A Windows 11 upgrade

I resisted moving from Windows 7 until earlier this year. I finally had no choice because I bought a new laptop and it came with Windows 10.

I got used to it, as best as I could. I won’t say I liked it, but I didn’t hate it, so there was that.

But recently, my machine had been telling me it was ready for an update to Windows 11. I decided I would probably do it when I had time, because if I was going to have to live with 10, I might as well live with 11 instead.

A few days ago, I finally did. I’m glad I upgraded from Windows 10 to Windows 11. I like it better than 10, even though it’s not perfect.

There have been a few surprising little features that I like very much, like the ability to compare images when you select and open them together. Or how neat and tidy the “start” window is now. (I did have to re-pin everything there, but my pinned documents in the taskbar for some of my favorite programs stayed put.)

The recent updates to the Microsoft Office programs make more sense now. The look fits well with Windows 11.

The colors are dull (as they were in Windows 10 to some extent). There’s too much sand and tan and gray. The rounded edges are too soft and boring. Google’s redesign (and return) to rounded edges is much prettier, but WordPress’s dull colors and new editor look is no better. In other words, I’ve seen plenty of this style of design, so it hasn’t taken me long to get used to it.

Overall, upgrading Windows was a happy upgrade, for a change.

As needed, when needed

The writing is going well. The blogging, on the other hand, is as dead as one of those mice my stray cat keeps leaving in front of my door in exchange for “real” food. :D

I’ve started innumerable posts that I end up leaving in draft stage. So I guess that’s that. If I needed the blog, I’d be using it more. I’m not even making journal entries in OneNote, or diary entries in any of my many notebooks scattered around my desk.

I’ll take what I can get right now, and that’s the fiction writing. If I figure out what I want to write here, I’ll come back and start regular posting again. Otherwise, it’ll be as needed, when needed, and that’s that.

:-)

Forward momentum

As usual, the goals I’ve made are probably out of my reach for the time frame I set. But I’m still trying!

I did finish a story and publish it, and I published a bit more in a test run on Kindle Vella. Not because I’m particularly interested in the platform, but because I’ve always got stories in progress and I’m testing to see if I can make money on them as ongoing stories, then publish them as books and make more money on them as novels. :D

The book I wanted to finish by November 1 is still not finished but I’m pushing hard to finish it before December 1 and I think I can make it. That will leave too many WIPs to be written in December to be realistic for me, but hell, I’m going to try anyway.

Failure isn’t something I’m scared of, and if it means I’ll get that much closer to clearing out my WIPs before the new year, then that will be more than I started with.

I can’t even explain how nice it feels to finally be writing again.

I’m going through a major life change and it has had repercussions I didn’t expect, but that’s fine. Things have gotten better, as things tend to do, or I’ve reached some kind of equilibrium, and I’m feeling a lot better these days. Looking back and trying to rewrite history so that it feels like a failure on my part—my character, my work ethic, or my self-discipline—would be the worst kind of insult to myself. I’m not going to do it.

I’m putting it behind me and moving on.

Forward momentum is what it’s all about. Backward momentum doesn’t even make sense. Time travel is a thing of fiction. :D

Writing today

I have finally made it back to writing. :) It took a while, longer than I expected for sure, but I’ve moved on to the next step in my plans for a fresh start in 2022.

Before November 1st, I am going to finish one more work in progress. I think I need to write between 10,000 and 20,000 words to finish it. I’m hoping it needs fewer words than that, but I don’t think it will need more. If it does, it will become the longest book in that series.

In November, I’m going to write a long delayed book.

And then in December I’m going to finish the rest of my works in progress.

Time to publish and move on

Today I’m working on formatting a story to publish. Yes, it’s the one I was editing. As soon as it’s gone, I’m going to write.

I’m actually excited to get back to writing. I kind of wish I could justify dumping everything I already have going and just start fresh with it all, but I don’t think I’d be happy to do that in the end, so I’m going to just pick up where I left off on it all.

Plan is simple: over the next few weeks or as quickly as possible (because I want to join NANOWRIMO with a project I can make a fresh start on) I want to finish all my outstanding works in progress.

Here’s what I have to get through and the words I’ve already written:

WIP Novel #160,660
WIP Novel #216,344
WIP Novel #37,737
WIP Novel #42,801
WIP Novel #5 (Will start this fresh for NANO)3,459
WIP Novella #15,398
WIP Short Story #1 (Sequel to the story I’ve just edited, had no idea I’d already written so much for it)4,353

Now, there’s no way I can get through all those WIP novels before November. But I can possibly finish the first two. Then I’ll do the NANO thing, finish that one, then get the rest of these completed by the end of the year.

That’s the plan.

Needs a title

I skipped writing work yesterday. I planned to proofread the last two chapters of my story, but I was tired and I just didn’t get started. I changed my routine and I suspect (ha!) that I sabotaged my own momentum.

Today, I went back to the exact routine that got me working on my story Sun–Wed. So I am here and I am ready to finish this story and, if at all possible today, publish it.

Yesterday, I did listen to some of Dean Wesley Smith’s “Writers’ Deadly Delusions” Pop-up on Teachable. His Pop-ups are similar to his lectures, and I received access to a few as a reward for a few Kickstarters I’ve supported. I’d claim to have learned something, but I’ve heard it all before. :D On the other hand, it’s nice to remind myself of the mindset I find most helpful and enjoyable for my writing and publishing. My perfectionism and other issues really get in my way and I need to work constantly to keep those things from screwing myself over.

On that note, it might be time to re-read some of my Lawrence Block books on writing. Spider Spin Me a Web is excellent, and it’s my favorite. It’s an affiliate link, so maybe I’ll get a penny if you buy it. If you don’t, well, your loss. ;)

Now, I’m going to start on the last chapters of my proofread, make every effort possible to ignore my inner critic and fix only what needs fixed, and then get some actual publishing stuff done.

[I’m a bit pissed off with WordPress right now. For some reason, it deleted the paragraph I had here originally, and now I’m having to rewrite it. Not only did it disappear, WordPress didn’t save it in the revisions. >:( Ah, fuck it. It was something about NANOWRIMO, November, and some wips I want to finish so I can start fresh with a book for it. I really don’t want to waste any more of my morning on this. :D]

Progress continues, hope to finish today

Yesterday, I made it most of the way through my story. I’ve made enough changes that I’m going to start today at the halfway point and keep going from there, in case I messed up something. I added a few lines, deleted a few more, and need to double and triple check for typos. :)

I think I’ll finish this today.

I’m also planning to make time for some actual writing today. I didn’t mean to skip that yesterday, but it happened, so today I am going to make extra effort so it doesn’t happen today. :)

I feel really good today. I’m thinking there is something to the fact that I’ve been pushing myself to go to sleep earlier. Even though I don’t have anything keeping me from sleeping as late as I want to sleep, the truth is I feel like I sleep better in the earlier part of the night than in the morning hours. I like to stay up late, but once I wake up in daylight, I’m already losing the fight to get more sleep. I will almost always get more sleep if I go to sleep earlier and get up earlier. So, maybe I have an explanation for why I’ve been feeling better this last week and am still feeling better. I’ve only had one night where I stayed up until about 3 am. That was the night before, and yesterday I did notice a fall off, in both how I felt and in how long I was able to stay focused on my writing work.

My ideal sleep time would be 11 – 7, but I’ll settle for a regular 12 – 8. I top out at about 7.5 hours of sleep anyway. After that, my body is just done with sleep. But daylight comes here at about 6:30 right now so that’s why my ideal is for a 11 pm sleep time. I’m allowed to dream! ;-)

Time to get started, I think. Talk to you later!

A little slow but pleased with my progress

The proofread I’ve been working on has taken a lot longer than I thought it would take. Most don’t take long at all, relatively speaking. My usual reading speed for a proofread is about one chapter per 15 minutes, where I make a few highlights per chapter of things to fix.

I’ve done a lot of marking up for this one. This feels more like an edit than a proofread at this point. I’ve got more clarity issues than usual, and some pacing issues I don’t usually have. A lot of that is probably because of how long this story took to write and how disinterested I was in finishing it for a good portion of the writing. I like the opening really well, the middle third just fine, but the last third is really testing my ability to let go.

The only real rule I have for myself when it comes to finishing a work is that it makes me happy when I dot the “i”s and cross those last “t”s. There are parts of this story that don’t feel right to me. Ask me to tell you what it needs to make it right, and I can’t answer that.

So I’m going to fix what is obvious and let it go anyway. It’s time to stop being hung up on it.

I’m proud of my progress and how much time I’ve spent working on it these last three days. It’s been too long since I’ve been this focused on writing.

If this keeps up, I might actually start to think I’ve made it out of the slump. :)

Promising start; and who needs titles?

I didn’t change yesterday’s title because there’s nothing of substance in the post anyway, no one will be looking for it later, including me :), and it just doesn’t feel important enough to bother with.

Yesterday, I spent more time at the computer on my work than I’ve spent on it in ages. “Ages” meaning longer than I can remember at the moment. :) It felt great and I stopped before I felt tired. Just a slight backache from the sitting! I’m here this morning to do it again.

I didn’t quite make it through my proofreading and on to writing, but I think I’ll finish it up quickly this morning. Then I’m going to spend a while writing. I’m actually fired up and excited to get restarted. Maybe it was just a slump, maybe I was burned out, maybe I just really needed some time to work through some stuff in my head. Whatever it was, I’m going to put it in the past where it belongs and move forward. :)

At the moment, I think I want to finish my works in progress so I can join some writing buddies for NANO this year with a fresh start on a project.

I put this in my spreadsheet a week or so ago when I was first starting to feel like I was coming back:

Write as many books as I can and enjoy life
Write every day, even if it’s just a little bit

That’s where I’m at, I think. That’s what I feel like I need to do.

Now, time to start proofreading so I have time to write later. :)

Talk to you later!

I’ll think of a title later

I’ve been in a slump. Probably the worst slump of my life when it comes to writing. I’ve never gone quite as long as I’ve gone this time without wanting to spend time writing anything at all.

I think I’m finally recovering. “Think” being the real state of things, though. I can’t say for sure. I need to maintain a writing streak for a while before I’ll be convinced. I’ve had several small bursts of writing since it started but none of them lasted. Seeing it last is the real test.

My goal today is to finish a proofread of a story I started writing almost two years ago and finished almost a year ago. I proofread half of it six or so months ago, but then I just quit. Don’t know why. Now I have to start over. Which is only fair. :)

Before I quit for the day, I also want to do some actual writing. So off I go to get started. First up, timing myself as I proofread the chapters. Knowing the timer is going keeps me focused and lets me make it through the chapters one by one much faster than I ever did before I started timing my proofreading.

A fresh start for August

The writing has been a little slow to start this month, but I decided late last month that August would be the perfect time for a fresh start. I’ve had family obligations keeping me busy, and although I wanted to get a lot of writing done in July, it turned out to be unrealistic. One kid moved states and it was both a physically demanding month and an emotionally demanding one.

I vastly underestimated how distracting that move would be when I made plans last month for writing.

But that is behind me for the most part now (the emotional adjustment is ongoing) and I have a lot more time to myself to get some writing done. And so I’ve made plans for August.

I plan to begin writing every day. I plan to work on several stories that I already have started, and I’ll probably do it concurrently. I enjoy writing on multiple stories at a time and I usually get more writing done that way. Seems like a good way to get going again on some projects that have lain fallow for too long. :-)

It’s time for a schedule (so I can write lots of books this year)

I don’t think I’ve ever had it so hard when trying to restart my writing after a break. I’m so out of the habit of daily writing that I literally keep forgetting to get started. Last night, I decided it was time to go back to a schedule.

I don’t want to think of this as temporary, not this time.

I need to be putting in some effort each day to get to the computer and having a set number of hours to work at it is probably the only way I’m going to get moving on my books again, because I have no inner enthusiasm for them right now.

I feel like I could have, if I push myself to read through them and start actively trying to write the next part, so that’s where I’m at in my thinking.

Otherwise—if I don’t start pushing myself harder—I’m just going to abandon it all and go back to filling my creative time with the consumption of other people’s creativity instead of creating something of my own.

That’s absolutely not what I want to do. I have a lot of books I want to write this year (and half the year is already gone!).

Some of my series have been waiting years for a new story and I want to revisit them and put out something new so readers know those series aren’t dead. Because they’re not. All my series are open-ended so I can add books to them whenever I want. I like it that way, to be honest. The worlds don’t disappear just because I tie up the loose ends of one book’s story. :)

So here I am, ready to start a three hour block of time devoted to writing.

I’ll be doing this daily and I owe it to myself not to flake out and miss a bunch of days. Here’s my promise to myself to do my best. I can’t say how much I’ll get done, but I expect to have at least something to report at the end.

I’ll be back in three hours or so. See you then.

Working log: editing & publishing a short novella today

I’ve decided to resume my working log entries. I always get a little jolt of energy from logging my work as I go, and you never know, but something I write here might help someone else with their own work, even if it’s just the energy that comes from working while you know someone else is working. That works for me sometimes, so why not?

Today, I’m going to proofread/edit* a short novella and get it ready to publish sooner rather than later. ASAP, to be honest, just to get it off my back. I wrote it last year and I’ve avoided it since, for no good reason that I can name. I just didn’t feel like getting it done and out. Not great for business, but I am who I am. It’s surprisingly hard to change that aspect of my personality/character. I’ve tried. I am trying. I’ll keep trying, so I’ll leave it at that. :D

I’m doing it now, so I can get off my own back about it.

As I used to do, I’ll update this post as I progress through the day in getting this done. Later, peeps. :D

11:30 am — Starting the proofread/edit.

5:03 pm — Worked on formatting the book. Split/added chapters breaks.

*As always, this just means typo hunting and error corrections. I do minor changes for clarity (clarity is essential) but try to leave everything else alone. Editing line by line for word choice etc is a fool’s errand. When I let perfectionism win, I lose. Writing becomes too much like work I want to avoid and I just won’t do it.

Getting past feelings and into action

I’m enjoying the freedom of having a working laptop battery again. I should have replaced it sooner. I hadn’t realized just how much of a roadblock I’d let the AC cord become to me getting to the computer to write. I like writing away from my desk even more than I thought I did, obviously. I’ve been making progress finally, and I’m glad to see it.

It’s not only that I haven’t felt like writing (not in some vague, eh, don’t want to do it way, but in a deeply averse to writing anything way), it’s also that I haven’t felt like doing anything writing related.

I don’t really know what to do about that. I’ve given up trying to find a way to change how I feel. Now it’s time, I think, to just find a way to plow through it and hope I come out on the other side of it with a renewed interest in finishing the books I want to finish and writing the new books and new series I want to write.

I’m going to start writing every day again.

I just don’t think there’s any other way for me. I blink and ten days have gone by and no words have been written. I need a daily writing plan.

I’ve thought about daily word count goals and time goals, but in the end, I’ve settled on not worrying about that stuff for the moment. I will know if I’ve written something or not, and I will mark it down when I do, and make myself do some writing before I call it a day if I haven’t.

New laptop battery

Today I got the new laptop battery I was waiting on. I messed up my daily writing streak yesterday by not writing, but I’m planning to restart it tonight now that I have a mobile laptop again. I’ve been needing to replace my battery for a while, but the first one I ordered didn’t arrive, and the replacement they sent was the wrong battery (however that happened, it made no sense).

After that, I put off ordering again for a while, I’m not sure why, but this weekend, I finally ordered a new one and it came today. It’s the right battery and it seems to be working well. Fingers crossed!

I’ve almost convinced myself that some of my reluctance to write lately stems from not being able to write comfortably in the places I like to write because I’ve been stuck using the AC adapter for the laptop. We shall see if this week proves the hypothesis. :)

It’s pretty amazing that my fresh start died so quickly

I didn’t even make it one day. That’s the bad news. (I’ve heard bad news should always come before good news.)

The good news is that I’m in the midst of a new fresh start for 2021 and it’s going okay for the moment. I’ve written fiction three days in a row and messed around with some publishing stuff for a change.

This year might not be a bust after all. :)

We’ll see how it goes from here. Will I be back to post tomorrow, later this week, or sometime next month? Who knows!

I’m definitely working on getting back on track with a daily writing streak. I’ll update as the desire hits.

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