April 2024 Update

There are a couple of very important things that have dawned on me over the past month, or almost since the start of the year. These are having a huge impact on how I am working at the moment and how I am proceeding with my plans for the rest of this year.

The first important thing that I put in place was to take a week’s break. On Friday evening, March 22, I stopped making my writing the main focus of my life and did not pick it up again until Monday morning, April 1.

Because it is not a marathon, it is a safari

I wish I could say that I completely separated myself from writing and took a proper physical and mental break, but that did not happen. But I did take a break from the constant worry about doing enough every day to move the boulder up the mountain.

Because my writing and other creative projects have no clear ending in sight, it began to feel like a never-ending process of just getting on with it without knowing if I was making any progress or not.

The reasons why I cannot predict completion times for my projects are twofold:

  1. I do not have sufficient experience in the late stages of a writing process, especially finishing a novel. And on that a side note, why is there so much information available on coming up with ideas and planning novels and so little on getting to finish them?
  2. And, I have created multiple projects that each need almost their own unique process to make any progress on them.

What I did not take a break from was a 30-day challenge. I set myself to spend one writing session on moving one specific novel forward by writing first draft scenes in sequential order. A writing session for me in this case means a 25-minute timed writing sprint that I measure with a number of specific playlists.

  • …Of Silence, Sonata Arctica
  • Somewhere Only We Know, Lily Allen
  • Morning Has Broken, Cat Stevens
  • As Jy My Kon Volg, Koos du Plessis
  • Let Her Go, Passenger
  • Papa, Stef Bos
  • Bonfire Heart, James Blunt
  • Skielik Is Jy Vry, Mathys Roets

The book I am edging forward with is the novel I intended to finish in the first quarter of 2024. Obviously, I did not get it finished; I merely got it to a place where I do not know how long it will take me to get it finished.

This novel, The King is Dead, is the first half of duology and my first draft of it sits at this moment at 36,444 words. During my break, I took a moment to look at the second planned novel, Long Live the King, and found I only have an idea and nothing else so far. My outline for the second will slowly develop as I continue to complete the first draft of novel one.

What I did while I took a break

But back to my break.

The first thing I wanted to do was clean up my writing space. Since I left teaching permanently at the end of March 2022, I have initiated and explored a number of creative projects and approaches. Each of these has left some detritus and footprints that walk all over my psyche and my workspace.

A currently very tidy workspace

Since the start of this year, I have found my focus and continued working on that, but I have had constant reminders in my periphery of everything else I have tried. I will dedicate a post later to how my working space is set up at the moment.

The second thing I wanted to push for was rebuilding picnic benches. I do volunteer work as an ad hoc handyman for the tutor center my sons attend. Their outside benches have been ravaged by the weather, and I am salvaging the wood that is still useful and building them outside tables and benches from what remains. I needed a day of cutting to get the project properly under way. I finished the first bench yesterday and will be starting on a table later today. Again, I will do a complete post just on that soon.

My third emphasis for my break was to set myself up to restart my side hustle. It should not be a surprise that my writing does not make for much of an income at the moment. I started as an e-hailing driver at the end of last year. But in January, my phone was stolen, and I had to use an older replacement phone. By March, however, this phone was failing me; it did not charge anymore and responded so slowly to hails that my driver score took a dip every time I turned on the e-hailing app. I had to make plans to replace it, and after the phoning a friend option did not work, I had to make a plan to get a new phone.

I went through this process during my break, and trust me, if you are moving from an iPhone to an Android, setting up a phone can take a whole day.

I, however, took a break from e-hailing for the week because it is a constant pressure that I normally cannot escape from.

At the end of my break, I had gained the clarity to plan how I would proceed with my writing for the moment and into the remainder of the year. My first fixed decision is to work in blocks of eight weeks at a time and then to take a week’s break. That would give me four blocks of focused work for the remainder of this year, excluding December. It will also give me four breaks of a week each where I can step away from the pressure and reset my compass.

Plans for April and onwards

What are my plans for the next eight weeks?

Let’s do them back to front:

Firstly, I plan to do a proper blog post once a week. I want to create a landing place where my future readers can come and find out more about me as a writer and as a person. I do not intend to write a writing blog, though I will talk about writing. I want to create a place to connect with readers without feeling like I have to be marketing or climbing on some Social Media treadmill.

Secondly, I want to send out my first newsletter. Again, I have no current subscribers, so that will seem like an exercise in futility, but it isn’t. I want to get into the habit of reaching out, and I want to have something that will give future subscribers an idea of what they are signing up for. To see what I am planning, please sign up. I will only send out a newsletter once every nine weeks (or less).

Thirdly, I want to rebuild my platform. That means getting the parts of the website that I have not rebuilt up, as well as making sure that my info on all sites where I appear is correct and up-to-date. These four will take care of my marketing efforts over the next eight weeks, and anything more I do will be a bonus.

Fourthly, and now on the writing side, I want to do a proper edit of every short story I have published so far. I have already started with the last one I published, In Good Stead, and will be working backwards. Included in this proper revision is republishing the stories with new covers. I have finally decided to create my own cover illustrations from scratch, and I will use this revision process to develop the design aesthetic and process.

Fifthly, I will be pushing on with the first draft of The King is Dead and making notes for the outline of Long Live the King. I want to get these two novels right and hope to publish them together or shortly after each other. But as I explained before, I cannot at the moment predict when I will reach that finish point.

Sixthly, and this is the main focus, I will be writing the first novel in a whole series I am planning. I know planning a whole series is not a good idea if you struggle to finish even one novel, but as I have chosen my writing focus, I kind of have no option but to make the attempt. So far, I have planned and outlined the first half of the novel, and I intend to start drafting on scene one later today. With it as my primary focus, I foresee that I can complete the novel in eight weeks.

Lastly, I have 39 writing projects composting in a folder. This does not include a number of short story compilations I have in mind. This I will dip in and out of when I have extra energy or need a break from current pressures.

In conclusion

This then is my update for April 2024. To see how much of what I plan I achieve and to be notified when anything gets to be done and published, please sign up for my newsletter. I promise it will be easy to unsubscribe if I do not deliver something entertaining.

I.M. Gerhi is working on a plan to assassinate a king as well as a looking for an idea on how to survive a toxic atmosphere in a pocket universe.