One of the worse habits I have is not talking about my problems until they reach critical mass. It's a habit I somehow acquired when I was young, then honed throughout an adulthood where I spent a lot of time quietly swallowing frustration in my personal life in order to maintain peace. Sometimes my more helpful habit of keeping a positive outlook and trying to radiate confidence (writing and sharing that writing takes a lot of confidence) interacts with this in a negative way, making me even less likely to talk about problems that have to do with writing.
The three workday writing cycle thing I've been trying for the last few chapters? It isn't working. My thinking when I started it was that three days would be enough because it would average out to the same number of days I had with the four day cycle, accounting for the weekends... but when the four day cycle really worked was when I was in Nebraska and didn't have anything to do on the weekends, so I just worked through them. Turning it into a three-day cycle basically makes every chapter come out hurried and harried.
It's kind of obvious in retrospect. As much as the four day cycle had worked and worked great with my life in Nebraska (where I had no life), doing it in Maryland inevitably resulted in wheel-spinning and frustration. And "3 days, no weekends" just gives me that kind of pace, all the time.
I know I've only been doing it for a few chapters, but it has been a stressful and frustrating couple of weeks. Two work days out of three are very high pressure. Writing being brain work, being stressed out about it makes it harder, which compounds the time crunch. This time around I tried to fix it by spending less time thinking about the chapter on day 1 and more time writing, to spread out the labor... but stealing writing time from development time doesn't improve the writing.
So last night I was looking at another late night (which this change was supposed to help prevent) and another chapter that even if I had finished yesterday I wouldn't have been happy with. And I've barely accomplished anything else this week, either. And I made a decision.
I feel mixed about this decision. I wasn't mixed about the three day cycle idea when I launched it... I felt entirely pleased about it. But it has the drawback of not really working. The sailing for the first chapter was deceptively smooth, but I'd already tried writing that chapter once and so it had the benefit of a longer development time. I haven't been thrilled about any chapter I've written since then, though.
Every time I shuffle the schedule around, I remind myself that quality should be the top priority and then consistency, with speed coming in third... but I still feel this pressure to try for speed, because it worked before (when I was younger, had more energy, and lower standards, I remind myself), and because my model for this was webcomics that update 3 or 5 times a week... but as much as MU is like a webcomic, it's not a comic. If only four panels' worth of stuff happened each time, I could update every day. It would take a huge amount of comic updates to cover the events of a single chapter.
But still the pressure remains. In the years leading up to this move, I'd entertained the fantasy that the changes it would bring to my life would let me recapture the frenetic speed of writing and posting I'd maintained when I started... but I think that really is a fantasy, and one I need to let go of. I wasn't "maintaining" anything, I was burning myself out, and now I'm that much older and I honestly think I used something of myself up back in those days.
So here's where I am... three things are undeniably true.
One is that the best quality and consistency of chapters I've written were under the four day plan, during times when each chapter had a full four days (meaning, when I didn't have a life that came with weekends). Two is that quality is (or should be) my top priority, followed by consistency of schedule, followed by frequency of updates. Three is that I need my evenings and weekends. I moved here to be with my family, not to work in an office adjacent to them.
The logical answer... the only answer... is to go back to the four day process, but four week days, not four calendar days.
This is going to mean updates will come at most about once a week... maybe once a week period, in order to build in padding and make the update fall on the same day every week. But it will also mean they will be better quality on average, as well as longer on average, and the overarching story will be more coherent.
So I'm taking another day to finish the chapter I'm working on (bringing it up to four days total), and then next week... well, I'm not sure. I'll either say forget the calendar and go to an every four week days schedule, or make it once a week. I think I'll start with every four work days and see how people like the update day jumping around... in terms of updates per week, it will be several weeks before there would be a difference.
I was very happy with the four day schedule, during the times that I actually had four days per chapter. I was happy with my work both in the sense that I liked working and I liked what the work produced. I only abandoned it because I was spending as much time in Maryland (where it didn't make sense) as I was in Nebraska.
I'll be making a more concise, less thought-process-y post about this for the MU blog later after the chapter goes up, but I wanted to work my way through this on my personal blog first.This entry automatically cross-posted from http://alexandraerin.dreamwidth.org/518684.html. Comment hither or thither. Void where yon.