Tagged: writing

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015: writer burn out

This year for NaNoWriMo I decided to write in Swedish, my first language. I haven’t used it in fiction for well over a decade, and while it worked… sort of… it also nearly broke me. The rhythm in the both languages are very different, and what sounds good in English often sounds clunky in Swedish, and the other way around. I still wanted to try. Afterwards I went head first into a I CAN’T WRITE EVERYTHING IS TERRIBLE I CAN’T BE A WRITER, ETC, every writer knows this one very well, I’m sure. I’ve had writing a blog post on my to do list for about three weeks. That’s how much I didn’t want to write anymore

But. I am a writer. I think in stories. Right now I work going through old records and digitalising them to be put in geneology databases. I’m focusing on something called soldattorp — crofts (I think) for military. In the 1600s to 1800s every soldier was assigned one, a small cottage, that they lived in while on active duty. We’re going through every inhabitant and finding as much info as we can, though I’m sticking to the 1800s, because reading old handwriting from the 1600s is beyond me. At least at this point.

This is some of the pretty handwriting from the early 1800s. Most of it isn’t this legible, but this I photographed because it’s basically art. From the left that’s date of birth and baptism, name (underlined), parents identity, and if they died young, their name is struck out and there’s a date on the right with their date of death — död is Swedish for death.

We look in old records, mostly books that priests kept back in the day, noting down births, deaths, marriages, people moving away, military service, etc. Looking through these books we note things like:

  • Birth date, location of birth.
  • Death date, location of death, cause of death when possible.
  • Parents, their maiden and married names.
  • If married, their wife’s name, maiden name, birth and death date, cause of death.
  • Children, birth dates.

And so forth.

This is death records, annoyingly cropped to remove some identifying stuff. First column is name, location, name of spouse. Second is date of death. Third marks whether they’re married, unmarried, widowed, etc. Fourth is just a page number. Fifth is cause of death. Most of these are tuberculosis (lungsot), but pneumonia, heart failure, old age, etc are common too.

The other day I found a man, who was conscripted into the military at age 10, as a musician. We went through so many records trying to figure out if there was an error date wise — who even joins the military at ten years old, even in the mid 1800s? — but eventually found proof that it was indeed true. I kept digging, found his parents names, that he was unmarried, and at last, in a book like the one above, that he committed suicide, at age 31.

I spent probably two hours on him (note: I’m not actually educated in this stuff, it’s part of a program to activate disabled people, and I’m learning as I go so I’ll get faster I’m sure), and as I did it I slowly found myself wondering how a story about him would go. I probably won’t write it, because that’s not really my genre, but this guy’s fate somehow made me want to write again. I haven’t yet, because I’m busy with Christmas prep and trying to give my brain a break, but the feeling of it returning, slowly, over a week or more, is quite something.

I’m not entirely sure how or when I’ll start writing again, but a week ago the answer was NEVER IN A MILLION YEARS (I love a bit of dramatics tbh), so this is nice. I’m not even sure what the point of this post even is, other than that writing a few words seemed like a good place to start, and to note that writer burnout is very real, and I’m grateful that I’m starting to recover.

(As an aside, if you think you have this problem, read this or this for some pointers, I found these three posts helpful, particularly the first two.)

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007: NaNoWriMo

It’s that time of year again! I don’t know about you but I’m excited. Super excited. The only years, after 2005, that I haven’t done NaNoWriMo was 2007 and 2016. This year I’m extra ready because of my break last year (I had to, it had kind of become a chore, and I didn’t want to burn out in the middle of editing a thing), and I spent yesterday redoing the spreadsheet that has been kicking around for yearsssss now. I think I’ve used it since at least 2010 myself, but there’s just so much stuff, so I simplified it a bit, and then I simplified the simplified version further, and now I have two spreadsheets I want to share… if anyone finds this blog post. That last part remains to be seen.

All credit to the original creator, whose spreadsheet you can find here, if you don’t get distracted by having too much data in front of you. Spreadsheets are the best, and can tell time! It’s amazing.

These two are mine:

nanosmall
The super simple one! Click on the image for a closer look at it or download it here. Just make a copy and start editing it!

nanobig
The somewhat more complicated one. It has a pie chart and everything, and I like it. Click on the image for a closer view, or download it here. Again, make a copy and get started.

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003: Chaos brain meets #bulletjournaling

I resisted at first. I didn’t get it. I didn’t want to do the bandwagon thing. (I’m that girl, who refused to read Harry Potter until Goblet of Fire was out, because everyone loved it and I SURE AS HELL WOULDN’T. Then I needed a book for a plane ride and here we are.) I have to admit, though, that I’m a mess without one. I get nothing done. I forget birthdays. I’m unsure what day it is. Etc.

I fall off the wagon a lot. But when I do use it regularly I feel so much better.

21689260_122078798453653_6999316754123980800_nI started with squiggles to minimise the use of a ruler. Sadly the monthly spread and habit tracker kind of requires it.

21690039_742569189266665_1473875739097956352_nMore squiggles. Also: ‘Do this shit’ section is highly recommended. If I only have it at the monthly spread I’m not suitably shamed to do it.

21911286_1538885259513397_1444235143291076608_nI do the calendar method for my writing too. One sticker is 3 x 20 mins. Two stickers is 6 x 20 mins. I get a 5 min break after the two first blocks and a 15 min break after the third. Rinse and repeat. (And yes, stickers are as motivational now as in first grade. Truly.)

21910020_2030749373877897_1789978309812027392_nWriting is also easier with a graph to motivate me. Filling things out fills me with joy, I can’t help it. The dashed lines are where I’m supposed to be on Sunday of that week. This week I’m still high on LET’S DO THIS, I don’t expect the future weeks to be that much ahead of the plan all the way to NaNoWriMo, which is as far as this specific graph will take me.