Peppermint tea, coffee, and an epiphany

Back on the peppermint tea today. I mixed it with a bag of my “I Love Lemon” and it makes a great minty lemony tea. Better than either one alone.

I’m trying not to overdo the coffee. I’m back down to one 6-8 oz cup a day. And I have avoided the sweet tea the last few days. Not enough sleep lately, so I’m doing what I can. Sleep has a major impact on how steady my nerves feel. I need them steady right now or I’m never going to get back in a groove with my writing. :D

Holy shit, I just had an epiphany while writing this post. I’ve deleted everything I had written here so that I can get this out before it disappears.

I know what my problem is now, finally, after never really understanding what was going on after I finished a project.

I’m bored.

I was writing about how I am dedicated to becoming a working writer, which I defined as someone who writes every day instead of someone like me who struggles and struggles and struggles until a story catches hold and then things take off and I write for 60 days in a row before taking another 60 days to get moving on something else because everything I write bores me to tears. That was when the epiphany hit. I’m bored. I am so bored.

I have no idea how to address this issue, but it is nice to finally know what’s going on. It’s not the let-down of having finished a big project that is throwing me for this loop and knocking me out of my routines. It’s boredom.

Boredom is a killer of all motivation and desire.

Now I just need to figure out how to work around this so I can get back into another project sooner–one that doesn’t bore me to tears.

I admit, I’ve restarted the story I’m trying to write at the moment five different times and that is no exaggeration. I’ve also redrafted parts of it multiple times during those restarts. I’ve written considerably more words than my spreadsheet shows, because deleted words disappear from the totals as if they were never written in the first place, but boy, were those words hard to get out the first time.

The story is interesting and I can see this on an intellectual sense, but it isn’t interesting to me at this point in time. So I keep deleting stuff trying to find that story that I want to be writing, the story that will pull me along so it all doesn’t feel like such a damn chore right now.

I keep taking wrong turns, getting bored again, and stalling out.

I really do think I’ve figured this out.

BOREDOM.

I have the kind of mind that resists anything that I find tedious or boring, and as of this moment, that is exactly how writing feels. It feels hard, and it feels hard because I’m bored. When I sit down to write, it’s hard to be creative. My subconscious isn’t engaged—I might not have realized I was bored until this moment, but my subconscious has known all along. It doesn’t know how to label these feelings (I hypothesize) but it knows something isn’t right.

I’m looking for novelty and excitement and I’m not finding it in my writing. So I’m looking outside the writing and finding distractions everywhere.

It’s not that I’m distractible. It’s that I’m bored. Which makes total sense, because when I’m really into something, nothing can pull me away. I sink into my mind so firmly that I can’t get out without truly wrenching myself free.

It’s so painfully obvious now.

My problem is that I’m bored out of my damn mind.

I need to shake myself loose from this and spend my time writing something else, whatever that might be.

The big problem I’ll have to overcome is that I’m not usually in control of how I feel. I have a history of abandoned hobbies that prove it. Once I do what I set out to do, I get bored out of my mind with it. Quilting, scrapbooks, collecting, photography, home decorating, home improvement, designing websites, building websites, learning coding, learning lots of things to be honest.

I am a novelty seeker.

I have to figure out how to make writing into reading, where I never get permanently bored. I just get a little bored, and I start reading other things to spice it back up.

But to be honest, even with reading, I have spells where I go months without reading anything, then spend 6 months reading hundreds of stories and novels. That was last year, in fact.

If I can’t figure this out, I might have a real problem here with my career. I need to give this some serious thought.

In the meantime, I intended to write about my new plan. It’s pretty simple.

    1. Remember that writing fiction is how I’m making a living and treat it as such—as something nonnegotiable, in other words.
    2. Do 3–6 hours of timed writing each day using one hour timers, aiming for 275–1,000 words per hour.

275 words per hour is a good fit for the bad days, and 1,000 words per hour is a good fit for my good days. This means that I can expect at least my 1,000 words a day and possibly my 2,000 words a day most days, with some not great days and some really fantastic days mixed in.

I’m not sure how this plan is going to work with what I’ve realized today, so I guess I’m going to have to give that some thought too.

However, I should probably do that after I sit down and try to do a few of those daily hours. Hm. :-o

*The crazy thing is that I reread a post while trying to find that link above, and wow, the clues are all there! Boredom, mentioned by name. I am blown away that I didn’t recognize this choke point sooner.

The spreadsheets that help me tame the minutia of indie publishing

I’ve been reading a lot lately about spreadsheets and inventories on The Daily Journal.

Reading about the time involved in such a massive project has made me very happy that I’ve been tracking my stuff from the very beginning.

My main “publish-list” spreadsheet is up to ten tabs of data these days, and even includes all the sales links for my books on all the retailers I upload to. It’s been a handy thing to have.

I include so much in this spreadsheet that it’s difficult to think of something I can’t find there.

Screenshot

Screenshot

Screenshot

Within those tabs, I have a sheet called “File Updates” that tells me how long it’s been since I updated a file on any particular distributor site. It was a wake up call when I added that one because I ended up with a lot of titles in the “2000+ days” category, meaning all the back matter was way out of date.

I recently decided to tackle those old files and the way I’m doing it is to have a goal of updating at least one old file each week on an ongoing basis. That’s 52 files updated in a year, so that means I will have caught up within a year or so without adding in a lot of extra work or losing a lot of writing time.

(I have 34 titles at this point. Someday it will become more than a year’s worth of weeks of updates but I’ll worry about that when it happens.)

I also have a pretty streamlined EPUB generation system these days so this first year of updates will go a long way to making future updates take minutes instead of the hour or so it will take for some of these books now and will mean I should be able to easily update multiple books at a time instead of keeping it to one a week after this first round.

I update my publish-list spreadsheet every time I publish something or make a change that needs to be recorded. And keeping this thing updated is something I force myself to do every time I do anything that affects the data I keep up with. I don’t let myself off the hook on this, ever. It’s just too probable that something will slip through the cracks if I do.

Day two of working the new mindset

Today I’ve set aside two main blocks for writing. I’m posting here for the accountability. I’ll come back and fill in my progress later today when I have the time to spare. I’m doing it again today, because it turns out I do like this planning and working to the plan thing. :)

2:00–5:30 pm

7:15–9:45 pm

The goal today is 2,995 words. I’ll write a post later talking about the new mindset and what I’m attempting to do. Right now, it’s 1:59 pm and I have to get to work on today’s writing.

End of day word count: 794 words

Update:

I mostly adhered to the schedule, except I’m still finding it difficult to stay focused. That’s a thing with me, though, and I’m trying to do my best to keep myself on task by using a timer that runs when I’m actually writing. It’s simply a way to hold myself accountable for writing during the blocks of time I’m setting aside.

As usual, I’m not actively writing nearly as much as the time allotted would suggest I am. That’s also something I’m used to happening with time blocks, so we’ll see if it improves over time.

Chopped up writing day but a writing day it will be

It’s going to be a chopped up day but writing can’t wait, so I’m setting aside several blocks of time. I’m posting here for the accountability. I’ll come back and fill in my progress later today when I have the time to spare. I think I’m going to like this planning and working to the plan thing. :)

10:15–11:15 am

I wrote 588 words during this block of time.

5:00–7:30 pm

I wasn’t even home yet. So this one didn’t work out.

9:00–10:30 pm

I was so dead tired I didn’t even bother looking at my computer. Two hours longer in the pool than I planned wiped me out.

I love swimming but I came home as wrinkled as a prune and more sunburned than I wanted. Luckily, I have skin than tans easily once I start getting a little sun, and I had been acclimating myself to the sun this year in an effort to raise my low Vitamin D levels and avoid the supplements my doctor wanted me to take for the next year.

(And I will say, today—I’m writing this update on Friday morning, the day after—I feel really good. The exercise and sun really did me a favor. :) Hopefully I’ll see the benefits in my writing stamina! I’d like to write a lot of words today. I’ll update with a link when Friday’s post goes live.)

Thursday words: 588

*I take my ending document word count and input it into my spreadsheet, which calculates the difference from the ending word count for the day before and tells me how many words I “wrote”, which of course, isn’t about how many words I wrote at all. It’s about how many words more my document contains today than it contained yesterday.

It’s by far the easiest way to track word counts and keeps me honest about the progress I’m making each day writing words that will end up published. :)

Screenshot of my word count tracker spreadsheet

As you can see in the screenshot of my spreadsheet, I’m currently trying to practice my way into writing 2,995 words a day.

I’m nowhere near close to that as a daily average, so don’t get goggly-eyed at it. I’m not there and who knows if I ever will be. I’d like to be, for reasons I won’t get into in this post, and that’s why that number is there. :)

Finally, those word count lengths in my spreadsheet for novel, novella, and novelette are my personal goals. The SFWA sets novels at 40,000+, novellas at 17,500+, and novelettes at 7,500+ words, and I use something very close to those definitions as my own guide when categorizing my stories. :)

Screenshot of the Nebula Award rules from the SFWA website

My length categorizations are only slightly different and at this point I can’t remember exactly why that is. :)

Novel > 40,000 words
Novella = 15,000 to 40,000 words
Novelette = 7,000 to 15,000 words
Short story < 7,000 words

In all honesty, I think it’s because I have more stories than not that fall at the upper edges of those word counts and I felt like they fit the category above more than they fit the category below so I adjusted the numbers to fit my writing style. :)

July 1–23 progress

It’s full on summer now and distractions abound.

I don’t do well with distractions. Or I haven’t been doing well. The problem is that I can’t ignore distractions. I’ve been trying for years to train myself to do that, but all I’ve done is waste a lot of time trying to shore up a weakness that’s probably inherent to my nature.

Words written July 1–22: 2,611.

Words written for July as of July 23: -746 words.

Ouch.

I was just facing too much project block on this short story I’m working on while I try to get past the project block I’m facing with the novel I’m working on, and deleting was the only way to go. I chopped off the last 3,400 words of the story last night (the 23rd) and started again today from the 925 words I had left.

Problems to overcome:

  1. Can’t be perfect.
  2. Procrastination is a weapon in the fight against perfectionism. Putting something off makes it a lot easier to push aside the need to be perfect in the effort to just get things done on time.
  3. Can’t wait until the last minute to write a book because it’s not realistic to do that. If I could write a book in a day or two this would work, but I can’t, so this is not doing anything but getting in my way.
  4. The struggle to be perfect leads to procrastination which leads to disappointment in myself which leads to self-recriminations which leads to depression which leads to a lack of interest which leads to no writing which leads to self-recriminations which starts the whole circle all over again and the only way out is to jump the tracks and get back to writing.
  5. STOP TRYING TO BE PERFECT
  6. Perfect doesn’t exist.
  7. DOES NOT EXIST
  8. Time to try treating my writing as a job. For real. I need to move on from this idea that thinking of my writing as work is going to kill my desire to do it. Honestly, the feeling like something is wrong with me for not actually wanting to do it all the time is already enough of a drag on my motivation.

New plan because July needs rescued

So July has been a terrible month for writing, but I haven’t given up on rescuing it yet. Starting tomorrow I’m going to just plow into my most appealing current story in progress and try to pick up some momentum.

The plan is simple. Start writing and don’t stop until I’m done, or 4 pm.

The 4 pm thing might seem like a cop out, but I know if I don’t allow myself a break at some point if the writing isn’t going well, I’ll give up completely. So 4 pm is my fail safe.

If I’m doing my best and I can’t seem to get up any momentum and can’t reach my word count goal (of 2,995 words, reasons for which I don’t want to get into in this supposed-to-be-short post right before bed) then I’m allowed to quit at 4 pm for a longish break and make another run at it later in the evening.

If I’m not doing my best to write and do nothing but write until I reach my word count goal, then the experiment failed anyway so none of this will matter. :-o

I’ll update this post after the fact and let you know how it went.

Update: It did not go well. I tried again the next day and it didn’t go well either. I’m currently trying again and it is going better today. A little. But I’m not giving up on this just yet. I’m in the midst of a mindset change and that can take a bit of time.

PayPal hassles are pushing me to switch from Smashwords to Draft2Digital

I divorced some-odd years ago, and I’ve lagged with the name change for an online bank account and my PayPal account. I finally got around to it recently, and dear lord, it’s obvious to me now why I waited.

PayPal changes are a hassle. Their (new) website is glitchy and won’t accept my documents for the name change, and the email support is a run around, as is the chat support. First you get automated responses that make it near impossible to get hold of anyone real to deal with issues and then when you do, the wait time is interminable and the notifications to let you know the issue is being dealt with are nonexistent.

The only money I get through PayPal are my Smashwords deposits. Draft2Digital will do direct deposit to a bank account.

I haven’t wanted to switch, for a variety of reasons, but this might just be the thing that does it. If PayPal doesn’t get this done soon and right, I’m just going to close the account. If I close the account, Smashwords no longer makes sense as a distributor. And getting paid for Smashwords sales will become a hassle because I’ll have to go to a check.

However, if that’s what it takes, then so be it.

I do like that Smashwords is not just a distributor, but also a storefront. I do make money from that storefront and I do use the Smashwords coupons sometimes. Still, I’m not that happy with the payment set up because PayPal or check are the only options.

Smashwords really needs to get their house in order and start offering direct deposit.

*Despite the run-around, PayPal actually got this fixed. Crisis averted for the time being.

June 2019 progress

I’m a little late posting June’s progress, but since I’m not really making progress of any kind, I haven’t been compelled to update. I’m dealing with some kind of unknown health issue at the moment and doing it with June and July temperatures in the southeast without air conditioning.

Yuck.

A doctor visit didn’t really give me any hope that I’m going to figure it out soon, or get better soon, or even relieve my anxiety over it all.

So my writing productivity has fallen off, drastically, and I wish it were otherwise, but apparently I’m totally spoiled by modern temperature control and I’m wilting (melting) (dying) in this heat. The house is staying a reasonable 80-83 degrees while it’s heading toward 90 outside every day so that’s good, but I am not doing great with the 90%+ humidity we’re dealing with right now.

June writing: 10,272 words.

Bonus: July 1–9: 0.

That said, today is the day I attempt to recover and get some real writing done. I have a couple of more things this week that’ll make it difficult to make lots of progress, but all I’m asking of myself is to make some progress.

I’m sitting in front of a fan with the laptop and it feels pretty good right now.