Time for a fresh start

One: I activated the block editor. I hate it. I’ll probably get used to it. :)

Two: In 2020, I wrote the fewest words I’ve written in a year since I started self-publishing.

Three: I would like to write more words in 2021 than I’ve ever written in a year.

Four: January was a negative month. I didn’t write, and the little bit I touched my books, all I managed to do was delete 24 words. Yippee. That means I have 11 months to write at least 300,000 words. (That’s a bit more than 30,000 words above my best year.) (That’s about 909 words a day until the end of the year.)

Five: I am so far from motivated to do this that I really regret writing number four.

Six: I’ve added a 3 hour block for writing to my calendar. (Since I currently have a word count goal that I’ve been successfully ignoring for more than a month.)

Seven: No matter what else I do tomorrow, I want to spend that three hours writing, in one block of time. I mean, I could split it up, but I see no reason to, and I want to take advantage of momentum.

Eight: I really really regret writing number seven.

Nine: It doesn’t matter if I’m productive, if I putter or sprint, if I proofread or write. I have a completed story that I should publish and get out of the way, and if that’s what I end up doing in those three hours, that’s fine by me.

Ten: The point of this post is to come back tomorrow and see if I’ve done anything about this.

It’s a fresh start.

I do not like the block editor, but it’s time to decide: block or bust

I write my posts out of order, so the block editor makes writing blog posts harder for me. A compromise would be to write the text in OneNote and then copy+paste into WordPress and make it into blocks there. I don’t like that idea, so I haven’t done it.

I’ve tried it, mind you. I just don’t like doing it.

Most of the posts I start in OneNote stay in OneNote. Because once I’ve written them, there doesn’t feel like much point in posting. I write most of my posts to get things out of my head, and I post them because it’s convenient and because I wrote them as a blog post, so why not? When I write them in OneNote, they become diary entries that don’t feel like they have a place on my blog.

Writing out of order means a lot of copying and pasting between blocks in the block editor of WordPress. I’m not that fond of it. My preference is dragging text around. You can’t do that in the block editor between blocks. Or if you can, I sure have never found a way. It’s disappointing, and it’s a big failure for the block editor to long-form writers who prefer to write inside WordPress.

On the other hand…

I’m trying really hard this year to break free of perfectionism and all the garbage that comes with it. Forcing myself to write posts as they come and abandon out-of-order writing might not be a bad way to practice that.

So here goes.

Block post #1.

It’s been 282 days since I quit caffeine; what I’ve learned

It’s been 282 days since I quit caffeine. Technically, I do still ingest minute amounts. I drink decaffeinated coffee a couple times a day, and I have the occasional cup of hot chocolate. I do not, however, drink regular coffee or tea any longer, and I avoid all other caffeine where I can.

I’ve learned a few things since I quit.

One, I don’t sleep better off without caffeine. I’m hitting a stage in my life, apparently, where a full night of sleep is just harder for me. I had been blaming my coffee habit for my poor sleep, and it just didn’t turn out to be the case.

Two, I’ve had a lot less trouble with anxiety of any kind in the last 282 days than I had in the preceding year, despite having a lot more reason to be feeling anxious. So that’s been a good thing to realize. The evidence is pretty strong that caffeine was triggering anxiety for me when I was feeling stressed. I’m still pretty stressed these days, but I’m having a much easier time controlling the anxiety it produces.

Three, the world does feel a bit flatter for me without caffeine. I’ve gotten used to it, and I actually think I like it. I’m also noticing that now that it’s been a while, I’m starting to feel more like my old self even without caffeine. I don’t know how long it takes a person to truly adapt to life without caffeine and for the brain to compensate, but I think it is a lot longer than I ever suspected!

Four, I had a lot of ups and downs with my energy levels when I was on caffeine, and I still have those.

All in all, I’m really glad I quit caffeine when I did. I also don’t have plans currently to start drinking it again. I’m not saying never but I am saying not now. Life will have to become fairly stress-free for me to think it’s worth it.

Days 1–12 of NANOWRIMO 2020

I’ve been trying to participate in NaNoWriMo this year. I’m pretty far behind, to be honest, but I’m not giving up. :-)

Even if I fall short, I’ll probably do significantly better with my word count than I did last month, and that’s a win any way I look at it.

November: 6,540 words.

There are some prolific authors who caution against participating in NaNoWriMo. I’m not all that prolific (even though I’d like to be), but I have exactly the opposite experience and recommendation.

During NaNoWriMo 2010 is when I finally realized I could write a book significantly faster than in a year. Yes, a YEAR. I was on the cusp of finishing my first full novel that wasn’t going to require edits because I actually paid attention to my gut and wrote it the way I wanted it as I went, making sure it wasn’t sloppy, and I wasn’t telling myself constantly that I could always go back and fix something if it wasn’t good enough.

I say cusp, because something happened that year that led me to put aside the book until the following May, but in May, I went back at it with the same NaNoWriMo attitude I’d used in November and I finished the book.

All told, I wrote 80,000 words of a finished book (that required nothing but a few little typo fixes here and there) over the course of one November and part of May—in less than 60 days, total.

Until that happened, I had no idea this was possible for me.

;D

I credit NaNoWriMo for giving me the push I needed to learn something about myself and writing. So, even though I would love to write 50,000 words every month, and would do it if I could figure out why I can’t do it (it’s an ongoing self-castigating angst-fest, so don’t ask), I always like to try to give a little extra of myself come November and NaNoWriMo. :-)

Here’s what I do to make the most of it for me.

I ignore any and all advice that suggests I should just slop words onto the page. I write with purpose—that purpose being to finish a book that is clean and ready to go after a decent copy edit.

I take advantage of all the sprint companionship I can.

This is probably the biggest help for me. I have real trouble staying focused and getting self-motivated (and this is not a writing problem for me, it’s a life problem). These opportunities don’t come around all the time. People are excited about NaNoWriMo and I can find way more fellow sprinters than usual in the various NaNoWriMo Forums, Discord servers, etc.

Honestly, I don’t even sign up at the NaNoWriMo website anymore. I just hang out in the Discord server for my area’s NaNoWriMo group and sprint with fellow writers and try to hit 50,000 words, whether that’s a new book or something I already had started. I’m a bit of a rebel these days. :D

KDP has a new series manager

I logged into KDP a few days ago and found the links to the new series manager.

Today, I noticed there is big link to it on the main Bookshelf page.

Image of KDP's Bookshelf notice for the series manager

I’m glad to see this. I once had a problem with one of my series books not showing up as part of my series, all because of an apostrophe. I didn’t enter the series name differently in the book details, but somehow the system did something totally weird and messed it up anyway.

Maybe now if something similar ever happens again, I can deal with it on my own. :)

About the lack of daily posts for the 180 day plan

I’m still tracking the number of days passed and remaining of my 180 day plan. I don’t know that I’ve had a worse start to a plan. I don’t know that I haven’t, so I’m not going to give too much of my thinking time to figuring it out.

The daily posts have fallen by the wayside, mostly because I decided that keeping the number in my head daily was hurting more than helping my motivation to get started every day.

I’ll post an update at every 30 day mark instead of daily and let it go at that. The next one will be at day 60.

As for now, I’ve decided I need something a little more immediate to get me to the keyboard since my love of the story isn’t doing it. I couldn’t care less about writing much of anything right now, for whatever reason, but not caring doesn’t build a habit, and it sure doesn’t keep me moving toward my goal.

I’ve come up with a plan, and I’m excited about it, because I think it has real potential.

Post about that coming up. :-)

Day 11 in review (180 day plan)

Last night, I made a (loose) schedule for today. I followed the first block of time. After that, I mostly just kept going back to the story and tinkering, six minutes at a time.

I started at the beginning of my story yesterday and started working through it. I was still on that today, and it’s a short story. In fact, I’m still on that. Yikes.

I don’t know why it’s been such slow going unless it’s just because it’s been so long since I began this that I’ve lost the feeling for it and needed the time to really get into my characters again. After thinking about that for two seconds and taking a few more to go look at the date that I started this one (10/29/19), I’m going to say yes, that’s exactly what’s going on.* (Never mind. See below.) (Where has the year gone? Holy crap. I can’t believe it’s been 11 months.)

Anyway, I did 17 six minute sprints, worked through about 2,700 words, and ended up with 144 more words than I had to start with.

Tomorrow I’ll probably do a lot better. I have about 2,000 words to get through and I don’t think they’ll need me to touch them that much, if at all, so I might even read them on my phone tonight and highlight anything that needs fixed. Otherwise, I’m leaving the rest of this thing alone.

I really don’t even know what I’ve been doing to the rest of it that it took me almost 2 hours to get through fewer than 3,000 words. Maybe this is a case of those six minute sprints making me feel like I’m doing more than I am. :-o

*Actually, after seeing that my 6 minutes x 17 = less than two hours, I’ve realized that I have no idea what I’m talking about. The most disappointing thing about it all is that I didn’t get more 6 minute sessions in. I spent a LOT of time at the keyboard today.

**Why 6 minutes? Because it takes 10 of them to make an hour. :D This is just a new version of the 5 minute sessions that I use to help me focus when it feels especially hard. I do what I can.

Day in review posts for the 180 day plan

Okay, no looking backward. I wrote out a whole post for yesterday (Day 11 in review), explaining some of what’s been going on that has severely interfered with my 180 day plan this first week and a half, but then I realized it was all in the past.

I want to leave it in the past.

What’s the purpose of writing day-after posts that do nothing more than discuss what’s gone wrong and list out excuses? Valid reasons for not being able to write or not, revisiting them doesn’t help my motivation to do better today.

There are missing days already, and writing day-after posts doesn’t offer any benefit to me and has no real purpose. I want to be thinking forward and moving forward, and focus on how to get the words I want instead of agonizing about the words I haven’t gotten.

Missed posts are just missed posts and nothing to worry about.

Some days I might go back to doing some of my writing log posts, where I detail sprints or sessions. I feel a little out of sorts and a lot out of routine and that kind of thing might be helpful. :)

Now, on to today’s writing. :)

 

Day 9 in review (180 day plan)

I ended day 9 with 219 words.

That isn’t anywhere near where I need to be. However, I did go back through the story I’m trying to finish and made some adjustments and fixed some things and that is where I spent most of my writing time today.

I’m very happy with the story right now, but I had wanted to get into some new writing and it just didn’t happen.

Day 8 was a zero word day.

Day 7 in review (180 day plan)

Today, my word count came in at 220 words. It wasn’t what I wanted when I started this morning, but it’s what I’ve ended up with.

I did read a previous story in this series today for the sake of continuity, and I worked my way back through the beginning of the story I’m trying to finish until I hit on what it was that felt off. I fixed that.

I think I’ll finish this story tomorrow.

I am not adjusting my start date of my plan, but I’m not going to focus on trying to catch up either. I figure moving forward is the best use of my time. The one thing I’ve done is decide that writing will be my only priority every day until it’s done and everything else will come after that.

If you’re wondering what happened to days 4–6, I put that below. Suffice to say, I’m not in a happy place right now about my house!

Day 4 in review: Drowning under home maintenance issues.

Day 5 in review: Still.

Day 6 in review: I decided that this was going to be the last day I lose to unplanned home maintenance. There’s only so much I can do in a day, and writing has to come first. It’s how I pay my bills.

Day 3 in review (180 day plan)

It’s been a slow start on this 180 day plan, but today I finally made some progress. The short story I want to finish got a few new words. I got the opening right, finally, after coming back to it multiple times over the last few weeks trying to figure out what my hind-brain was trying to tell me about it.

I’m happy about that.

I’m not happy that I didn’t reach my goal word count for the day.

Tomorrow should be better.

Day 2 in review (180 day plan)

This is going to be short because I’ve been sick most of the day. Tomorrow will have to be my first attempt for 7,000 words (and sorely needed at this point). I don’t think it’s the mold (yesterday’s problem) but who knows. All I do know is that I’ve only started to feel like doing anything in the last hour or so. I have done no writing at all today and I’m going to bed anyway. I’ve been unusually sleepy today on top of feeling sick, so everything is just going to have to wait until tomorrow.

(Yesterday and today is basically how the last few months have played out. Every day feels like some new interruption or distraction from writing. I am feeling the stress of not writing up to my eyeballs.)

Tomorrow will be better. I hold out hope that all I need is another night of rest and to skip the oatmeal in the morning. (I’ve just started to notice that lately every time I eat oatmeal I get sick. I’m just going to stop eating oatmeal altogether, because why not?)

Day 1 in review (180 day plan)

A stumble right out of the gate.

Found some mold that had to be taken care of right away, because mold is one of those things that does not get better if you ignore it and will grow wildly fast if left alone. The humidity here has been insane this year. It’s been wet all summer.

I spent the entire day on my feet working on this problem. Writing did not happen, and now that I’m done, I cannot bring myself to even think about writing more than this short post.

Tomorrow should be a relatively stress free day now though. Wishing myself a better tomorrow, and thinking I might make it my first attempt at 7,000 words.

Restarting

Sometimes things stop us from writing. This year has been a strange one and there has been more than one thing getting in my head and interfering with my desire and ability to create.

It’s hard to believe we’re on the downward slope of 2020. My word count for the year has been the lowest I’ve logged since I started keeping track in 2012. It’s a repeat of 2018, only worse by about 6,000 words.

That said, I have something I want (something big and important and necessary) and to get that, I need to produce new writing on a much more regular basis.

My old motivations have stopped working for me in the last couple of years and I’ve been struggling to find something else to push me to write (when I would almost always rather be reading, because I love reading and frankly, it’s easier). This goal is much more immediate, and the payoff will happen within the year.

I have a 180 day plan, and it means regular writing of about 2,000 words a day to maintain a 2,000 words a day average.

You know what would help that? A weekly attempt at my lofty 7,000 words in a day goal. ;D That is something I’m definitely going to do. The more times I try, the more likely I might make it there before the end of 2020. :D

For now, I’m going to use my blog to post daily updates at the end of the day on the writing, starting with “Day 1”. That’ll start this evening.

Don’t miss it

Wow. I read back through my last two posts and I sound depressed (to myself, I have no idea what I sound like to other people). :D

I haven’t posted in a while, because I just haven’t wanted to. I haven’t been writing either. Just needed a break, maybe? Whatever it was, I think it’s come to an end. I’ve been tinkering with my books again, writing every day, and making time for some household stuff I’ve been ignoring for months.

In the mean time (during the no writing phase of this year), I’ve been reading. My reading list of fiction is up to 384 novels/short stories for 2020. That number, as always, misses some stuff, because I inevitably forget to write down everything I’ve read, and because I had to cobble together the number of stories I read during part of the year from Calibre and can’t include those I deleted during May–July 25 when I decided I wasn’t going to write them down anymore and then regretted it. Because I did regret it! (I don’t know how many I deleted but I only save stuff that I liked enough to possibly want to read again.)

As for posting, I don’t really miss it. I’m not sure when or if I’ll pick it back up, but it’ll be when I need it. As for right now, I’m content as is! :D

Finally hit my limit on the news

I blocked the news sites I visit from my phone’s web browser (the built in apps for news have always been disabled so no worries there) and blocked the writer forum I visit because most of the active threads there are about the news at the moment. I’ve also blocked all those same sites from my computer. All so I can devote myself to my creative pursuits this weekend. :)

In other words, it’s time to get back to writing!

The distractions are piling up

Yesterday I planned to sit at the computer for three hours and write but I didn’t make it there. I’m still fighting the distractions that are all around me right now.

Today, my new washing machine is set to finally be delivered. I ordered it on February 4. The delays on that have been crazy.

But boy do I have laundry to catch up when I finally get it installed. It’s going to be fun doing it because the space is tight and I’ve never installed a washing machine on my own before. The tight fit is my biggest concern because getting it into position is going to be a real chore.

Tomorrow, my daughter moves into her first apartment. Great timing because her university just asked all the students to move out for the rest of the month and move to online classes and I have a feeling that’s going to drag on longer than that even.

She was supposed to move today but spent yesterday rearranging plans to the point that I wasn’t sure what was going on until nearly my bedtime. :-)

I need to finish filing taxes for my 85 year old grandmother today, and help my daughter finish hers. She’s trying them alone for the first time this year but I’ve promised to answer questions and review them before she submits them.

I’m hoping to get started on this new plan I have and will detail later but I’m not sure I’m being realistic about it. I’m writing this post on my phone in bed because I woke up after four hours of sleep and couldn’t go back to sleep even though I tossed and turned for three hours trying. I can already tell it’s going to be one of those days.

I still had time yesterday for writing but what I didn’t have was the desire.

I’m in a different frame of mind today, but time is going to be short.

Distractions and the creative muse

With so much going on in the world right now, I’m finding it hard to concentrate on writing fictional stories. I tend to fixate on issues and only action makes it better. There isn’t any action I can take right now for the vast majority of issues going on in the world around me, other than the actions I’ve already taken, so I’m stewing in the uncertainties of what’s to come.

I have a lot of family in the at-risk category for this COVID-19 virus and that worries me. I am self-employed as a writer who doesn’t find it easy to write when my mind is occupied and that worries me.

I’m going to have to put off the next book in one series longer than I planned because I just don’t think I can write it right now. It’s a book that touches on the deaths of millions of people because of a virus, so that worries me. Do people really want to read about a virus killing everybody when there’s a real virus out there killing loved ones?

As for the books in my several other series, I’m having no luck getting to the computer and writing, or even reading the rest of the book I’m copyediting, because I’m too busy stewing in all these worries. A lot of my books are light and humorous (not all) and I’m just not in that headspace.

Maybe I’ll find a way. I hope so, because it would be nice to get lost in another world right now.

Authors and hissy fits redux

Wow. That blew up quick. Yesterday, one of the first days in a long while that I didn’t check my email until late in the day because my daughter is home from college on spring break, I got a response to a comment I left on another blog. Admittedly, it was a pointed comment that I probably should have kept to myself, but didn’t, but I did not expect to be followed back to my blog and find a nasty little comment waiting for me. If anything, I expected to be blocked on the blog where I commented or responded to in as equally a nasty fashion as everyone else on the post had been responded to, but nope.

The thing is, I also got an email, which was apparently sent hours earlier than the comment and was considerably more reasonable. But I guess since I didn’t respond quickly enough, I got the more ridiculous, over the top comment on my blog as my reward.

The thing is, I originally approved the comment because I thought that was going to be it. I still hadn’t checked my email so I figured a simple response was my best bet because I was busy and I thought the overreaction (the hissy fit if you will) spoke for itself.

Then I checked my email.

Let me just say that seeing the difference in tone in the earlier email from the comment really pissed me off.

Still, I responded as reasonably as I could. And got another two emails for my trouble.

By last night, my anger had built to the point where I just finally wrote a much more pointed email and then let it go.

And then got another fucking email.

I’m letting that one go. The guy is clueless. He sees what he wants to see, and he thinks the fact that he doesn’t intend to be perceived in a certain way absolves him of his behavior. Good for him. I don’t have room in my life for dealing with that shit.

In light of that, I did decide to unpublish the original comment he made on the blog. I have no interest in making my blog home to someone else’s hissy fit.

I have enough of my own to post here. ;D