Seasonal Affective Disorder? Well, it is a mood disorder, so it can be related to my anxiety and depression even if I don’t have SAD (because I still have anxiety all year round, so it’s not a seasonal thing). It’s clear that the lack of sunlight affects me more than I thought, so I’ve bought one of those light therapy things, but I’m not sure if it’s the right thing for me. Do you have similar issues and is there anything you recommend?

In any case, I just wanted to explain how the monthly updates are working quite well for me. I’m sorry if it gets boring for you people, but I’m learning a lot about myself and my seasonal patterns. I see bullet journals have become quite popular nowadays. Do you have one and does it help you in this way?

Magnolia tree.
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September 2019 Update

Not a very fruitful month, but more than the previous one. I’ve finished the outlines I intended to write, but they’re very vague. With points that read “Shit happens, but they solve it somehow”. You know, not very detailed. So I’m not very happy with them, but that’s not the only thing I’ve done.

I’ve been gone on a research trip that helped me with one of the stories, which is starting to sound more and more interesting to me. This research trip involved going to a beach in Northern Spain, so it was nice. And I bought some books, did some reading and had some good ideas that sound like they’ll be fun to write. I’m looking forward to it, but I do need free time.

I did start a new notebook and I’ve filled a quarter of it, so I should be proud, but I want to do more. It feels like it’s never enough, and I’m the first to tell my friends off when they do this to themselves, so I’m trying to follow my own advice and take it easy.

And now that I mention taking it easy… I’ve never participated in NaNoWriMo because it’s the opposite… and I’m not going to officially start this year, but I do wonder whether it’ll be good to have a month in which I prioritize writing, even if I do it on my own and I don’t finish the story.

So I have two new goals for October: to get things ready so I can start writing in November (maybe I can make a better outline and work on research), and to fill at least half of my new notebook.

Hope you all enjoyed the end of summer!

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