Monthly Forecast #1 — February, 2022

February 1st, 2022

I think it’s safe to say that I managed to start 2022 on a bit of a high note. January went quite well: it turned out to be one of the more productive months I’ve had in terms of writing, not to mention starting to record the podcast and laying the groundwork for a number of other projects. I wrapped up the summer before third year for Perversion of Purity, I began the final arc of Harry’s first school year in Conjoining of Paragons, and I wrote two of the most important chapters in the story so far for Ashes of Chaos. 

I think January’s success can be chalked up to a few things: 

The break during the holidays was massive for me and really helped kickstart 2022. By the time I started writing again, I felt rejuvenated and more motivated than I had been in a long time. I don’t often suffer from a lack of motivation, but my mental health tends to plummet near the end of each year, so that always makes things interesting. November, in particular, is usually a miserable month for me. My brain chemistry just tends to be extremely sporadic in November and it leads to a lot of highs and lows. I’m sure patrons noticed a slight dip in output that month and for that, I can only apologize. The good news is that January tends to be when I snap out of that, which is another reason why it tends to be such a productive month for me. No one is more bothered by the times I’m not productive than I am. I tend to take making up that lost time as a challenge, which usually leads to a very busy but very fulfilling January. Patrons from last year may recall that all of Perversion of Purity book one was released late February —  I did most of the writing for that in January and gave my betas a few weeks to edit it.

I also think an underrated asset to me has been the implementation of more reading time, something I mostly abandoned in 2021. My schedule was very tight throughout most of the year, and I have an unfortunate habit of feeling guilty any time I read. Once, this only extended to fanfiction, but last year, it swelled to encompass novels as well. Any time I would sit down and dedicate meaningful time to reading, it felt as though I was lazy and should be writing. I decided during the holidays that this mental block was really bothering me and would occasionally make me legitimately unhappy. One of my New Year’s resolutions was to read much more in 2022 than I have the past couple of years and to simply let myself enjoy it. During the month of January, I dove into Sanderson’s works and read both The Stormlight Archive and two thirds of Mistborn, Era 1, plus my annual Lord of the Rings reread. That’s about two and a half million words total, and though there is no way I will keep that kind of pace up all year, it has done wonders for both my mood and my motivation to write. 

Out of all the positive things I’ve done to start the year, I think the most important thing for me has been establishing a consistent schedule. I think one of the biggest keys of having a schedule is to not beat yourself up when it doesn’t always work out as planned, so mine is far from the most rigid one out there. It does dictate the rough times each day during which I will write, though, as well as meals, workouts, podcasts, and anything else I have going on at the time. This has been something I’ve wanted to implement for a few months, but again, the end of each year tends to be a rough period for me, so I thought January would be a good time to establish a schedule. I have shared the results already and I think they speak for themselves. 

With that schedule came the implementation of other things I have been delaying for some time now. One of the most relevant for you all reading this post is that I am going to make these updates a regular thing. You will get what I am calling a ‘Monthly Forecast’ at the beginning of each month. It will have a brief summary of how the past one went in relation to my goals, and then it will outline what I hope to get done in the month to come, as well as give some general updates and, in some cases, provide advanced warnings for things in my life that might make the implementation of my plans a little bit more difficult. These will be my more detailed updates and they will basically contain anything of relevance, but they’re not the only form of update I’ll be giving. 

Aside from trying to be much more diligent with providing updates on Twitter this year, I will be starting a weekly ‘Writing Update’ series on YouTube. This series of videos is pretty self-explanatory. There are three large differences between the video-form ‘Writing Updates’ and these written ‘Monthly Forecasts’. The first is that these are going to be a lot more detailed. The Writing Updates on YouTube are hopefully all going to remain under five minutes long. On the flip side, whilst these will be posted only once per month — hopefully on the first day of each, but I’m not going to make promises on that front yet — the Writing Updates on YouTube are going to be posted every Monday. They will only briefly go over what I’m writing that week and maybe provide a little bit of commentary on how the previous one went, but again, my goal will be to wrap each of them up in five minutes. These Monthly Forecasts are going to be written to give you a detailed outlook of the month to come, whereas those Writing Updates are just going to be letting people know what I’m up to that week and to provide progress updates on each of my ongoing projects. Those will focus mostly on the writing for that week — these will touch on everything.

I mentioned the podcast a bit earlier. That has gone through some substantial changes in terms of both concept and formatting. I’m not quite ready to give details on that yet, but I hope it will be a big part of the Monthly Forecast for the month of March. Fingers crossed, at least; February is going to be a hectic month for me as I will explain later in this blog. Just know that there is a ton of work being done behind the scenes to make the podcast the best it can possibly be. I would rather take my time and miss a self-imposed deadline than provide any of you with a subpar product, and that is the philosophy I am taking in regards to that project.

In similar-ish news, I really want to boost audience engagement going forward. I used to chat with all of you much more often, but 2021 really broke that habit of mine because of the crazy workload that I maintained. Now that I am less burdened and dictating my own tasks, I am going to start dedicating more time to that again. Part of that is going to be me trying to be more active on the Discord server than I have been the past couple of months. That might not be super noticeable to some of you, but other things will be more easily noticed. 

Patrons will see the biggest change, as I plan to be on a public voice call at least once per week during one of the chapter releases. I think that’s a good way for me to chat with the lovely people who support me and to give them time to ask any questions they might have, or to just relax and enjoy speaking together if that’s something they’re interested in. This is something I did often in early 2021, but due to my athletic obligations, the routine stopped and has yet to resume. These calls can be a lot of fun and I greatly encourage you all to join if you can. I also plan to do the same on Discord, though that will only happen once per month. I will probably run a poll each month asking which story you would like that voice call to be focused on and then choose a date based on the results of that poll. Doing more regular movie night-type things on the server is also being discussed; and I am personally considering doing a live Q&A once per month on the Discord server as well. During that time, all of you could ask me any story-related questions, or any other queries you might have. I think that could work well, and Q&As have always been very well-received in the past, but let me know via the comments of this post, on social media, or on the Discord server whether or not that interests you. 

I said a little bit earlier that, sometimes, these would be to provide updates about things that might make writing difficult. Well, that was timely on my part, because February is going to be interesting. 

I will be travelling for the latter half of February and will be gone for exactly two weeks. That’s the plan right now, anyway. There is a chance that trip does not happen due to the pandemic, and there is also a chance it gets extended, but I think the latter to be unlikely. Having travelled often in 2021, I can reliably say my track record when it comes to writing on the road isn’t great. 

There are going to be a few key differences this time that are hopefully going to make things a whole lot easier. The first of them is that, last year, I was travelling as a professional athlete and usually in competition mode whilst doing so. That headspace is not overly conducive to writing and it will not be the frame of mind I’m in this time around. The second factor was that during my travels in 2021, I was injured and parts of those trips heightened the stress on my body, meaning I had to spend more time holding my body together. The third factor is that, when travelling as a professional athlete, one’s schedule tends to be quite full. Whilst I do have some obligations to take care of on this trip, they pale in comparison to what I’m used to whilst travelling, so I do hope to get some writing done.

This trip is also mostly a vacation for me since I have never really had one before, so I don’t plan to write things on a deadline. It’s just stress I don’t really want at that time because this is the first time I’m really just exploring the world for me. What that means is that I will not be writing fanfiction on this trip. My plan is not to, anyway, but I’ll touch on that a bit more soon. As of now, my plan is to take those two weeks ‘off’, but to work on my novel whenever the urge strikes me. Even if I’m not working consistently on it, I know myself well enough to guess I’ll spend a decent chunk of time writing on this trip since it is a passion of mine, and I think two weeks of just working on that novel are going to be HUGE for me. Especially since January was spent revising a specific character’s chapters, as I have refined his personality quite a bit since those early drafts. Between that and diving even deeper into lore and future plans, no actual prose got written in January, but that was always the plan. My hope is that during this trip, I can make up for it — when not enjoying myself in more favourable weather, that is.

Another reason I haven’t gotten any actual prose written for that novel in January is because I have planned ahead. All of my lovely patrons make up the reason I can call this a career, so the idea of leaving them without content for two weeks is not one I am fond of. That’s why I have spent the latter half of January working extremely hard to ensure I get far enough ahead to backlog some chapters for them whilst simultaneously posting each week, that way they will have consistent content even whilst I am gone. My policy is usually to post chapters for patrons the moment they’re written, but I suspect they would rather have several chapters a week including when I’m gone than get five a week for a few weeks, then nothing for at least two. I imagine that delay would be unwelcome and I feel like such a large break would hinder the enjoyment for readers

Needless to say I have spent a lot of very late nights writing these past two weeks and that there will be many more before I depart. My patrons mean the world to me and I will not selfishly leave them hanging whilst I am off enjoying myself. The backlogging is also somewhat of an experiment. If it goes well, I may do something similar later this year, that way I can spend November — National Novel Writing Month — working exclusively on that project, but still posting each week for patrons. Again, that is extremely tentative — it is much too far away for now and, as said, my mental health is usually a bit spotty in November — but this may be a good proof of concept for that. 

One good thing about backlogging and travelling is that I have a pretty good idea of what patrons can expect this month. I have locked myself in for four AoC chapters per month going forward. I tend to spend each week of a month dedicating myself to a specific story, and lately, two of them have been AoC-focused. I can usually write 3 chapters a week for the other stories, then spend the weekend focusing on my novel, but that usually isn’t the case for AoC. Those chapters tend to take a lot longer even when they aren’t long, and they are, by far, the most fatiguing chapters to write. That being said, I think four each month is a good number. It keeps patrons just as far ahead as they have been, means the story progresses quite a bit each week, but doesn’t make me wish for death after trying to push the envelope a bit too fiercely — though I will say, beginning the process of backlogging two extra AoC chapters has been more stressful than I anticipated. 

Those four AoC chapters will take patrons through a VITAL moment in year 3 and up near the winter holidays, though they will halt a little bit before those begin. I am quite relieved to see this portion of the outline coming up because it’s where the pacing always speeds up in my stories and, for a while, it’s felt like year 3 would never end. I am finally beginning to see the final stretch even if it is still a ways away, which is a relief for me. The word count is on pace to be much lower than year 2’s, but the shorter chapters lead to a higher number of chapters, which makes it all feel longer to me than it really is. Regardless, it will be nice to cross another four chapters and a couple of major events in my outline off the board in February.

Conjoining of Paragons will be what patrons can expect during February’s first week. They will receive at least two of those then, with the possibility of a third, but I wouldn’t bet on it. I have promised patrons at least two chapters per week in 2022. That number is usually 3, but the backlogging process is a long one and last week was an AoC week, so getting an extra one of those chapters done has leaked into this week a little bit, though that chapter will be written by the time this blog goes live. I am definitely going to backlog one CoP chapter before flying out on the 14th, so patrons can expect at least one more of those later in the month. 

Perversion of Purity is a little bit more up in the air in terms of uploads this month. My goal is to get two of those chapters posted during the first week I’m travelling, with AoC making up the bulk of week two. The part about this that is going to be interesting is that I am spending the two weeks before leaving writing primarily Conjoining of Paragons and Ashes of Chaos. I don’t think finding time to backlog those additional chapters is going to be problematic, but that’s part of the reason why I am backlogging an extra CoP chapter, just to be safe. Perversion of Purity is actually the one I’m most excited for right now based on where that story is and where it’s going, so I really do hope to get two of those out this month and progress that story a little bit further. 

I’ll keep the Fabric of Fate section short because there isn’t much to discuss, I’m afraid. My goal was to really begin working this into my schedule, but my travel plans and backlogging process has pretty much shelved this one for the month of February. Without getting into detail, the travel — whilst welcome — wasn’t actually planned and was somewhat coincidental, elsewise this would all be much less hasty. Ideally, I will get to write a FoF chapter or two this month. The problem is that, with the backlogging of my more popular stories, I really don’t have time in my week to slot this in a given place. If I find that I do have time to write this story, I will definitely do that, as it is entering a stage I am very excited to write. I hope to get a few FoF chapters done in March, regardless, and once AoC year 3 wraps up — likely in the early summer — this will be worked into my set rotation and written at a much swifter pace. 

It is times like this when I envy Brandon Sanderson’s way of focusing on a single story for months on end even when he has so many ongoing. The good thing about my way is that it provides constant changes, which always keeps things fresh and interesting. It just seems a whole lot more daunting in the moment when your plans get changed thanks to the insertion of sudden variables. 

That’s about all I have to say for the month to come. Expect a poll on the Discord server asking which story’s chapter drop you would most like me on a call for, as well as weekly Writing Updates on YouTube and more podcast details hopefully coming next month. It is my hope the latter will make up a large portion of Monthly Forecast #2.

I hope everyone is doing well and that those back at school have resettled themselves. Stay safe during the month to come and I hope 2022 continues treating you all well.

Cheers,

Ace

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