Unexpected side-effects of caffeine withdrawal and lack of motivation

I’ve quit coffee (and caffeine) so many times over the years that I feel like I should know everything there is to know about caffeine withdrawal. And yet, I’ve been surprised this time, and some of that may be because I’m paying more attention to the longer-term effects of it than I usually do.

Today I noticed for the first time that even though I don’t appear to be sleeping better than I was before I quit, I feel kind of like I’m getting a little boost in my energy levels. And despite the frequent awakening at night, as long as I stay in bed and push myself to get enough sleep, I haven’t been suffering from any daytime drowsiness. Which is surprising, because I am definitely not feeling like I’m sleeping well at night.

I’ve had a distinct lack of motivation to work since I quit caffeine too. I’m not sure that’s related though. It’s been 15 days since I decided to quit, and 11 since I’ve had more than a minor amount of caffeine (a couple of cups of cocoa, and half a glass of sweet tea from a restaurant ordered out of habit before I remember I wasn’t supposed to order tea!). But I started a downward spiral of not really wanting to work on this book 18 days ago.

I guess, in a sense, I was hoping that better sleep would equal more energy and motivation to write, but that has not been the case.

I’d say I’m just going to strong-arm myself back to writing, but when has that ever worked? I’d love it if it did, but that’s the curse of me. I’m not capable of strong-arming myself to do something I’m not in the mood to do and I’m pretty self-destructive about it too. Such as, I really need to finish this book, for the money, for my future, for the stability of writing as a career, but I keep putting it off and doing so many other things that don’t matter at all, because I just don’t want to write (fiction) at the moment.

If I can’t make myself do it for those very important reasons, what possible reason could motivate me?

(I don’t even want to write blog posts. I’ve started and stopped a whole handful since my last substantive post and littered my blog with unfinished drafts that I have now deleted. I’m writing this post because I think it matters, for me. I need to work out some thoughts I’ve been having and writing is how I do that.)

I need to finish this book, and I just don’t care. The book is good, so it’s not a book problem. I realized that the day before yesterday, when I went back to the parts that were giving me trouble right before I quit the daily writing, thinking I would have to delete and just force myself on a different path, but I picked up right where I’d left off with no trouble at all. I realized then that it’s not the book. It’s me.

I’ve kind of known this all along, but I was almost hoping it was the book because the book would be easier to fix. (Pick a starting off point, delete the rest, and start fresh. That’s a very effective fix for most problems.)

So what do I do? I do need to finish this book, if not for me, then for the people who have said they want to read it. Maybe that’s the trick. Maybe for a while, even if it’s just a little while, I need to focus on doing this for someone else. As a general rule, I really don’t like thinking about other people when I write, and I don’t think this would mean I have to do that. It would mean only thinking about other people to get me to sit down and write, which feels like a different kind of thing.

Maybe it is time to change how I think of a few things.

Since my intrinsic motivation to write seems to have disappeared on me (temporarily, I hope), I have to find something else to focus on to get me to the book every day.

Caffeine withdrawal might not be to blame at all. There are patterns to my desire to write that I have to fight now that writing is my career. If I were making enough money and stable enough financially to take long breaks, I’d just build them into my process. But I really don’t so that’s not a reasonable option right now.

I have an inkling of an idea for something I’ll try for a while, and I’m hoping it will help. Maybe I’ll write up a post about it later. Right now, I’m done with this one and feel a need to let some of these thoughts gel.

Later. :)

 

 

 

Disappointed but sticking it out

I should be beyond the caffeine withdrawal at this point, so I’m not sure why I’m not sleeping one iota better. In fact, I’m almost willing to say I’m sleeping worse.

Caffeine has never kept me from being able to fall asleep, but it does make it easier for me to forget that I need to go to bed and get some sleep, so I really thought this would help.

I’m giving it the full month so I’m not ready to call it quits, but I am disappointed and frustrated that I haven’t seen any sleep rewards from this effort.

Bah.

No caffeine again today and no headache

Sleep was not great last night, but I feel fine today. I don’t have a headache and didn’t have one yesterday either, so I think I’m past that part of caffeine withdrawal.

I will say that my ability to concentrate is toast right now. I’ve had a two hour timer going this morning and I’ve had to stop it three times already to stop myself from pulling out my hair and tossing my computer across the room and there’s an hour and nine minutes left on the timer!

I’ve self-medicated my focus issues with caffeine for most of my life so I guess it was silly of me to think I wouldn’t have to deal with a backlash when I went off caffeine again.

Since the timer isn’t helping today I might just forego it altogether for the rest of the day. We’ll see. I’m going to cut this one short at one hour because I think I can push myself to get back to it for nine minutes, then take a break, then see if I have trouble getting started again.

First full day off caffeine

I’ve made it through weaning myself off caffeine. Today was the first day I didn’t need any coffee (or tea) at all to stave off a headache. Now I’m waiting on any lingering withdrawal symptoms to fade away.

I don’t know that there are any left, to be honest, but I’m giving it another day or two before I expect myself to feel however it is I’m going to feel without caffeine.

As for today and the last several days? My mood has been in the dumps, and I haven’t slept one iota better than I slept before quitting caffeine.

But I’m holding out hope. Last night there were storms and lightning and wind that kept waking me up, and so last night can’t count as a test night of sleep. Tonight, on the other hand, I expect to be a good night, and if it isn’t, I’m definitely going to be disappointed. But like I said, I’m going to give it another day or two before I let myself get frustrated about anything.

January 2020 progress

I’d almost forgotten to write my January progress post, and although it’s a few days late, I don’t want to skip it because January was actually a pretty good month despite falling far short of the goals I had set for myself. I didn’t come anywhere near 3,600 words a day—or 4,000 or 2,400 or even 2,000.

But January did become my best January on record and that’s not nothing.

January words: 24,213

My next best January was back in 2014, when I logged 23,650 words. That said, none of the other Januarys really come close. My January average now stands at 9,161 words even with the new best January.

I also decided at the end of the month to quit coffee and tea, so that’s something I’m doing now to improve my sleep. I can’t say it’s working, yet, but I have hope! :)

Over the course of the month, I realized the daily writing posts weren’t working for me, so on January 31, I made the call to end them. I also realized that I needed to try something different for a while, so I’ve started putting the focus back on finishing one thing at a time.

I mostly do that anyway, but sometimes I don’t. From now on, the general rule is going to be to keep pushing at one thing until it’s done before I start working on anything else. It’s just too hard to tell the difference between self-sabotaging behaviors like procrastination and beneficial ones like dwell time. I might end up with better word counts on any one day, but I lose interest so easily that letting myself get distracted by other stories only seems to be hurting me in the long-run.

Now, back to focusing on February and working on this book I’m trying to finish. I’m trying to end it this week but if that’s going to happen, I definitely have to get in some words.

 

Mental barriers to forward progress and a caffeine withdrawal check in

The coffee/caffeine weaning is going well. I woke up with a heavy head and a slight headache this morning but overall I feel good. I’ve got my 4 oz of coffee sitting beside me (made with only 1 tsp. of coffee) and I’ll have another in a few hours if this one doesn’t knock the headache back all the way. If it does, then I’ll skip the next one. :D

I always like to hurry these things along, but the one thing I don’t want to end up with is a raging headache so I’m going to be careful not to go too fast on this.

As for the writing, the daily writing streak is still going. I didn’t check on the number of days, because I don’t really care right now. It’s not my priority. I’m focused on a different experiment I’ll talk about later this month, after I see where it leads me in February.

I believe I know now why I was feeling so constricted by the extra challenges I had added to my daily writing streak. It was exactly the same thing I went through with the “no sweets before 1000” streak right before I had to end it. Because I’ve had two negative word days since I failed to meet it and finally made progress yesterday after getting rid of some cruft that was holding me back.

In other words, the perfectionism had cropped up and I kept putting off deleting stuff I needed to delete to make sure I got the words for the streak logged in my daily word count spreadsheet.

List of recent word counts

I’ve explained before that I don’t track written words separate from deleted words. It all comes together into my daily count. But my inner perfectionist sees a negative count as a failure even if I know I wrote enough words to count.

I deleted a couple of thousand words between 1/30 and 2/2. The only reason my word counts aren’t reflecting that is because I also wrote a couple of thousand words between 1/30 and 2/2.

You sure can’t see that in the numbers.

It’s a minor flaw in my system that I built in on purpose. I only track publishable numbers. My cumulative word count equals the manuscript word counts of all my written stories and all my stories that are in progress, and the moment a story gets tossed, that day’s word count is going to take a hit.

I seem to forget that when I decide to do challenges that don’t allow for the negative days. Maybe next time I’ll remember now that I’ve written it out. ;-)

I do delete and I’m generally not afraid to do that because words are just words. And that means my word counts are what they are and don’t always reflect my true effort for any particular day.

Sometimes you just have to cut your losses on a scene or chapter or three, and start over, maybe going in a different direction, maybe just coming at it again in a slightly different way, with a different perspective. (That’s what worked for me yesterday.) It’s important not to have mental barriers in place that stop you from doing what needs to be done. :)

I feel better, and the book has started moving forward again. I have a feeling I’ll make a lot of progress toward my ending today.

It’s time to quit caffeine (coffee) (again)

It’s time for an experiment!

I’ve quit caffeine cold-turkey too many times to count in my life and I know what to expect—so I am not going cold-turkey. The last time I quit caffeine, I weaned myself off it and it worked out so much better. That’s the path I’ll be taking this time, now that I’ve decided I need to quit caffeine for a while to see if I can improve my sleep.

I’ve been sleeping poorly lately, and I’ve been drinking more and more caffeine between coffee and tea (black and green), and I’m not reaching to say there is probably a connection. :) I’ve also been experiencing a few more headaches than usual lately, and I’d like to see if it’s the caffeine. I’m bad at routine, so some days I do too much and some days too little and this varying caffeine consumption can definitely cause withdrawal symptoms.

I worry, a bit, because coffee kind of brings the world to life around me, and usually (but not always) helps me focus and feel clear-headed. Sometimes it’s the opposite. I wake up feeling crystal clear and that first cup of coffee steals that away and makes me feel a bit too hyperactive. Those are the days I tell myself I’m going to wait a few hours the next morning before I have my coffee. I almost never do.

It also exacerbates that nervy feeling I get sometimes and can make me feel like I want to jump out of my skin. It only takes one cup too many to give me a bad case of the jitters and an upset stomach, and sometimes I have that cup before I’ve realized it and then I spend several hours feeling miserable. I’ve always thought I am highly sensitive to caffeine.

I’ve had a love / hate relationship with caffeine (coffee and tea) for most of my life. :D It’s time for a break.

I’ll take a pass on those second thoughts, thank you

I went to bed last night wondering if I had made the right decision in ending the daily postings because my inner perfectionist was telling me that I should have stuck it out even though it wasn’t helping simply because I had said I was going to try to do that this year.

The second thoughts didn’t last long, but there was still a niggle in the back of my brain, the inner voice of my personal critic, calling me a quitter, because of course there was. I manage to ignore that voice more often than not, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t get to me after a while.

Negative self-talk is pretty much useless at self-motivation, but that voice never dies because it thinks it knows best and will browbeat the hell out of you trying to get you to listen.

Ignore the fucker. That’s all the advice I have about that.

But then a little miracle happened. :D

This morning I woke up early after a terrible night of sleep and started doing a little online reading. I came across Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s newest post, Nobody Cares.

If you’re doing work you don’t care about, then find a way to move on. Because you don’t care and nobody else does either, so why are you doing this again? Because you made up some perfect ideal, and now you’re trying to achieve it, and it’s only causing you emotional distress.

I always find it interesting that I seem to come across articles like this when I most need them. I realize that a lot of time this is simply confirmation bias at work, but it still often feels like a sign that I’ve chosen the right path.

So, yeah, I’ll take a pass on those second thoughts, thank you very much.

Daily post – Jan. 31, 2020

Today, being the 31st, is a good day to end this.

This will be the last “Daily writing” post.

It felt a lot more like an obligation than I meant it to. Even though I tried a couple of different things to get past that feeling, nothing really worked. In the end, it still felt like an obligation and became something I dreaded doing every day.

I’m just going to go back to posting my monthly progress reports with some scattered reports in between when I feel like it and that’s going to be that, because honestly that’s really the only reason I post. I do it when things are on my mind and I want to clear my head. That could be a scattering of posts or it could be a lump of three or four in a row.

:-)

On that note, I have a novel to finish and I need to spend some time working on it. I might come back and post my word count–and I might not, because this is the last daily post so who really cares? ;-)

I will update my accountability page with my January number once the day is over.

Daily post – Jan. 30, 2020

Thursday word count = -58 words.

Back on January 11, I added an extra element to the “no more zero word days” challenge to make it more interesting.

Last night I failed to keep that going. I know I wrote 50 words, so I’m good on the 50 word rule for the streak that I set back in November, but I did not write enough words to match the length of the daily writing streak. What I did write got offset by the deleted words and that’s how I ended up with -58 words for the day.

I’m now going to drop back to just keeping the basic “no more zero word days” streak going for as long as I can and let my muse tell me if I want to add another extra element to the streak at some future date. As of right now, I really don’t want to. I don’t even want to keep the daily writing streak going. I’m not sure how I’ve managed not to drop it yet.

The itch to let it go is constant at this point. I have visions of making it to 365 days, but GAH, I really just want to drop it. But I’m sitting down now to write today, so it feels silly to preemptively end it. So I won’t.

But now, right now? I totally know why, on the last day of my last attempt at daily writing, I wrote: Gave up on daily writing. It sucks.

It sucks!

(I will say that eliminating the daily writing post obligation and letting go of the extra little challenges I’ve tacked on might help me keep this going. Tomorrow, I’ll probably feel better about it. If I can just hang on until then.) :D

It’s time to write on fewer stories at one time

I currently have ten stories in progress. The longest one is at 66,000+ words and the shortest is at 188. Overall, I have more than 107,000 words of unfinished stories waiting to be finished. This is the natural result of keeping multiple stories going at once.

I’ve been working on the premise that I should always be writing whatever seems the most interesting to me to keep my interest levels as high as possible. However, that presupposes that just pecking away at the current story wouldn’t trigger new interest when I finally hit on something that felt right for the story, and also presupposes that getting tied up in something else wouldn’t delay a return of interest for the original story. And as it stands, I can’t know the answer to that.

As much as keeping multiple stories going seems to help me write more when the writing isn’t going well, I can’t really know that for sure, primarily because when I started doing it my numbers were already falling and I was trying to prop them up in whatever way I could.

Even though 2019 was a big improvement over the two years before, my best annual word counts came in years when I was still writing only on one book at a time for the most part, and I haven’t beaten those numbers yet.

Now, I don’t know that this means anything. I’ve been in a weird transitional phase with my kids for several years now, because it’s their college years and only one seems to have settled a bit, and the other is home a lot and has a work schedule that is all over the place, but I thought it was worth a true experiment to find out if sticking to one thing at a time might be better for me in the long run.

This came about because I’m frustrated that I’ve lost interest in several of the stories I have in progress and I blame that on the fact that I feel like I’ve been working on some of these stories for far, far, far too long.

I just can’t hold interest in something that long. It’s starting to feel like it would be better not to even start the book at all if I’m not going to be able to devote myself to it and finish it within a reasonable span of time.

Something has to give, because to be frank, I’m losing interest in almost every story I write these days long before I make it to the end. I’m not used to that, and I don’t like it. If I can’t get that under control, I can’t improve my daily word counts and I can’t meet my goals.

 

Daily writing – Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020

I wrote 190 words on Tuesday, and more than half of those were on paper with a pencil. :-O What?

I used to write a lot on paper, but I really don’t work like that anymore. This is what the streak has driven me to. :D

I was out yesterday evening and tired when I came home and tried to do my words at the computer but I kept nodding (I did stay up until 3 am the night before) so I gave up. I said, nope, not doing it tonight. Don’t care about the streak. Just can’t do it.

Then I put away my computer (I was in bed), and before I knew it, I’d picked up my little notebook that I keep with me almost everywhere, and my pencil, and I’d started writing. It came so much easier than it had been coming on the computer that it took me a minute tops to write enough words to keep the challenge part of my daily writing streak alive.

In fact, I spent fifteen minutes or more staring at the computer trying to get something to come to me to write next, and yeah, I wrote 80 words, but it was hard. I was just too tired.

Only apparently I wasn’t.

So here’s my little tip of the day: If the words aren’t flowing, pick up a pencil and a notebook and try that. You might be as surprised as I was that what had felt hard a minute before felt effortless a minute after. :-)

Now, I’m ready to start my three hours of leisurely writing and get my first 1,000 words so I can get that cup of hot chocolate I mentioned a day or so ago. Yesterday was not a good day for writing, so I didn’t, but today I have no other plans and I’m kind of hoping for TWO cups before the day is over. ;-)

(Also, I changed the title format again, and left a note in Sunday’s post that explained it.)

Daily writing – Monday, Jan. 27, 2020

Today I finally got back to the novel. I wrote 1,622 words on it.

I also think I found my new routine for a while: a 3.5 hour block in my calendar for writing and a timer set for 3 hours of leisurely writing. ← Leisurely is the key word there.

I don’t like pushing but I do it all the time. It ruins the fun of writing for me. It’s time I stopped that. I have to write the way that makes writing the most fun and the easiest for me. Easy writing is fun writing. (Not theme, craft, blah blah blah, I’m talking process—the actual act of writing.) I need writing to feel easy. If it doesn’t feel easy, I procrastinate and I don’t write.

I am done pushing to write faster. I write at the speed I write, and that’s that.

And now to tell you how I really did it. :D

Although all of that mentioned above helped me today, it’s not what got me to sit my butt down and stick it out today. It was just the method I chose to get me to a cup of hot chocolate. :)

Yep. Hot chocolate.

A little more than a month ago, I cut out most sweets from my diet and that has been working great. But I’ve been missing hot chocolate something fierce during these dreary winter days this week. (I had specifically forbidden hot chocolate because it’s a weakness of mine, and one cup becomes two and then I’m drinking far too much hot chocolate every day.)

So I revisited the idea of my “no sweets before 1,000 words” rule and decided that I was willing to self-sabotage the no-sweets rule for the benefit of my writing.

I made a list of things in OneNote that I thought would help focus me.

==> New rule: Hot chocolate after I write 1000 words! But only if I get there. Then I can sit down with my hot chocolate and get the rest of my quota.

It worked. :)

What is the quota, you ask? (Or maybe you don’t because you don’t really care. If so, why the hell are you reading these blog posts? There really is nothing here for you if my process doesn’t interest you at all, because that is what the vast majority of my posts are about. :D)

The quota is the number of words I need to get to meet my 2020 financial goals, based on the historical value of a word in dollars. I’ve been calculating that in a spreadsheet for years—earnings per word published. It’s a little complicated, but it’s a fun exercise for me. I happen to really love playing with numbers.

That quota is 1,616 words average. (2,000 today and 1,232 tomorrow work just as well as 1,616 every day. It’s an average. But the easiest way to hit the average is to get as close to 1,616 as I can every day.)

So I have a quota based on financial goals, and I have a goal based on how many words it would take to make me feel prolific. They’re not the same and probably shouldn’t be, because I’d hate to think I had to be highly prolific to meet my financial goals. However, being highly prolific is something I aspire to.

As for the “no sweets before 1,000 words” rule, I was following this rule back in April and May when I had my first two consecutive 50,000 word months. It’s a powerful motivator, because I love sweets just that much. Hot chocolate was often the sweet I went to the minute I had reached that 1,000 word mark even back then.

And sure enough, I started this rule yesterday evening and although I didn’t write enough words to get chocolate yesterday, I found myself making writing my priority today just so I could make sure I got my hot chocolate this evening. :D

The rule is simple: write a thousand words and get a cup of hot chocolate. That first 1,000 words is the big hump. I had toyed with making my rule more strict and tied into my daily quota, but decided against that.

Small wins are great motivators. :-)

As an extra incentive to keep trying for the bigger, more aspirational goal, I can have a second cup if I make it to 4,000 words.

The second cup hump is bigger because if I’m going to self-sabotage, I’m going to have to earn it. :D

Now, off to bed. :)

Daily writing – Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020

I’m changing the way I title these posts for my own benefit. I want the day in there so I can keep track of where I am in the week, and I like the way “progress” fits in my mind better than “daily post” which feels like an obligation. This is a blog, and it’s a very casual one at that, so putting that feeling of obligation in there takes something I like and makes it unpleasant. I still plan to do a daily post, I’m just changing how I view them, internally. :)

(I have since changed my mind a bit on this. I’ve retitled these posts “Daily writing – ” because I think it accomplishes the same thing but separates them a little better from my “progress” posts. Basically, “Daily writing – ” doesn’t feel like an obligation to post, it feels like an opportunity to talk about the daily writing.)

Now, on to today’s progress.

I wrote 238 words today, and I had to jump to one of my other stories to get started, because I’m still not in the mood to write on my novel even though I really need to get this thing done. I wrote 104 words on the short story (same one as yesterday) and then switched to the novel and started weaving together those parts I’d written out of order that I mentioned in yesterday’s post, and that’s how I got the rest.

The No More Zero Word Days streak is up to 174 days now, far exceeding my former 122 day record. I’ve had some days where I just wanted to drop it, but I’ve managed not to do that. Re-reading that post I linked to reminded me of why this time is different and it’s given me some added motivation to keep going.

Tonight, I start reading through my previous days’ writing in the mornings and at night again. I’ve found that helpful in the past, because it keeps me grounded in my story.

This is what some people would probably call cycling, except I do it on my phone. I highlight stuff that needs fixed (missing words, etc) and then those are the things I do first when I open the computer to write. This is exactly how I do my final read through and copy edit. Send my book to my phone or Kindle tablet and read it like a book, adding highlights and notes to things that need fixed. Works like a dream. :)

On to tomorrow.

Daily post – Jan. 25, 2020 – Saturday

I finally gave in tonight and turned to another story to get some words in after barely wanting to look at my novel. I kept putting off even doing the 172 words I need to keep my daily writing streak alive, so switching off to something else was about the only way I was going to get to go to bed tonight. :)

The good news is that I’m not broken—I didn’t have any trouble getting in some quick words on the other story. I’d like to finish it soon anyway, so it was nice to revisit it. Maybe tomorrow I’ll be in a better frame of mind and ready to set in on the ending of the novel.

I think the big thing stopping me from moving forward with that one is that I have some written-out-of-order stuff to merge and I just don’t want to do it. That’s not how I usually write, and when I do, it’s a pain in the butt to merge it all, and I can’t really move on until I do, hence avoidance and procrastination. I will prevail! Eventually. :D

In the meantime, I wrote 233 words. The streak continues. ;)

Daily post – Jan. 24, 2020 – Friday

Getting myself to write fiction this week has felt like pulling teeth. :-o

I took to a tablet tonight with an ink pen and wrote 235 words to keep my streak of daily writing going.

If I make it to tomorrow afternoon without any appreciable writing on this book, I think I’m going to have to take a break and work on my next novel for the day instead. It’s sitting at about 15,000 words and I left my characters in a fun place (high drama!) the last time I wrote on the book.

 

Daily post – Jan. 23, 2020 – Thursday – Part two

I made it past the hump. I didn’t make a lot of progress with the word count, because I deleted two chunks of story that I no longer need and that knocked down my document’s word count. Since that’s how I track my daily word count, I have ended for the day at a net 266 words.

Considering I started the day with a big ol’ negative word count, I’m pretty happy that I not only covered the deleted words, but added enough to get me into positive numbers. :D

The book is moving along. I’m still not sure how much longer the book is going to be. I do know I tend to slow down as I get to the end, while I’ve heard (and talked to) a lot of other writers who speed up as they get to the end. Don’t really know why they don’t slow down, or why I don’t speed up, but I don’t really care. I just think it’s interesting.

Anyway, I’m pleased with my progress. Didn’t find a single mistake in the entire first two chapters (but I’ve already read through them a few times since I began this book) and I made only a few minor additions. And I love it. The book is hitting all the right spots for me. That’s important to me, for the simple fact that as long as I love this book, I don’t give a flying rat’s ass what anyone else thinks about it because it makes me happy. ;D

(Not gonna lie, I’ve loved every book I’ve written. Every last one of them. I can’t be objective, but I don’t really have to be. That’s not my job. I just write them to make me happy. That is the only objective I have when I start any book: make me happy.)

Now, off to sleep, and hopefully, I’ll get on a roll with this book tomorrow! :D

Daily post – Jan. 23, 2020 – Thursday – Part one

As I said in my last post, I seem to be feeling better today (those sleep habits coming into play again) so I’m expecting myself to get some real writing done today.

Luckily I woke up feeling good today and hopeful and even a little inspired so maybe I’m getting there. :-)

I’ve had a little visit from project block and normally I’d just move to another story for a while but this book is expected and I haven’t finished it yet. Since I gotta make a living, I need to work on this book, and lo and behold, that has added pressure to the writing that I don’t need—or deal well with.

I have to trick myself into changing my mindset and that’s actually pretty hard to do—although not impossible.

I’m also really not in the mood to write. And when there’s no one but me telling me I have to do this, well, we all know self-imposed deadlines and threats and promises of rewards are very unlikely to work for long. :D

They help, sometimes, but they’re no magic cure.

I just do not like writing when I’m not in a writing mood. I get bored with reading too sometimes. Like right now, I keep starting books, getting about a chapter in, and dumping them. Nothing satisfies, and I can’t concentrate on a book long enough to care.

Some of these books would probably have been perfectly fun to read, and I expect I’ll come back to some of them later. Some of them just aren’t for me and I’ll never read them. Those I’ve already deleted. Why bother keeping a book I don’t like? I’m sure not going to force myself to read them later. I couldn’t even force myself to read bad books in high school when my grades depended on it. Luckily, I was good enough at bullshitting my way through those reports and papers to do okay anyway. :D

Here’s a funny story. One of those books was The Hobbit. It’s a fantasy classic, but I just could not get into that book. I’ve never read the Lord of the Rings trilogy, although I liked the movies very much. I’ve tried, don’t get me wrong, but ugh. It was torture! But I love fantasy. I’ve read The Belgariad (ten books, plus extras) too many times to count. Those are some of my most read books.

I start books, put bookmarks in where I stopped (if it’s a printed book), and go back sometimes years later and finish them. Sometimes I never finish them. And lots of the time, once I restart, I have no idea why I stopped reading them.

I don’t go back and re-read the stuff I’ve already read. I just pick up where I left off because I usually remember everything once I’m a few pages in again. Lots of people can’t do that. But, I’ve said it before, people are different. That’s one of my superpowers. :D

Right now, I’m barely reading. I’m just not in the mood for that either.

I think I’ve said it before, somewhere probably buried within the site, that reading tends to be my bellwether for where I am creatively speaking, and if I’m not in the mood to read I’m almost never in the mood to write.

But if I gave in to my moods all the time, I’d be—wait. I kind of am poor at the moment. :D

The sad fact is, I don’t really care. When I don’t want to write, I don’t write.

Getting past that is indescribably hard. I’ll suffer a lot to keep from doing things I don’t want to do—a lot more than most people would be willing to suffer, for sure.

I binge write mostly. The same way I binge read. I want to establish a routine that will help me write more, but I only want that because I want to be more prolific. :D It’s kind of a pie-in-the-sky dream but I am doing things to help it become a reality.

My daily writing streak is now 170 days long. That’s an improvement over my former record of 122 days.

My January word count is 19,676 words (publishable only, anything I deleted hit my word count as a negative). So I’m currently at my second best January word count since I started keeping up in 2012 and that’s with nine days to go in the month.

Small wins. :D I’ll take ’em.

Right now I’m in the situation of needing to write when I’m really not in the mood and my natural inclination is not to care enough to do anything about it.

I spend a lot of time trying to get past that by introducing other things to my writing that I find exciting or motivating: challenges, goals, rewards, talking myself around, blogging until I’m sick of it, running numbers in my spreadsheets, doing what-if analysis, imaging what could happen if I did this much writing or that much publishing, etc.

The goal of the daily writing streak was to help me get over the hump of inertia when I lose interest in writing for a while. That has worked on one level, but not as much as I’d hoped.

Yesterday, I had a little fun running some numbers to assess the effectiveness of the streak.

Over the 169 days of daily writing, I wrote 125,202 words.

Over the 169 days prior to the streak, I wrote 132,296 words.

BUT the 169 days covering the same time last year (and the year before and year before, etc.) shows the streak has probably made a difference overall.

Over the previous years’ same time periods, I averaged 35,225 words less than the current streak period, and not one of those periods had a higher word count than this one.

Yay! I’m glad to know it has helped at least in that regard.

Now if it would just make me want to write more than I want to write, since I totally want to write more than I’m writing! ;)

There’s probably a reason December and January are usually my slow months. And to be honest, I’ve actually done really well this year. I’m currently on track (extrapolating this month’s daily word count to the whole month) for this to become my 21st best month out of 91 months of tracking even if I keep trudging along and don’t improve any more than I’ve already improved. That’s nothing to sneeze at. :)

It just goes to show that for those of us who find routine difficult and boredom a mind-killer (and a will- and motivation-killer too) that you don’t have to accept that as the status quo. You can still improve if you find something that keeps you moving, even if you’re feeling like you’re moving through molasses (it happened, 1919! (that’s an affiliate link, by the way)).

What I need is a big exciting idea to pop into my head and save me from this bored-with-everything phase I’m in. ;-)

Truly, if I had a choice, I wouldn’t write on any story right now. I’d just hole up and do absolutely nothing productive whatsoever.

But I will keep trying to move forward and get it done anyway. :D

Because there’s poor, and then there’s poor. I’d rather avoid the second one. ;)

On that note, I’m going to go stare at my book and write the next sentence and see where I end up today. :)

Since I’d rather not revisit this long post later, I named it Part one and will post my end of the day accountability post in Part two.

Daily post – Jan. 22, 2020 – Wednesday

Short night. Went to sleep at 3 am, woke up at 8 and couldn’t go back to sleep, so I’m up early.

Today I’m coming at my writing from the angle of no schedule at all. I haven’t decided if I’ll use a timer. I guess it depends on what happens when I sit down to write. :-)

I’m going to try for a large word count today because I want to get as close to the end of this book as I can get. I can’t honestly tell you if I’m getting close or not. But my last one was well over 100k words and I just do not want that for this book. So I’m holding out hope that my muse isn’t going to do that to me again. Maybe futilely. :D

Today I’m going to write, copy edit some early chapters, follow no schedule at all, maybe use timers, maybe not, finish my cover, finish my taxes, order a washing machine, and probably take a nap at some point!

Now, off to get this day started and I’ll update later.

And

I wrote 210 words just to keep my streak alive thirty minutes before I went to bed. So, yeah, I’m writing this bit on Thursday morning. I tried something a little different yesterday, but it failed hard. :)

I’d call this project block, but what it really is is project boredom. ;-) My characters aren’t telling me what they want to do next and what they’re doing now is boring the hell out of me. :D

The good news is I feel a lot better today, so I think I’ll find the discipline to sit down and get my characters to make some decisions about what the hell it is they’re doing. ;-)

If they annoy me too much today, I’ll chop off the last two or three chapters and tell them they better rethink that last big decision! I’ll put the screws to them. If they want this story told, they better start talking. :D