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

My annual Daylight Saving Time sucks post

The forced change of the clock this morning is just one reminder that laws linger long past their need in our bloated government bureaucracies.

I just want the government to pick a time and stick to it. Standard time or saving time either one will work for me. Just stop making us deal with this horrible sleep disruption twice a year. Some of us already have sleep and circadian rhythm problems and don’t adapt well to changes.

Is anyone going to listen to me? Probably not, but I’ll send another letter, as usual! I am forever optimistic that this will be the year. :-)

I’ll leave you with this link: Daylight Saving Time Is Here Again. So Is The Debate About Changing The Clocks.

Authors and hissy fits

There are times in your life when you have to make choices. Today I made a choice to scratch a few sites off my reading list. When authors start having hissy fits in public and trying to knock down other authors because of differing viewpoints on how to write, that’s my cue to move on.

Some authors claim to understand that other people have different processes, but when you read between the lines of their posts, you can see the bias in every word they write. They’re not just offering an alternative way to approach storytelling, they’re calling people who don’t want to do things that way “silly” and “scared” and it’s just… ugly, for lack of a better word, and I don’t like it. So I won’t be reading any more of it.

(The surprising thing is that this alternative way to approach storytelling is supposedly against the establishment, but since I’ve been writing this way for thirty-odd years, I find that hard to believe. I mean, no one ever told me I wasn’t supposed to be a discovery writer. I thought that was how most fiction writers worked—but maybe it was just the particular craft books I chose to learn from. I read all of Lawrence Block’s craft books (Spider, Spin Me a Web is still my favorite of all time), and Stephen King’s On Writing, and Bird by Bird and so so many others, and the bald-faced truth is that of the large number of craft books on my shelves only a few actually make a big deal about outlining. Being a discovery writer is a tried and true method of storytelling and I don’t know where this myth started that everyone pushes outlining so hard. Maybe inexperienced writers, and those that outlining works for? I don’t know. That’s just not been my experience. No one ever told me I needed an outline to write a story, not even the high school English teacher that made me write stories when I would have rather been reading!)

I won’t pick on the sites in question and post links, because I don’t think that’ll help anyone. If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t like to see these kinds of conflicts, you’ll probably choose to avoid these sites on your own.

The good news is that this might mean I have fewer distractions in the mornings that lead me to flit around the internet. :D That’s always good!

 

February 2020 progress

February was not much of a writing month, to be sure. I spent a lot of time avoiding my book, because I knew something was wrong and didn’t want to deal with it. The last week of the month, I finally gave in and started reading it, about five to six chapters a day, and yep, once I got to chapter sixteen, I saw that everything I had been worried about was true.

The book is good. Until it isn’t.

Starting in chapter twenty-three or so, I’ve written a whole bunch of stuff that is completely incompatible with what came before. Up to that point, this is an awesome book. It works great. It’s exciting and fun and I love it. After that point, it doesn’t work. I don’t like it. And frankly, in places, it doesn’t even make sense.

That’s my fault, because I wrote a bunch of stuff for that damn streak I should have let die much sooner than I did (I quit the daily writing streak on Feb. 8th and could not be more happier that I did), and then I tried to fit those pieces together like a puzzle, and that’s just not the way I work best. So I made a mess. Of course I did. ;D

But—finally!—I’m ready to fix it and move on.

By tomorrow, I’ll be back to writing full steam ahead. I made a pact with myself on that and I will be honoring it. :D

However, that doesn’t help February’s word count.

It’s bad. My best February day was 697 words. My worst was -1,697 words. That’s pretty much how the month went. February had eight zero word days. The rest were mediocre at best when it came to word counts. The last week of the month was my most productive, if only because I finally got over my reluctance to read back through the book and tackle it head on.

February words: 228

Bad advice

There’s a lot of bad advice out there about writing. The antidote to bad advice is the truth.

No one can teach you how to write a story. They can tell you the elements that separate a strong story from a weak one, but they cannot tell you how to get that story out of yourself and onto a page. They can only tell you how they do it or how other people have told them they do it. But what works for them might not work for you. If they believe their way is the one true path, you’d better run, and run fast, because there is no one true path to writing a story. You’ll waste a lot of time beating your head against that wall if it isn’t the right process for you.

You have to figure out your process for yourself.

Do you sit down to a blank page and start writing with no idea where the story is about to take you, and end up with a finished story you’re happy with? Good. Do more of that.

Do you create the bones of a story and then go back and fill it in and then fill it in some more and some more until you have a finished story you’re happy with? Good. Do more of that.

Do you read back over your story as you go and tweak and fix and expand and contract the words on the page until you have a story you are happy with? Good. Do more of that.

Do you write like you’re afraid to look back because you’ll slow down and second guess yourself and lose all momentum and finally get to the end with a sigh of relief, happy that you’ve done it, and quietly sure that this is the best story you could have written and certain that nothing you could do now would change that? Good. Do more of that.

Do not let other people’s opinions about how you should write a story have power over you and your process.

Do what works for you. Seriously, this is the most important writing rule you will ever learn. :D

It’s the only rule you should follow.

Hm. Spammers are assholes disguised as robots :D

I had a spam comment to deal with in the blog comments today (I moderate all comments so these things never make it onto the site). I get a lot of them, and the anti-spam plugin I preferred got bought out and turned into something I didn’t like, so I end up manually dealing with a bit of spam that makes it through my ever growing list of blacklisted words.

The comment was short, with the usual link in the comment field that pretty much always gives it away.

I have not checked in here for a while as I thought it was getting boring, but the last several posts are good quality so I guess I’ll add you back to my daily bloglist. You deserve it my friend :)

Because this is how you snow people into thinking you’re real: You say something that only an asshole would say.

LOL.

Delete.

February slip

The coffee thing might or might not be to blame for February being in the dumps, but February’s word counts are way down. It’s my worst month since July.

I held off the usual slump for January with the daily writing, but it seems to have slipped its way into February instead.

I quit the daily writing on the 8th. I don’t regret ending it, not in the least, because it was time, but it’s very possible that is to blame for the usual January slump becoming a February slump instead.

Because of some things that have to happen this week, it’s not likely that I’ll be able to prop the month up with a rush of words written this week. But, as usual, I don’t care about the facts, and I’m going to push for a better ending to the month anyway.

Finally, I’ll be glad when this month is over so I can reevaluate the coffee situation. The benefits of being off caffeine have not outweighed the drawbacks as of yet. My sleep hasn’t improved in a noticeable way and that was the primary reason I decided to do this experiment.

There are other changes that are negative but I can’t say for sure the coffee fast has anything to do with them. When I think on it, I noticed a trend toward pessimism a few weeks before I eliminated coffee and caffeine.