Thursday, January 29, 2015

Moving In Weird Circles

I got a drunk text last night from someone whose phone number is not recorded somewhere in the bowels of my space phone. It wasn't too hard to figure out who sent it.

Now, usually when someone gets a drunk text, it winds up falling into one two general groups:

Incoherent rambling or too-coherent over-sharing. For example, that one time you sent your boss a text reading "FFFUWJKFDS vodka is wargarbl." Or perhaps you sent him a drunken but sadly-far-too-intelligible demand for pictures of his man parts. Maybe you did that last night. You dirty bitch, you.

Anyway. It happens. The text messages in question may simply be photos. On one end of the spectrum, blurry pictures of a bottle of whatever gut-rot the sender was swilling down, or an even blurrier picture of someone's elbow. You get the idea. Or worse, they sent out really incriminating pictures of things that probably shouldn't be leaving their phone. Fleshy bits. Pasty photos of fleshy bits which spend most of their time hidden from the purifying rays of the sun. Or maybe the photo was somebody doing something illegal and/or dangerous. But hilarious at the time.

Then whoever blurted out the drunk text wakes up the next morning and has to do forensics on their message log to find out who they should apologize to. Or at least who they owe a rundown to of last night's shenanigans. This can either be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how hung over they are and who the recipient of their message was ("I'm sorry, Father Marcus!").

I don't get those.

Not because I don't have any friends, which is a legitimate concern given that I am nerdy as fuck, but more because I have strange friends.

I'd say about 50% of the people I know who are likely to text me are dog people. Not just "people who own and like dogs" but actual dog professionals. The sorts of people who put on suits and fly across the country to compete in dog-related events. Frisbee tournaments, dog shows, you name it. Some of them breed dogs, others have written the actual book on their dog breeds.

It's a strange crowd. The first thing people bring up when I mention this is "Best In Show" and that's not a bad reference point. It's a fairly accurate portrayal of the scene. Any character you care to name from the movie, I can give you at least three examples of people I know like that. Sometimes more.

I know all these people because my life has gone down the occasional strange path and it's such an insular crowd that once you know one or two, you know twenty or thirty along with them.

But I digress.

I know a hell of a lot of dog people.

So when I get a drunken picture of a dog at three in the morning from a number I don't immediately recognize, I know instantly who it is, because I am an idiot savant at remembering dogs.

Haven't had much of an opportunity to get writing done this week, which is a damn shame because it means I'm going to have to nail myself to the desk this weekend to get through the next chapter. It's always easier heading into the weekend with a bunch of writing done.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Back In The Swing

And I've just finished a chapter. I was afraid I'd have to procrastinate another week, which would suck.

Nothing's worse than a resolution that you're too fucking stubborn to give up, but too distracted to make progress on.

You go through the entire week with the sense that you've got unfinished business. But it's still just a resolution, so you feel a bit silly about the whole affair, knowing that you should either just freaking take care of it or give it up. You get that little twitch of stress every time you put off working on it and it's layered--just a bit--with a bit of self-consciousness since you know that it's all on you and nobody besides you really gives a hoot whether or not you follow up on it.

Still.

Fun chapter. The talkie bit at the beginning was something I was a little afraid of, that it would wind up being too straightforward and rambling, or maybe even a little cutesy, but I think it did a good job of introducing the subplot and ramping up tension between Llerg and Neah.

And then I had some action to write, which didn't go as easily as I thought it would--action's usually pretty easy for me. Usually.

I'll have to go back through the chapter and iron out the wrinkles. It's a little on the short side and I could use that extra space to reinforce Llerg's voice, I think. Maybe add some more detail to the setting. There's also a bit of internal monologue early on that I don't think works quite well, just yet. It's in the ballpark of what I wanted, but it's still a little off.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Efficiency And Cosmic Rays

I've been thinking about routines and efficiency lately.

Maybe it's on my mind because of the new job and rethinking my daily schedule. Maybe it's because I bought a new Bag of Holding, a piece of luggage which actually does seem to defy the laws of physical reality. Maybe it's because a cosmic ray, while on its journey from one end of the universe to the other, randomly intersected the part of my brain which usually doesn't give a fuck about such things and blasted it temporarily into nonexistence. Who knows?

But I've been thinking about routines.

The previously-mentioned Bag of Holding does not actually defy any physical laws. It's simply a well-designed bag, with pockets everywhere you'd need pockets, even in places you didn't know you needed them until you saw a bag that had them. Then you see them and think, well, of course. They should put a magnetic clasp and a flap there because, well, duh.

A well-designed routine is like that. It's a force multiplier for time. If you have a bit of downtime and you maximize it in such a way that doesn't annoy or kill you, then it's probably worth it--it frees up time later in the day for something else, like relaxing or writing, or grooming your alpaca or something.

Case in point. Breakfast.

In earlier parts of the continuing saga of the Life of Mike, I'd either skip breakfast or half-ass it. Eat a bowl of cereal or some ghastly protein shake concoction. Or I might grab a donut or some kind of dense bagel-type constructions. The activity would essentially fill up any non-shower-related part of my morning. In those days, I'd wake up at the last possible minute before work and then just shoot in, hair still wet, still mentally foggy, still digesting said whatever-I'd-been-eating.

Looking back, it wasn't entirely optimal. If you start off the day on the run, you'll be on the run all day. Yes, I sound like a damn fortune cookie. Yes, it's also true. Start out off-balance, then you'll feel off-balance all day, at least until your brain catches up somewhere around lunch. That's why mornings suck for a lot of people.

So I make a special point these days to try to get the most out of mornings possible. Currently, I'm packing a lot of work into breakfast. I take care of it right after meditation, so usually my brain is still slightly adrift. That's okay.

I start boiling water for coffee. While that's going, I make some coffee cup eggs: splash some egg whites from a container into a coffee mug I've sprayed cooking oil in. Dash of salt. Dash of pepper. Nuke for a minute. While that's going,  I set out a plate and prepare the Chemex.

By that time the one minute is up. I take the coffee cup out, whisk the egg whites, put it back in for another two minutes.

Then I put a dash of olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, flax seeds into a bowl and make some dressing. I pile up some greens on the plate.

By that time, the water is probably about done boiling, so I bloom my coffee. The two minutes usually finish right about that time, so my eggs are done: I dump them onto the plate, chop them up so they look less like geometry homework and more like something I'd actually want to eat, sprinkle a small amount of cheese and then a few spoonfuls of salsa on top. I add the dressing to the greens and then start brewing coffee.

And then I eat. Or I eat while I'm brewing the coffee, since it takes a few minutes for everything to seep through the Chemex.

All told: about fifteen or twenty minutes to prepare and eat a solid, reasonably healthy breakfast. Minimal dishes and I finish up with a couple cups of great coffee to drink while catching up on news or writing. No muss, no fuss, no stress, few dirty dishes. Not much in the way of running around like a crazy man trying to finish it all up in time. In fact, if I were to forgo the coffee step, I'd be done preparing breakfast in exactly three minutes, according to the microwave timer.

Sometimes just putting a little thought into the process in which you do things beforehand will multiply the things you accomplish while simultaneously greatly reducing your stress levels. It's worth putting some thought into if it's something you do every day.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Conclusions

The theme for this weekend appears to be catching up on the wreckage from the week before. Did a bit of writing, but not nearly enough to qualify as "progress" (although I am very happy with what I did write). Definitely not enough to qualify as "a chapter", unless you have a very special definition of what a chapter is.

As I mentioned before, I'm going to have to chisel time out of my daily schedule for it, I think. Get up an additional fifteen minutes earlier every day, get a bit of writing done daily. Otherwise, I hit the weekend with about five thousand words to beat through and that's...not copacetic with the notion of quality writing. Not when I'm also trying to catch up on sleep and get some R&R in.

Not to mention there's just something really great about kicking off the day having written something. You walk into work with your brain already fizzing and popping. It's a good way to get your batteries topped off before you have to start interacting with other human beings, solve problems and so on.

But yeah. I can't say I'm exactly knocking this one out of the park, yet. The new job is really sapping my creative energies at the moment. After a week or two, when I've had a chance to find my feet, when writing in my free time is a creative outlet, rather than just another demand on my mental focus, that'll be different.

Still, a new job is a great time to rethink habits. You are already blowing up a billion ingrained routines and mental scripts. You have new people to work with, a new schedule to get used to. You turn a different direction when you leave for work in the morning. You might be paid on different dates, requiring different budgeting. You might have a different dress code, different daily concerns. You get the idea. If you are going to set up resolutions, you might as well do it now. After all, if you already have a thousand changes to your daily routine, there's not a whole lot of difference between that and a thousand and one changes.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Chiseling Blocks Of Time

I'm going to appropriate a phrase to sum up this week and then task it to do my evil bidding just because I can.

Regarding time management: you can do anything you want, but you can't do everything you want.

I need to give my schedule a rethink during work days.

I get up relatively early, with enough time to shower, meditate for fifteen minutes, make a small breakfast while brewing a pot of awesome coffee, eat said breakfast and then there's about a half hour space to catch up on news, maybe write something like this. Then I head off to the new job, work eight hours, go to the gym, eat supper and then hang out with friends.

It's a weirdly full schedule. I need more time to write in the morning. Do I chisel it out of my sleep? Do I send my friends packing a half hour earlier? Do I give up meditation? Do I just get better at multitasking? Work smarter, not harder? Maybe hang out with my friends while I'm sleeping.

Decisions.

The real answer is to pay attention to how I'm spending my time, get more focused so I'm wasting less time doing the things that I do. There's usually a surprisingly large amount of down time throughout the day, when I'm just grinding my gears wishing I was doing the next thing on the list instead. Not really a good way to live life, actually.

The original saying I appropriated for this blog entry: "you can do anything you want, but you can't do everything you want," was originally about money. "You can afford anything you want, but you can't afford everything you want."

Not surprising that time and money are largely interchangeable. The only difference is that you can't get time back. Once it's gone, it's gone. But it's definitely something you have to budget, just like money. Even when you just live your life, without thinking about the things you do, without any sort of intentionality, you're still budgeting your time; you're just doing it haphazardly.

Eventually, you have to ask yourself something along the lines of "is it really worth it to spend this much time every day doing something I hate or sitting in front of the television when I could be doing something a little more fulfilling?" Can I do something I like a little less so I have more time to do some I wish I could do more of?

Some people don't. Don't be like those people.

And, by the way, it's a key concept of this book, which I highly recommend reading.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

False Starts

...Okay, I'm starting up my writing resolution NEXT week. Life happened this week as it does from time to time. The key thing about sticking to goals is not to get too depressed when you fall off the horse. Or fail to get on the horse in the first place.

Is that fragment grammatical? I think it's grammatical enough.

Grammarians annoy the shit out of me, which is probably not what you'd expect to hear from someone with a Master's degree in English who writes for a hobby.

But it's true: grammar hounds are the linguistic equivalent of meter maids. They derive unholy satisfaction from minor corrections without actually contributing anything major. They gather in packs on Facebook, do linguistic drive-by shootings at work, quip smugly...but never seem to write anything worth reading themselves.

I think it's their ahistorical nature which gets to me. What the hell is grammar anyway, but the wordly equivalent of building a sidewalk where people shortcut through a park? If one or two people cut across a lawn, they're jerks. If everybody is doing it, then you lay down a new sidewalk and that becomes the official route through the park.

And so it goes with grammar. Grammar is what grammar does. If the sum total of linguistic meanderings is a vast park, then grammatical rules are the brown lines where people have trampled the lawn flat.

Two thousand years ago, English was more like German. Indistinguishable, in fact, from the old Germanic spoken at the time. We had fine words like fuck (derived from fokken, to "knock against" or "beat"). But after a few millenium, things happened. Vikings swept through, raping and pillaging, killing, forming colonies, inter-marrying with the locals. They leave behind some words. Lawyer. Midden.

Then the Normans invaded. The language got a little more french. Miracle, attack, morale. They brought new religion with them. Latin-derivatives mix in. Crapulent. Fungus. Juvenile.

Then the general chaos of the colonial period mixed in. People traveled. Settled into new lands. We got words like "aardvark" or "gumbo." The changes in language from the colonies cross-pollinated back into the homeland, adding to the carnage. A new scholarly secular class arose who took a particular delight in making new words out of old components: conjoin, for example.

Linguistic structures change. Sounds change. Preferred word order, verb tenses, all sorts of things drift over the course of a few hundred years.

There's always an uproar amongst the anal retentive when a new word is added to some dictionary. Selfie, for example. Rubbish!

But the goal of grammar is to make your writing accessible, not proper. It's there to define something, to make better writing teachable, make sure you're making the most sense to your chosen audience.

Readers have to be able to understand your shit, dawg. You have to be aware of your audience's needs and expectations. It's absolutely necessary, particularly as an educational tool. It gets several orders of magnitude harder to teach something if you can't describe it.

But people who get their panties in a wad because you split an infinitive or use a new word you've just made up annoy me. Mostly because language is a living thing, not something carved into the side of a monument.

My favorite response to people accusing me of making up shit is that it's a word because I've just used it. I mean, you understood it, right? If I call something a shitspork, my meaning is pretty clear even if it is something my spellchecker flags instantly.

It's a tool which should be used and abused. If it works better if you bend it, bend it because the natural drift of linguistic evolution is going to do that anyway.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Big Freeze

It's cold today. Saying it's cold in Michigan in January is probably one of the least unsurprising things you can write. It's like saying Jupiter is large, or the ocean is wet. Nevertheless, it's cold, the sort of frigidity that inspires locals to point out they're better off sleeping in the freezer than going outside. Just bleak, crackling, freeze-your-balls-to-your-shorts lack of molecular agitation, with no promise of anything better to look forward to until the spring thaw, which will occur sometime in the next twenty years or so.

It reminds me of my favorite moment during my recent trip to Malaysia. That moment involves black ice, which is not a phenomenon you find very often in tropical countries, at least not outside a cocktail.

Every once in a while my friend Tim, a local, would drop me off at his parents' house while we took a break from the weather and he needed to GPS coordinates for restaurants he wanted to drag me to next. During these rest breaks, I'd hang out with his dad, who is a riot. Tim hypothesizes that the reason we get along so well is that we're both completely full of shit.

Somehow we got on the subject of weather, so I told him my favorite story about black ice.

It happened a few years ago in the early parts of winter, sometime in mid-December. It was one of those years where the winter got a late start. The season was too early for there to be much more than a dusting of snow on the ground. I'd been visiting some friends in Lansing and it was late. I was cruising along at normal interstate speeds, when I noticed up ahead that traffic was slowing down.

Something in the situation raised my hackles. I couldn't put a finger on it, but I decided that I should just take my foot off the gas and coast to a slower velocity, without so much as breathing on the brakes. The pavement looked dry. It wasn't snowing. No drizzle. No wetness. Traffic wasn't heavy. Just normal road conditions.

After half a mile, I began to see cars in the ditches. First a sedan. Then a minivan after a couple hundred feet. And then every few hundred yards, I'd see another vehicle. I saw a cop car in the ditch. I saw an ambulance. There was a tow truck. Half a dozen normal vehicles. I even saw a county plow in the ditch, facing the wrong way with the lights still on. The only thing it was missing to be an AMC special were hordes of zombies. Probably too cold. Also, the zombies would have all fallen down.

And the whole time, the pavement looked bone dry.

I finished the drive home, which normally would have taken a half hour, in about two hours. Then I climbed up to my apartment and shook.

Black ice is freaky that way. It's a particular condition which forms when a wet road hits a fast cold snap. Ice forms without the chance to cloud up. I've walked on it before. Even up close, it's hard to see. Not only is it nigh invisible it's slick, even for ice.

You drive along and sometimes you lose the traction lottery and just go in the ditch. Don't pass "Go", don't collect two hundred dollars.

Reflexes won't save you. You can be the best driver in the world, a masterful drift racer, and you'll still find yourself doing several fast three sixties followed by a quick rooster tail into the median at fifty miles per hour. The only thing that prevents it is blind luck and keeping an eye on the weather. Sometimes you drive slow simply because black ice MIGHT be happening. You just don't know.

This is all just a part of living in northern latitudes. Most people who hear this story are nodding along at this point. A few of them are already thinking about correcting a few points I've just typed. And so it goes.

Now, when people from Michigan talk about ice, the conversation falls into a general pattern. I tell the story about black ice (and I have others) and by the time I get to the first car in the ditch, the people I'm telling said story to get a distant look in their eyes. They laugh at the appropriate points, but they're already thinking of their own stories to counter with. This is just something we do, sometimes in a comfortable dive bar over a pitcher of beer after having driven over black ice to get there.

Folks from up north can happily pass several drunken hours trading bad road stories. It's just what we do.

So, I was sitting in this nice one-story house in a tropical country, telling my story to Tim's dad, falling into the usual patterns, making the usual jokes.

At some point, I looked up and, instead of the usual "I have a better one" look, I saw an expression of complete horror. Literally, mouth hanging open.

Tim's dad is into fast cars. He used to race them. He still drives so aggressively that most of the people who ride with him get car sick, even the ones who pride themselves on iron stomachs and daredevil ways. He lives in a country where the temperature hovers around 85-90 degrees, with a crushing humidity and a regularity to the precipitation that borders on time-piece accuracy. About the only variation in the weather falls into the categories of wet or dry season or comes with the occasional monsoon.

The idea that there's a weather condition that levels the playing field so completely and without anything in the way of warning, where you can, through no fault of your own, be completely betrayed by the laws of physics, was horrifying to him. It was like finding out that there are, in some parts of the world, predatory animals who disguise themselves as public toilets.

One of the most common questions I got from the locals while visiting Malaysia was why in the hell Americans live in a place where the weather regularly tries to kill us? If it's not black ice, it's blizzards, flooding, earthquakes or tornadoes that randomly wipe out towns. They find it baffling that we'd be confronted by something like this, shrug and then rebuild.

I'd like to say it's the typical American's stubbornness or maybe our innate optimism or that the worst weather always happens on the best farmland, but I suspect it's more that we like stories. That and maybe we're too lazy to move. One or the other.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Picking Up Where I Left Off

"'In writing a novel, when in doubt, have two guys come through the door with guns."
--Raymond Chandler

That's one of my favorite writing quotes of all time. Well, up there. I'm not actually the sort of person who does a great job remembering quotes. I forget things I've said myself all the time. Every once in a while, I'll have this conversation with friends where they'll say something funny or clever and I'll laugh the pure from-the-gut laugh of an idiot child surprised by a funny face.

They'll give me a strange pitying look and then tell me I'm the one who originally said that. About half the time they'll say that's not the first time they've reminded me of this fact. Words arranged in clever order? They tend to slip from my mind in favor of awesomely useful information like the distance from the earth to the sun measured in fathoms, or the scientific name for the effect that makes the sky blue, or maybe an interesting anecdote about how Romans used to brush their teeth with Portuguese urine.

Quotes don't stick with me. I need Google to quote movies, even ones I've seen a dozen times. Even the ones that most people think of as highly quotable. I just don't remember that stuff.

So, yeah. Not the kind of guy who remembers quotes.  My brain just doesn't work that way.

But this one stuck. I had to Google it to get the exact wording, though.

It's a great piece of advice. There's nothing quite like a good cliffhanger or bit of sudden jarring action to make you sound like you know where the plot's going.

I mean, J. J. Abrams made a career out of it: I think I made it through the first two seasons of Alias before it ever occurred to me that they were making all that shit up as they went along. The constant cliffhangers kept me going.

Look, people with guns moving purposefully! There's another plot point coming! Obviously, things must be getting serious.

I use it all the time when I'm GM'ing roleplaying games. In the context of RPG's it serves several purposes:

1. It keeps the excitement level high. Players have to react to the threat, figure out what to do, minimize the risk of death and all that. There's no time to plan. Dice are going to get rolled, hit points will get depleted. A death trap has been sprung. Time to act.

2. It makes you look like you have a plan. Can't stress this enough. If people are doing something to the party, there has to be a reason for it, right? Right?! It's all part of your master plan. These gunmen have to be coming from SOMEWHERE. Well, not so much, but...

3. It gives you breathing space. While the party is figuring out the threat, you can stop and think about the bigger picture. It doesn't take that much mental space to resolve fights/crisis situations. You can also eavesdrop on what the players are saying while things are playing out and use that to feed the next part of the plot. It's just one of the tools I use to shake down the players for plot/adventure ideas without just coming out and asking them for feedback.

Basically, I'm a lazy GM.

On the writing side of things, it's still a great bit of advice.

If you can't think of anything to do or you can't make up your mind between several possibilities on where to go next, it's a good sign things are stagnating. For me, these moments usually happen in the middle of a chapter where the characters are just standing in a room, blinking at each other. Everything's spun down to a sort of dull status quo.

Sometimes these chapters just happen. Maybe it's important that a couple of characters meet, trade threats/information/heartfelt assurances of something or other. Maybe they have to do something to make the rest of the book's plot hang together.

But you finish writing the scene and realize that you've got maybe half a chapter filled. Not enough to call a full chapter, but too much useful stuff to just trim or fold into another, more interesting part of the book.

Or maybe the plot just needs a bit of downtime to let things settle out. Sometimes that downtime is a little hard to parse, though, and you need a good exit point.

Cue the gunmen.

It doesn't even really have to be gunmen. It could be an angry elephant. A random phone call from a relative who's in danger. Could be a thunderstorm or a sudden panic attack, maybe the main character's kid winds up in the emergency room because he tried to ingest a rock.

At the very least it gives you a built in excuse to add action and tension, enough of it to wrap the dead stump of a chapter and get you into the next, hopefully more interesting one.

I suppose it could come across as arbitrary and formulaic if you overuse it, but my experience has been that I tend to justify shocking reversals as much as possible. It acts as a creativity aid sometimes. Who are these guys? Who do they work for? Why are they here now?

The chapter I'm working on this week is one where this advice applies.

There's a subplot I need to address, but it's one that only requires 1500 words to deal with, tops. The way it's arranged, it needs to happen at the beginning of a chapter and it requires a fair amount of dialogue. The next chapter is also a talky one, so I can't just bang the two together. Banging two talk-heavy scenes together back to back is a one-way ticket to boredomville unless you're much better at writing dialogue than I am.

So I'm having gunmen burst into the room, so to speak. One half of the scene resolves in the current chapter. Then it shakes out in the beginning of the next. That's how beats naturally work. Heavy-soft. High-low. Talk-action-talk. It makes for more variety and, most importantly, keeps your readers awake.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Resolutions And Other Ill-advised Activity

...and I'm back from the final leg of Operation: Get The Fuck Out Of Kalamazoo.

This time, it was a glamorous Christmas weekend in that vacation wonderland known as the Bronx, a place composed mostly of brick, dog poop and attitude.

Great place. Had fun. New York is a little too large for my brain to cope with at times. It's the sort of place where coming up with things to do is not the problem: the big problem is narrowing it all down. Left to my own devices, I would mostly likely explore the place by simply picking a direction and then winging it.

Coming back, though, exposes a problem: my writing has definitely gone off the rails. Sure, it was on purpose, but sitting down at the keyboard again, I find myself having the same feeling you get when you return to the gym after two weeks off, albeit with less nausea, puking and public humiliation.

Since it's the first day of the year, I guess I'll do the in thing and make a resolution.

New Year's resolutions are terrible ideas, though. If you're the sort of person who feels driven to making New Year's resolutions, you're probably not the sort of person who's going to follow through with them.

A good resolution is comprised of several discrete components.

It has to be reasonable and achievable. Becoming swimsuit model hot is not a good goal, unless you're only twenty pounds out. Losing twenty or thirty pounds is reasonable. Hard, but reasonable. Saving a set amount of money before a certain date. Running a half-marathon even if you've never run before. Going to Ecuador for a week when you have a decent job. All to the good.

It has to be a measurable goal. Becoming a nicer person is not measurable. Doing charity work and sticking with it is measurable. Giving up smoking is measurable (but hard!). Losing twenty pounds and running a half marathon is measurable. "Getting back in shape" is not.

It has to have milestones built in. If you can't measure it, you can't tell if you're going off course. Because if you do drift off course, you could go WAY off course before you even realize it and then get depressed and give up.

More importantly, a lot of the more interesting goals have inherent components. If you want to backpack Mt. McKinley by the end of the year, there's some things you'll have to do first. Acquire climbing gear. Get plane tickets. Take a class. Set up an exercise program. Notify next of kin.

Milestones are important because they break a big mysterious thing into small manageable parts.

And the final component of a successful resolution: public accountability. This is where most NYE resolutions fall down. Everybody does them. There's no downside to failure. If you do fail, everybody expects it. The failed NYE resolution is one of the biggest running jokes of the season. On top of that, everybody's usually drunk when they make them, so they set unreasonable assumptions for what they want to do. NYE resolutions tend to be vague, poorly thought and overly ambitious and nobody really expects you to follow through with them anyway.

Screw that noise.

So I'm doing one anyway.

I've had a lot of success with these things. The 100 day 500 per day thing was doing fine, but the small chunks every day approach was starting to make my teeth itch. It was getting very hard to stay focused on the outline.

Instead I'm going to do one chapter per week until the book is done. It's achievable, it's measurable, and it has some implied down time built in so I have a chance to breathe a bit. It's not a big book either, so it should only take me ten or eleven weeks at that rate to finish it off.