Goals, and Illness

This fortnight, my goals were disrupted by a nasty fever. It was some kind of virus — I’m not sure exactly what, but whatever it was, it wasn’t fun. Despite, or in some cases because of this, I have:

  • Slept at least 7.2 hours a night, not counting three nights I spent too sick (and sleeping too intermittently) to track it. As I recover I’ve made a point of getting 8 hours sleep, and waking up like that was was so much nicer I’ve decided to increase the goal to 8 hours going forward.
  • Made a handful of things:
    • A couple of poems
    • One day’s worth of D&D prep
    • A random table of ideas for my next D&D campaign (a few years away yet!)
    • A discovery of a Cosmere easter egg (look for Isaac Stewart in the acknowledgements).
    • A purchase of a new phone (long needed, not quite set up yet).
    • Progress towards recovery. I’m a lot better now, but nowhere near recovered yet.
  • And I finished reading through Justin Alexander’s posted In the Shadow of the Spire campaign journals and commentaries. As a blog series, obviously more will be posted, but I’ll no longer need an archive binge to keep up.

My D&D game didn’t run this week due to illness, so again there’s nothing to report there this time. My making of things (including D&D prep) will probably be on a low ebb for a while yet as I recover, but I’m now 7 days into a typically 10-day illness, so the next fortnight should see me well (fingers crossed!).

Progress, or the lack thereof

In the past fortnight, my goals haven’t gone quite so well. I have:

  • Slept about 6.9 hours a night, and I’m feeling the lack of it (hence the late update).
  • Made Things on about 7 nights:
    • Prepared four bits and pieces for D&D, including a rough chart of several pieces of backstory. This got short change because of the left-over prep from last week, though if I’d had time and energy I could certainly still have done more,
    • Wrote one sonnet, and one segment for a longer poem,
    • Sent one (1) complaint to the council about them wanting to reduce library hours, (which managed to consume an inordinate amount of mental effort), and
    • Nearly ordered a heating upgrade for my cold house, but learned at the last minute there was probably a better, cheaper option. Back to the drawing board…
  • And I completed Act 1 of Baldur’s Gate III. I’m not sure this counts as something finished: it did take me about a hundred hours, but a lot of that may have been my determination to look in every possible pot, chest, and cupboard in hopes of finding loot among all the junk.

In the end, though, the D&D game went well, so I’m calling this fortnight good enough.

I’m still railroading more than I’d like to, but it’s early days yet. My flexibility can improve.

Some Goals, 3 Weeks In

It’s now been three weeks since my goals post. In the last fortnight, I have:

  • Slept a touch over 7½ hours a night. Slightly better than my last check-in, but some of that was only because of an early night or two when I was sick.
  • Made Things on 9 of 14 evenings:
    • Various plots and plans for the D&D game, including a soundboard of theme music for most of the major factions and NPCs.
    • Mended several shirts — but didn’t email the company I’d bought new shirts from. My mind works in strange ways sometimes…
    • A performance of some poetry, mine and others, at a pub poetry night. I wasn’t super confident of this, but I did get several compliments afterwards, so it seems I’m doing something right.
    • And did some boring life-admin things, including a start on a spreadsheet so boring I still can’t organise myself to finish it.
  • Finally, I finished reading Margaret Atwood’s The Door, a collection of poetry. I picked this out of the library on a whim, read the poem “Heart”, and knew I had to read the rest. Quite a few I liked in there, including a couple I have in mind to read for people I know.

I can’t say how well prepared I am for the game session, as it got called off yesterday. But the extra sleep has been making a positive impact on my mental health, so that’s good.

Some Goals, 1 Week In

It’s been a week since my goals post, and things have gone fairly well, I think:

  • I slept about 7⅓ hours a night, average, over the last week. By how it feels, and by the numbers, that’s better than usual for me — but it still doesn’t feel like enough. Maybe I should have aimed for 8, but I wanted my goals to be realistic 🙂
  • I made things on about 4 nights out of six:
    • a set of handy fold-over NPC sheets for the D&D game: these have the name and portrait upside down at the top, so I can fold them over my DM screen and have just that bit facing the players. It needs a few tweaks (I don’t care about optimal line length, LaTeX — just fit it all on one page!), but overall it worked pretty well.
    • plus a map and some extra NPCs for the game — most of which I didn’t use, but if I’d needed them I’d have been glad of it,
    • plus a short poem, unrelated to D&D
  • I finished reading The Cousin from Fiji, by Norman Lindsay. This was a “fun” book, rather than an “improving” one. I liked the vivid descriptions of the characters, but the book’s definitely a product of its time (1945), in a way that’d make me cautious about recommending it today.

This preparation stood me in good stead for yesterday’s session, which ran more smoothly than the last. The remaining hiccups weren’t things I could blame on a lack of prep time, so so far these goals are serving me well.

Let’s see how the next two weeks go.

Some Goals

I’ve lately started running a D&D campaign, and I’ve found my preparation leaves something to be desired. Each fortnight, I have plenty of time to prepare for the next session. Each session, I’m unprepared. For this and other reasons, I’ve decided to set some goals.

It’s been a long time since I’ve participated in A Round of Words in 80 Days, and my goals right now aren’t quite that writing-related, but the idea is similar.

Our next session is on Wednesday. By then, and each fortnight after that, I’m aiming to:

  • Sleep: at least 7 hours a night, on average
  • Make: something meaningful each day, whether it be D&D prep, writing, programming, or progress on a life thing I’m procrastinating about.
  • Finish: a substantial piece of media: a book, movie, or maybe a webcomic archive. Something that I can finish and move on from, not social media that will pull me into an endless loop.

I made this decision yesterday. So far, I’ve slept 6½ hours, and had no other progress, unless I decide to count making this blog post. Let’s see if a public set of goals changes that.

Making Dungeon Non-Linearity Meaningful

I’ve always been a fan of non-linearity in game design.

Some time ago, I read Justin Alexander’s series on Jacquaying, and immediately decided I wanted to use those principles — loops, elevation changes, and meaningful choice — in the maps I designed.

Using the tools wrong

A 30-room dungeon in three levels, with lots of inter-level connections.

Everything loops around eventually, but the paths are never short.

Recently, I got to run my first full-size dungeon (built, of course, on my understanding of these principles).

It didn’t quite work.

Continue reading

Goal: Write Goals

Between illness, broken Internet, and various other demands on my time, my focus petered out at the end of the last ROW80 round.

I’d like to say that won’t happen again. But that means something will have to change.

My Internet should be fixed soon, but that may not be enough.

Can I reduce the impact of being sick?

The last few times I’ve been sick like this, it’s taken ages to go away. I suspect this is because I don’t get enough rest. However, setting aside my goals to give myself time to relax doesn’t really work; even if I don’t write, I still stay up late and lose sleep.

For all I know, I’d actually get to sleep sooner (and heal better) if I did keep my writing goals.

What about those other demands on my time?

Some of these are house-related things (e.g. organising repairs). Some are related to things at work. But the majority are social commitments.

When I started ROW80, I basically had one day out a month. I’ve now got fencing every week, and various other social things on three weekends out of four — plus, often, a one-off thing on the fourth.

This probably isn’t that much in an absolute sense, but every extra commitment is one fewer day I can use to work on my own projects (like writing). Combined with being sick (and therefore being behind on everything), this adds up to more pressure than I’m used to.

So, what can I do about this?

Improving my time management would help, but I don’t think that’s going to happen in the short term.

Which means I need to reduce my commitments — either cut down on social situations (and become lonely), cut down on writing (and feel my goal of being a serious writer slip further from my grasp), or cut down on my other hobbies, like programming (I’d like to keep up my skills for what I do at work) and reading.

I’ve considered cutting down on punctuation (especially parentheses), but it’s too great a loss for the time it would save.

If this were an easy choice, I would have made it already.